The Fourth of July (July 4th), also called Independence Day, is the holiday that marks when the US declared its independence from Britain. That was done on July 4th 1776 in the Declaration of Independence:
“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 …”
It is also when the Thirteen Colonies first called itself the thirteen “united States of America”.
It is also when the central hypocrisy of the US between racism and equality became crystal clear: Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, owned 175 Black slaves at the time. And he calls Native Americans “merciless Indian Savages”. He was hardly alone: many of the signers owned Black slaves or wanted Native land that the British protected.
To Jefferson’s credit he did condemn the slave trade, but that part had to be taken out before many slave owners would sign it.
The Declaration of Independence only declared independence. It took years of war to make it fact. The true independence day of the US is May 12th 1784, when the Treaty of Paris took effect.
Like Australia Day, the Fourth of July takes place in the summer and features fireworks, picnics, barbecues, flag waving, speeches, parades, pride in one’s country, going to the beach or the park, being with family and friends, etc.
The most famous Fourth of July speech, at least among Black Americans, is one given by Frederick Douglass 76 years after 1776. He noted:
“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty, all heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”
The Declaration of Independence freed not one of the 650,000 slaves in the US. It only declared freedom for White people. The holiday marking Black freedom is Juneteenth.
For Native Americans, the Fourth of July marks the birth of a nation that destroyed hundreds of Indian nations.
Thanks to Fan for suggesting this post.
– Abagond, 2016.
- Australia Day
- Frederick Douglass
- Other White-identity holidays:
- Columbus Day
- Born on the Fourth of July:
- Calvin Coolidge
- Malia Obama – she turns 18!
- The term “savage”
- The term “America”