The Right Coast

July 04, 2004
Late Entries for Independence Day
By Gail Heriot

I like Mike's argument that providence selected July 4th to be the day we celebrate our independence rather than July 2nd, since that is the date in 1826 (exactly 50 years later) when both Adams and Jefferson died, though I suspect that if July 2nd had become the traditional day for the celebration, they would have died two days earlier. People are like that. They hang on in order to make important anniversaries.

It occurred to me, however, that there were other possibilities for our nation's anniversary as well that never caught on--such as the surrender at Yorktown. If July 2nd, the day the Continental Congress voted for independence, would have been pro-Adams, since he was a leader in the debate, and July 4th, the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted, is pro-Jefferson, since he authored the document, the surrender at Yorktown would have been pro-Washington, since he led the American troops there.

If the surrender at Yorktown had become the traditional celebration, it would probably take place on October 19th, the day of the surrender documents were signed. But my personal preference would have been for October 17th, the day Cornwallis sent a drummer boy and an officer out to wave a white handkerchief. That's my birthday.