History > USA > Independence, Independence Day
- July 4th, 1776
Fourth of July
July 1, 2018
July 4th, 2018
The Declaration Of Independence
Declaration of Independence:
The following text is a transcription
of the Stone Engraving of
Declaration of Independence
(the document on display in the
at the National Archives Museum.)
The spelling and punctuation reflects the original.
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of
America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people
to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to
assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which
the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the
opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel
them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these
rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from
the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes
destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish
it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles
and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that
Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient
causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more
disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by
abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of
abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to
reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to
throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future
security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is
now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of
Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of
repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment
of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted
to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be
obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of
people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the
Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and
distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of
fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly
firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be
elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have
returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the
mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose
obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others
to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new
Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws
for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices,
and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to
harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our
constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they
should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province,
establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as
to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same
absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering
fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with
power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and
waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed
the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat
the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of
Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally
unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear
Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and
Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring
on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known
rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most
humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.
A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant,
is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned
them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an
unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances
of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice
and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to
disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and
correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of
consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces
our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War,
in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General
Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the
rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good
People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United
Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they
are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political
connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be
totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power
to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do
all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the
support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine
Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our
Declaration of Independence: A Transcription,
E Pluribus Unum
July 4, 2013
The New York Times
By PAUL KRUGMAN
It’s that time of year — the long weekend when we gather with
friends and family to celebrate hot dogs, potato salad and, yes, the founding of
our nation. And it’s also a time for some of us to wax a bit philosophical, to
wonder what, exactly, we’re celebrating. Is America in 2013, in any meaningful
sense, the same country that declared independence in 1776?
The answer, I’d suggest, is yes. Despite everything, there is a thread of
continuity in our national identity — reflected in institutions, ideas and,
especially, in attitude — that remains unbroken. Above all, we are still, at
root, a nation that believes in democracy, even if we don’t always act on that
And that’s a remarkable thing when you bear in mind just how much the country
America in 1776 was a rural land, mainly composed of small farmers and, in the
South, somewhat bigger farmers with slaves. And the free population consisted
of, well, WASPs: almost all came from northwestern Europe, 65 percent came from
Britain, and 98 percent were Protestants.
America today is nothing like that, even though some politicians — think Sarah
Palin — like to talk as if the “real America” is still white, Protestant, and
rural or small-town.
But the real America is, in fact, a nation of metropolitan areas, not small
towns. Tellingly, even when Ms. Palin made her infamous remarks in 2008 she did
so in Greensboro, N.C., which may not be in the Northeast Corridor but — with a
metropolitan population of more than 700,000 — is hardly Mayberry. In fact,
two-thirds of Americans live in metro areas with half-a-million or more
Nor, by the way, are most of us living in leafy suburbs. America as a whole has
only 87 people per square mile, but the average American, according to the
Census Bureau, lives in a census tract with more than 5,000 people per square
mile. For all the bashing of the Northeast Corridor as being somehow
un-American, this means that the typical American lives in an environment that
resembles greater Boston or greater Philadelphia more than it resembles
Greensboro, let alone true small towns.
What do we do in these dense metropolitan areas? Almost none of us are farmers;
few of us hunt; by and large, we sit in cubicles on weekdays and visit shopping
malls on our days off.
And ethnically we are, of course, very different from the founders. Only a
minority of today’s Americans are descended from the WASPs and slaves of 1776.
The rest are the descendants of successive waves of immigration: first from
Ireland and Germany, then from Southern and Eastern Europe, now from Latin
America and Asia. We’re no longer an Anglo-Saxon nation; we’re only around
half-Protestant; and we’re increasingly nonwhite.
Yet I would maintain that we are still the same country that declared
independence all those years ago.
It’s not just that we have maintained continuity of legal government, although
that’s not a small thing. The current government of France is, strictly
speaking, the Fifth Republic; we had our anti-monarchical revolution first, yet
we’re still on Republic No. 1, which actually makes our government one of the
oldest in the world.
More important, however, is the enduring hold on our nation of the democratic
ideal, the notion that “all men are created equal” — all men, not just men from
certain ethnic groups or from aristocratic families. And to this day — or so it
seems to me, and I’ve done a lot of traveling in my time — America remains
uniquely democratic in its mannerisms, in the way people from different classes
Of course, our democratic ideal has always been accompanied by enormous
hypocrisy, starting with the many founding fathers who espoused the rights of
man, then went back to enjoying the fruits of slave labor. Today’s America is a
place where everyone claims to support equality of opportunity, yet we are,
objectively, the most class-ridden nation in the Western world — the country
where children of the wealthy are most likely to inherit their parents’ status.
It’s also a place where everyone celebrates the right to vote, yet many
politicians work hard to disenfranchise the poor and nonwhite.
But that very hypocrisy is, in a way, a good sign. The wealthy may defend their
privileges, but given the temper of America, they have to pretend that they’re
doing no such thing. The block-the-vote people know what they’re doing, but they
also know that they mustn’t say it in so many words. In effect, both groups know
that the nation will view them as un-American unless they pay at least lip
service to democratic ideals — and in that fact lies the hope of redemption.
So, yes, we are still, in a deep sense, the nation that declared independence
and, more important, declared that all men have rights. Let’s all raise our hot
dogs in salute.
E Pluribus Unum, NYT, 4.7.2013,
Celebrating July 2
10 Days That Changed History
July 2, 2006
The New York Times
By ADAM GOODHEART
IT'S a badly kept secret among scholars of
American history that nothing much really happened on Thursday, July 4, 1776.
Although this date is emblazoned on the Declaration, the Colonies had actually
voted for independence two days earlier; the document wasn't signed until a
month later. When John Adams predicted that the "great anniversary festival"
would be celebrated forever, from one end of the continent to the other, he was
talking about July 2.
Indeed, the dates that truly made a difference aren't always the ones we know by
heart; frequently, they've languished in dusty oblivion. The 10 days that follow
— obscure as some are — changed American history. (In some cases, they are
notable for what didn't happen rather than what did.)
This list is quirky rather than comprehensive, and readers may want to continue
the parlor game on their own. But while historians may argue endlessly about
causes and effects — many even question the idea that any single day can alter
the course of human events — these examples show that destiny can turn on a
slender pivot, and that history often occurs when nobody is watching.
Anyway, happy Second of July.
JUNE 8, 1610: A Lord's Landfall
Three years after its founding, the Virginia Colony was a failure. A few dozen
starving settlers packed some meager possessions and sailed from Jamestown on
June 7, headed back toward England. The next morning, to their surprise, they
spotted a fleet coming toward them, carrying a new governor, Lord De La Warr,
and a year's worth of supplies.
If not for his appearance, Virginia might have gone the way of so many lost
colonies. What is now the Southeastern United States could well have ended up in
the French or Dutch empires. Tobacco might never have become a cash crop, and
the first African slaves would not have arrived in 1619.
OCT. 17, 1777: Victory Along the Hudson
If one date should truly get credit for securing America's independence, it is
when the British general John Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga.
The battle's significance was more diplomatic than military: shortly after news
reached Paris, the French king decided to enter the war on the American side.
"If the French alliance and funding hadn't come through at that moment, it's
hard to say how much longer we could have held out," says Stacy Schiff, author
of "A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America." The
American Revolution might have gone down in history as a brief provincial
uprising, and the Declaration of Independence as a nice idea.
JUNE 20, 1790: Jefferson's Dinner Party
On this evening, Thomas Jefferson invited Alexander Hamilton and James Madison
to dinner at his rented house on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan. In the course
of the night, Jefferson recalled, they brokered one of the great political deals
in American history. Under the terms of the arrangement, the national capital
would be situated on the Potomac, and the federal government would agree to take
on the enormous war debts of the 13 states.
Had that meal never taken place, New York might still be the nation's capital.
But even more important, the primacy of the central government might never have
been established, says Ron Chernow, the Hamilton biographer. "The assumption of
state debts was the most powerful bonding mechanism of the new Union," he says.
"Without it, we would have had a far more decentralized federal system."
APRIL 19, 1802: Mosquitos Win the West
Events that change America don't always occur within our borders. Consider the
spring of 1802. Napoleon had sent a formidable army under his brother-in-law,
General Charles Leclerc, to quell the rebellion of former slaves in Haiti.
On April 19, Leclerc reported to Napoleon that the rainy season had arrived, and
his troops were falling ill. By the end of the year, almost the whole French
force, including Leclerc himself, were dead of mosquito-borne yellow fever.
When Napoleon realized his reconquest had failed, he abandoned hopes of a New
World empire, and decided to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States.
"Across a huge section of the American heartland, from New Orleans up through
Montana, they ought to build statues to Toussaint L'Ouverture and the other
heroes of the Haitian Revolution," says Ted Widmer, director of the John Carter
Brown Library at Brown University.
JAN. 12, 1848: An Ill-Advised Speech
His timing couldn't have been worse: With the Mexican War almost won, a freshman
congressman rose to deliver a blistering attack on President Polk and his
"half-insane" aggressive militarism. Almost from the moment he sat down again,
the political career of Representative Abraham Lincoln seemed doomed by the
antiwar stand he had taken just when most Americans were preparing their victory
Yet that speech saved Lincoln. "It cast him into the political wilderness," says
Joshua Wolf Shenk, the author of "Lincoln's Melancholy." This insulated him
during the politically treacherous years of the early 1850's — when Americans
divided bitterly over slavery — and positioned him to emerge as a national
leader on the eve of the Civil War. Lincoln's early faux pas also taught him to
be a pragmatist, not just a moralist. "If he had been successful in the 1840's,
the Lincoln of history — the Lincoln who saved the Union — would never have
existed," Mr. Shenk says.
APRIL 16, 1902: The Movies
Motion pictures seemed destined to become a passing fad. Only a few years after
Edison's first crude newsreels were screened — mostly in penny arcades,
alongside carnival games and other cheap attractions, the novelty had worn off,
and Americans were flocking back to live vaudeville.
Then, in spring 1902, Thomas L. Tally opened his Electric Theater in Los
Angeles, a radical new venture devoted to movies and other high-tech devices of
the era, like audio recordings.
"Tally was the first person to offer a modern multimedia entertainment
experience to the American public," says the film historian Marc Wanamaker.
Before long, his successful movie palace produced imitators nationally, which
would become known as "nickelodeons." America's love affair with the moving
image — from the silver screen to YouTube — would endure after all.
FEB. 15, 1933: The Wobbly Chair
It should have been an easy shot: five rounds at 25 feet. But the gunman,
Giuseppe Zangara, an anarchist, lost his balance atop a wobbly chair, and
instead of hitting President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, he fatally wounded the
mayor of Chicago, who was shaking hands with F.D.R.
Had Roosevelt been assassinated, his conservative Texas running mate, John Nance
Garner, would most likely have come to power. "The New Deal, the move toward
internationalism — these would never have happened," says Alan Brinkley of
Columbia University. "It would have changed the history of the world in the 20th
century. I don't think the Kennedy assassination changed things as much as
Roosevelt's would have."
MARCH 2, 1955: Almost a Heroine
When a brave young African-American woman was arrested for refusing to give up
her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, local and national civil rights leaders
rallied to her cause. Claudette Colvin, 15, seemed poised to become an icon of
the struggle against segregation. But then, shortly after her March 2 arrest,
she became pregnant. The movement's leaders decided that an unwed teenage mother
would not make a suitable symbol, so they pursued a legal case with another
volunteer: Rosa Parks.
That switch, says the historian Douglas Brinkley, created a delay that allowed
Martin Luther King Jr. to emerge as a leader. He most likely would not have led
the bus boycott if it had occurred in the spring instead of the following
winter. "He might have ended up as just another Montgomery preacher," Professor
SEPT. 18, 1957: Revolt of the Nerds
Fed up with their boss, eight lab workers walked off the job on this day in
Mountain View, Calif. Their employer, William Shockley, had decided not to
continue research into silicon-based semiconductors; frustrated, they decided to
undertake the work on their own. The researchers — who would become known as
"the traitorous eight" — went on to invent the microprocessor (and to found
Intel, among other companies). "Sept. 18 was the birth date of Silicon Valley,
of the electronics industry and of the entire digital age," says Mr. Shockley's
biographer, Joel Shurkin.
AUG. 20, 1998: Just Missed
With most Americans absorbed by the Monica Lewinsky affair, relatively few paid
much attention when the United States fired some 60 cruise missiles at Qaeda
training camps in Afghanistan. Most public debate centered on whether President
Clinton had ordered the strike to deflect attention from his domestic troubles.
Although the details of that day remain in dispute, some accounts suggest that
the attack may have missed killing Osama bin Laden by as little as an hour. How
that would have changed America — and the world — may be revealed, in time, by
the history that is still unfolding.
Adam Goodheart is director of the C.V. Starr Center
for the Study of the
at Washington College.
Days That Changed History, NYT, 2.7.2006,
Children Teach Today's Pilgrims
November 24, 2005
The New York Times
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
Thanksgiving is always a busy time for Julie
She and her younger sister, Cathy, help in the kitchen with the apple pie,
mixing the flour and remembering, Julie said, to "take turns so everything is
fair." Then they work on the day's costumes, assembling Pilgrim hats out of
black construction paper.
During dinner, she is happy to entertain questions from guests about the history
of one of her favorite holidays, which she has researched on the Internet. "I
remember learning that they didn't get along that well when they first met,"
said 11-year-old Julie of the Pilgrims and the Indians. "And then they just put
aside their differences and just had a big feast together."
Julie's parents, Russian immigrants who live in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, say
they are proud their daughter has become so fascinated with this most American
of traditions. "She has to live here," said her father, Vladimir Sorokurs, 51, a
high school social worker who did not know Thanksgiving existed before coming to
America in 1988. "She has to adopt everything. She's American."
Every November, Thanksgiving - a celebration of the original immigrant feast -
plays out in this city of immigrants as the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians
could have hardly fathomed in 1621: a cross-cultural hodgepodge holiday
improvised by new American families often inspired and instructed by some of
their youngest members. The children of immigrants act as pint-size ambassadors
of all things Thanksgiving, urging parents throughout the world to prepare
all-American turkey meals that they learned about in school and sharing their
incomplete yet innocently sweet knowledge of the holiday's origins.
Olga Espinal, 31, said most of what she learned about the history of
Thanksgiving has come from her daughter. Ms. Espinal came to New York seven
years ago from Colombia, and today she planned a combination Thanksgiving
celebration and birthday party for her daughter, Daniela Rico, who turns 10
Daniela said helping her mother learn about the holiday was easy. "I read a book
about Thanksgiving," said Daniela, who is in the fifth grade and lives with her
mother in Howard Beach, Queens. "I told her what I read in the book. I read
about what they celebrated on the first Thanksgiving and why. I didn't get to
read the whole book, because it was a pretty big book."
Giselle Vasquez, 6, also gave her father a quick Pilgrims-and-Indians history
lesson. "My daughter told me that when they came to America, they started to
celebrate the first dinner," said Mr. Vasquez, 28, who is Mexican-American and
who picked up Giselle at Public School 295 in Brooklyn yesterday.
Sometimes, the children are not so much teachers as they are cheerleaders.
Occasionally, they are simply culinary advisers. Maha Attieh, 47, a
Jordanian-born Palestinian, takes her children to the supermarket when she goes
shopping for Thanksgiving, which she usually celebrates at her home in Midwood,
Brooklyn, with a turkey stuffed with rice, chicken cutlets, nuts and raisins.
"They make their own menu," said Mrs. Attieh, who works at the Arab-American
Family Support Center in Brooklyn. "What they hear in school, what they hear
from friends, they want the same thing. I say, 'As long as it's halal meat, I'll
do it.' "
In diverse New York City, an introduction to the holiday is essential. The
foreign-born population makes up 36 percent of the city's eight million
residents, according to the United States Census Bureau, and many speak a
language other than English at home. The lessons that immigrant children teach
their parents about Thanksgiving illustrates the larger role these children
often play in interpreting American culture for their elders.
"Given that English as a second language classes are pretty hard to come by
unless you've got money, it's sort of inevitable that children of recent
immigrants who don't speak English are a huge fount of information about
American culture," said Andrew White, director of the Center for New York City
Affairs, a policy and research institute at the New School in Manhattan.
Gary Gerstle, a history professor at the University of Maryland who has studied
the Americanization of immigrants, said Thanksgiving has become one of the more
accessible holidays for newcomers, free from religious or political affiliation.
The notion of gathering friends and family around a lavish spread of meats and
beverages, on a day off from work and school, appeals to all.
"Thanksgiving has become not a way to honor the Pilgrims and the Indians, but to
affirm the importance of family togetherness," Mr. Gerstle said. "It makes the
transition for immigrants into this holiday rather easy. They can be affirming
their own family, while at the same time affirming something that is central to
Not all children of immigrants get a chance to instruct on Thanksgiving. They
have not had time.
"Yesterday, my father told me about this holiday," said Yan Shalomov, 7, who
arrived in the United States three weeks ago with his family from Uzbekistan. He
went yesterday to the Manhattan offices of the New York Association for New
Americans, a nonprofit immigrant services group. His father said they will
celebrate Thanksgiving today at his aunt's house, where Yan will eat, for the
first time, turkey.
"It's important for us and it's interesting," said Yan's father, Robert, who
along with his son spoke with the aid of a translator. "We want to be part of
Valentina Tkachenko, 14, remembers her first Thanksgiving. It was just a few
months after she arrived here from Ukraine in 1999, and her family gathered at
her grandparents' home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. They put up turkey decorations
in the windows. They watched the parade on television. The tastes and the sights
were new and strange and exciting.
"The Pilgrims were becoming Americans," she recalled, "and now, so were we."
Janon Fisher and Ann Farmer
for this article.
Children Teach Today's Pilgrims the All-American Lessons,
Millions Line Up to Get Home
in Time for
November 23, 2005
Filed at 11:15 a.m. ET
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The New York Times
Millions of Americans hit the road, lined up
at airports and headed for bus and train stations Wednesday to get home in time
for Thanksgiving turkey on what's historically the biggest travel day of the
AAA said more than 37 million people will be traveling during the holiday
weekend, undeterred by snow and more expensive gasoline, rental cars and hotel
Snow was already falling Wednesday morning across parts of Michigan and Indiana,
but Kate Kehoe said she wasn't too worried about her trip from Ann Arbor to
''I'm glad gas is not $3 anymore,'' the preschool teacher said Wednesday morning
as she filled her tank.
The forecast for highway travel was almost matched by numbers expected on
airplanes. The Air Transport Association, which represents major airlines,
predicted 21.7 million people would fly on U.S. airlines from Nov. 19 to Nov.
29, slightly more than the record number a year ago.
''Air fares are up probably roughly $40 ... since last February, but that hasn't
deterred people,'' Terry Trippler, an airline analyst with CheapSeats.com, told
Snow threatened to create messy travel conditions across the Great Lakes states
and south into the central Appalachians.
However, light snowfall during the morning caused no problems at Chicago's
O'Hare and Midway airports, which expected to handle nearly 2 million passengers
during the holiday weekend, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman
Snow in Indiana contributed to numerous wrecks during the morning rush but no
serious injuries were reported.
''It's the first snowfall of the year and people don't have the winter habits
yet,'' said state Trooper Robert Brophy at Fort Wayne, Ind. ''Every year at the
first snow, people forget how to drive since the end of last year's snow.''
Snow showers were possible as far south as North Carolina, where Mount Mitchell
had collected 10 inches since Tuesday, and a winter storm watch was in effect
through Thursday evening for the West Virginia and Maryland panhandles, the
National Weather Service said.
For hundreds of motorists, the day started with a miles-long traffic jam on
Washington's Capital Beltway after a tanker truck carrying 8,700 gallons of
gasoline exploded on Interstate 95 just north of the city around 5 a.m.
''This is not what we needed to start this travel day,'' said Lon Anderson,
spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
No injuries were reported, but motorists closest to the scene in Beltsville,
Md., were told to abandon their cars for fear of a larger explosion. I-95 was
partially reopened by 8:15 a.m.
Some travelers packed up and left a day early.
''I wanted to beat the rush,'' Joe Lamport said Tuesday after arriving at
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with his family.
The airport reported 289,597 passengers on Tuesday, nearly 4,100 more than what
was expected Wednesday.
Lines were longer than last Thanksgiving at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on
Wednesday because the Transportation Security Administration had cut back on
screeners, said Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports
Commission, which operates the airport.
Amtrak put an extra 60 trains in service this week in the Northeast Corridor,
but many trains were already sold out, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black told AP
Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell said 125,000 people last year traveled on
Amtrak trains the day before Thanksgiving, up 80 percent from the 69,000 who
ride the trains on an average day.
Millions Line Up to Get Home in Time for Thanksgiving,
Following the Revolutionary War,
Continental Congress recognized the need
to give thanks for delivering the
from war and into independence.
Congress issued a proclamation on October 11,
By the United States in Congress assembled.
IT being the indispensable duty of all Nations, not only to offer up their
supplications to ALMIGHTY GOD, the giver of all good, for his gracious
assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give
him praise for his goodness in general, and especially for great and signal
interpositions of his providence in their behalf: Therefore the United States in
Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of divine
goodness to these States, in the course of the important conflict in which they
have been so long engaged; the present happy and promising state of public
affairs; and the events of the war, in the course of the year now drawing to a
close; particularly the harmony of the public Councils, which is so necessary to
the success of the public cause; the perfect union and good understanding which
has hitherto subsisted between them and their Allies, notwithstanding the artful
and unwearied attempts of the common enemy to divide them; the success of the
arms of the United States, and those of their Allies, and the acknowledgment of
their independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must
be of great and lasting advantage to these States:----- Do hereby recommend to
the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several
States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation
of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn
THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all
ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for his goodness, by a cheerful
obedience of his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his
influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great
foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.
Done in Congress, at Philadelphia, the eleveth day of October, in the year of
our LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and of our Sovereignty and
Independence, the seventh.
JOHN HANSON, President.
Charles Thomson, Secretary.
Source: Thanksgiving in American Memory, Library of Congress,
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