Tag Archives: Independence Day
On the evening of the 3d inst. [July] we recieved a letter from … Livingston & Monroe [America’s ambassadors to France on the subject of purchasing New Orleans and maintaining open Mississippi River navigation] … that on the 30th. of April they signed a treaty with France, ceding to us the island of N. Orleans and all Louisiana as it had been held by Spain. the price is not mentioned. we are in hourly expectation of the treaty by a special messenger … it is something larger than the whole US. probably containing 500 millions of acres, the US. containing 434. millions. this removes from us the greatest source of danger to our peace.
To Thomas Mann Randolph, July 5, 1803
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Happy birthday, Mr. President!
Jefferson concealed his own birth date, so people couldn’t celebrate him. He believed July 4 was the only date worthy of national celebration. Just hours before America’s 27th birthday, he’d received word that his spirited diplomatic efforts had yielded an unimaginable result: France would sell not only New Orleans but ALL of Louisiana! That would more than double the size of the nation and make the Mississippi River a totally American waterway.
Jefferson’s tactical goal had been met, securing duty-free shipping on all goods produced for export west of the Appalachian mountains. His strategic goal was met, too, eliminating what otherwise was inevitable, war with France over control of the Mississippi.
The President didn’t know the price! (A “pig in a poke” refers to a purchase where the buyer doesn’t really know the extent of the purchase or the price paid.) He expected to find out soon. He had authorized $10M for New Orleans and West Florida. He would soon be delighted to learn that the whole deal was signed for just $15M. Settlement of old shipping claims against France would significantly lower the purchase price to $11.25M.
This purchase would completely change the complexion of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, from a small company exploring foreign land to a large military company laying further claim to American land.
“… as Thomas Jefferson … His audiences have included … students, constitutional scholars,
lawyers and judges. He was very well received by these diverse groups.”
Director of Law-Related Education, The Missouri Bar
Mr. Jefferson will please your audience, whatever they are!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
In Honor of this Special Day
On June 7, 1776, Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution in the Continental Congress declaring independence from England. Congress set it aside temporarily and appointed a Committee of Five to draft a document that would explain why they sought the separation. Committee members were Thomas Jefferson (VA), John Adams (MA), Benjamin Franklin (PA), Robert Livingston (NY) and Roger Sherman (CT). Jefferson drafted the document, and the Committee made minor changes.
Congress voted for independence on July 2 (NOT July 4), then took up the Committee’s “rough draft.” They debated and amended the draft and adopted what we know today as the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
Three resources on the Declaration:
Twenty-two single-paragraph illustrated descriptions of important documents, places, people, events & items surrounding July, 4, 1776:
Thomas Jefferson’s “original Rough Draft” of the Declaration of Independence, before it was amended by Congress:
Jefferson and The Committee of Five’s original Declaration of Independence with additions and deletions made by the Congress before its adoption July 4, 1776:
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha,
in the History of America. 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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations
from one End of this Continent to the other
from this Time forward forever more.”
I join you, fellow-citizens, in rendering the tribute of thankfulness to the Almighty ruler, who … hath willed that the human mind shall be free in this portion of the globe: that society shall here know that the limit of it’s rightful power is the enforcement of social conduct; while the right to question the religious principles producing that conduct is beyond their cognisance [and for] the establishment here of liberty, equality of social rights, exclusion of unequal privileges civil & religious, & of the usurping domination of one sect over another …
To the Delaware Baptist Association, July 2. 1801
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders appreciate the role of Providence.
214 years ago, approaching his first Independence Day as President, Jefferson penned these acknowledgements to the Delaware Baptists. Not to be confused with the Baptists of Danbury, CT, whose later letter prompted Jefferson’s famous wall-of-separation response, this congregation simply sent their congratulations to the new President, along with thanks to God for putting him in office.
Jefferson returned his thanks to them and to “the Almighty ruler,” who had established, not him, but rather one place on the globe where:
1. Men’s minds could be free;
2. Society limited government’s control to conduct, not thoughts;
3. Government could not question religious principles which produced that conduct; and
4. “Unequal privileges civil & religious” were excluded.