July 4, 1776
When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical.
By the middle of the following year, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in the bestselling pamphlet “Common Sense,” published by Thomas Paine in early 1776.
On June 7, when the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence.
John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest.
Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee’s resolution, but appointed a five-man committee—including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York—to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.
On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence in a near-unanimous vote (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively). On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade … Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”
On July 4th, the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, which had been written largely by Jefferson. Though the vote for actual independence took place on July 2nd, from then on the 4th became the day that was celebrated as the birth of American independence.
July 4, 1879
Independence day has a double meaning here in our charming city of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The city of Eureka Springs was first founded and named on July 4, 1879. Today our Eureka is known for its rich Victorian history, bustling tourism, radical inclusion and friendly locals. It is very easy to walk the historic streets and feel transported back in time.
It is due to the incredible preservation efforts that this town still thrives today. Residents and locals serving on the board of the Historic District Commission (HDC.) Eureka Springs Historic Preservation Officer Glenna Booth, told the ES Independent in July 2020 that:
"Heritage tourism is the main element in Eureka Springs’ economy. At the time of the town’s centennial in 1979, national and state legislation had been passed to allow local historic district legislation. Eureka Springs civic leaders believed that showcasing our unique combination of architecture and geography was the key to drawing a new type of visitor to Eureka Springs and thus saving the dying town – the heritage tourism traveler."
The city was formally founded, when Judge Levi Best Saunders, of Berryville, AR built the first house, and more people arrived every day to take advantage of the springs.
O. D. Thornton built the first general store in 1879. Captain Joseph Perry, owner of hotels across the United States, built a four-story hotel, the Perry House, in 1881. Although the city population remained under 4,000 people, thousands more came to the Eureka Springs area and set up housing, often small wooden shacks on the hillsides surrounding the sixty-two springs of the area. The rapid construction of wooden houses—as well as more than fifty hotels, boarding houses, and businesses—made the young community vulnerable to fire, and major fires struck the city in 1883, 1888, 1890, and 1893. Improvements in the city fire department and construction of buildings out of stone rather than wood helped to reduce the danger of fire after those years.
The Fourth of July in Eureka Springs is filled with that old-fashioned Americana charm that is fun for the whole family. Check out this blog-post featuring Eureka Springs' Independence Day (and 144th Birthday) Celebration planned for Sunday, July 2, 2023 - The First Annual Jamboreeka!
Happy Birthday America & Happy Birthday Eureka Springs!❤️
Special thanks to Richard Quick Photography for the use of images in this blog-post.
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