I’m reading David McCullough’s John Adams, a biography of his amazing life. It’s not a book, but a marathon; it is 650 pages long!
Yet its length alone belies the long, arduous undertaking Adams and his cohorts took of achieving independence for the colonies. The task was long and the struggle difficult; Adams spent years of his life in France, England, and Holland working not just for their acknowledgment of American independence, but of gaining support of troops, weapons and ships to fight the war. Adams, Franklin, Jefferson and others together worked tirelessly for years, borrowing money and establishing trade with the European nations as well.
What exactly happened on the fourth of July when they all signed the Declaration of Independence? Well, nothing happened in England, as the news took weeks or even months to reach them. While we celebrate Independence Day, it took a lot of muskets and lead shot to actually reach it, long after July 4, 1776.
While fighting the war for independence was protracted and costly, the diplomacy side took tremendous patience and clever negotiating skills. Adams had several times of blackness and depression as he struggled to mediate with the other nations.
Just travel and disease alone were enough to drive one to quit. Adams traveled by ship across the Atlantic, usually taking three weeks to arrive. With numerous animals below decks and seasickness to boot, imagine the stench and filth they endured. On land was almost as difficult, as they traveled by coach pulled by horses and were in constant danger of highwaymen, contrary to the safer travel in America.
We usually think of our soldiers fighting for freedom in foreign arenas when we pause to appreciate our freedom. Yet let’s not forget the people who fought with their blood, sweat, and tears (literally) to achieve American freedom.
Happy Independence Day, and it is great to be an American!
Okay, I gotta go. I'm only on page 418.