How to Celebrate Independence Day, the John Adams Way

I have loved this quote from John Adams regarding Independence Day celebrations ever since I read it last year:

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty; it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Even though he said it over 200 years ago, it describes perfectly our Fourth of July celebrations today!

  • Pomp and Parade? Check! Between speeches and patriotic music, I think we’ve got pomp covered. And I do love a good Independence Day parade!
  • Shows, Games and Sports? Check! The shows might be a little different from what John Adams had envisioned, but who doesn’t love an opportunity to watch Yankee Doodle Dandy? Or The Patriot? Or 1776? Or Independence Day? And the Fourth of July is a great time for families, friends, and neighbors to get together and play all sorts of games, or to watch a sporting event on TV.
  • Guns? Check! Between cannon blasts, and fireworks, (which are really just colorful guns), this is probably the most anticipated event of any given Independence Day.
  • Bells? Check! If not church bells ringing, then bells in concerts all across the country. Big or small, bells are ringing all around America for the Fourth of July.
  • Bonfires and Illuminations? Check! There are those fireworks, again, and lights in general, as everyone stays up late to celebrate America’s birthday. Even backyard bonfires are not uncommon, as families huddle around them, and talk late into the night.
  • From one end of the continent to the other? Check! I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love at least some aspect of the Fourth of July, whether it’s the fireworks or the time with family, the food or the parades. And it doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or small town, (or even on a farm in the middle of nowhere), east coast or west, north or south–Americans all over this country are celebrating today–celebrating our strength and our freedoms, celebrating all of the things that make this country great!

10 thoughts on “How to Celebrate Independence Day, the John Adams Way

  1. Steve P. says:

    Not sure where you got that quote, but you left out, right out of the middle, “…deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
    i.e. the “John Adams way” includes more than just partying. Why do people want to forget this?

  2. To be fair, not all sources include this line…I was trying to provide a balanced view of the quote.

    And if you had bothered to read anything else on my blog, including “A Prayer for Independence Day” that I posted on the fourth, you would realize that Independence Day does not mean just partying to me. Thanks for the insult, though.

  3. carolfoasia says:

    I read this several years ago when I read McCullough’s excellent biography on John Adams. Looked for it today to post it to my Facebook page, and you had it. Thanks! LET FREEDOM RING! John Adams is my hero. πŸ™‚

  4. Matthew Thomas says:

    A capitol post! I stumbled across this post as I was looking for the Adams quote in preparation for a Historical 4th of July Celebration our family/church is hosting this year. Imagine my surprise when I find that you’re a St. Louis resident as well, PLUS a homeschooling family (as is mine!), PLUS Christians!
    A group of friends from different churches, homeschooling families we know, & others are gathering at a park in St. Ann to Dress in Colonial attire, play fife & drum music, hear the Deceleration read + a historical speech, picnic, play games, & teach & demonstrate some historical dances.
    If it’s something that your family is interested, feel free to contact me and I could get you more information. Have a blessed 4th of July!

  5. David says:

    Love your post and honoring of John Adams’ way of celebrating Independence Day. BUT, he meant for it to be July 2nd (when they voted on independence). So we’re really going to celebrate his way this year–and have family and friends, food, fireworks… on July 2nd. πŸ™‚ (but I don’t think it’ll catch on)

    • amanda says:

      It probably won’t…but since he didn’t specifically mention the date in his speech, I’m OK with that! πŸ™‚

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