On a hot and humid July 4th, 1776, a horseman brought worrisome news to Philadelphia: ships carrying 10,000 British soldiers had landed in New York. Redcoats were now camped on Staten Island, just one day's ride by horseback. Meanwhile, a printer named John Dunlap worked through the night making copies of the Americans' letter to King George III, their declaration of independence from England.
In Five Smooth Stones: Hope's Revolutionary War Diary, nine-year-old Hope and her mother sit in their garden, in the shade of their tall brick house. They read this letter to each other, which calls King George cruel and unfit to be the ruler of a free people. "Our country has a new name," Hope writes in her diary, "the United States of America. No longer will we call ourselves an English colony."
It took days for this news to reach every farm and village, but soon patriots were ringing bells from all the church steeples. They were reading the Declaration of Independence to one another, from courthouse steps and from the saddles of express riders stopping along dirt roads. With the exception of Loyalists, Americans were jubilant. They blasted cannons and tore down the royal flags of England, setting them on fire, and destroyed statues of King George. Blacksmiths carted away the chunks of iron to melt down for bullets to use against the enemy: This war for independence would continue until 1781.
Hope memorizes the words treasured by so many of us: "We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men are created equal. Their Creator gives them certain rights. Among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Happy Independence Day, everyone!!