Independence Day (Part I – North Carolina)

So, it is officially our Independence Day. And unfortunately, many of us [Americans] let this day go by without much reflection. Whether it’s out of ignorance, cynicism, laziness, or a warped worldview, (aging hippie professor still dreaming about the Marxist revolution in America, that means you) Americans often miss the opportunity to reflect on the significance of July 4th. So, today I will try to prevent that, one post at a time.

Let us begin with a few questions:

1)Why do we celebrate Independence on the 4th?

July 2, 1776 is the day that the Continental Congress actually voted for independence. John Adams, in his writings, even noted that July 2 would be remembered in the annals of American history and would be marked with fireworks and celebrations. The written Declaration of Independence was dated July 4 but wasn’t actually signed until August 2. Fifty-six delegates eventually signed the document, although all were not present on that day in August.

2) What North Carolinians signed the declaration?

There were three: Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, and John Penn.

Joseph Hewes moved to Edenton, NC in 1760 at the age of thirty. He was appointed to represent North Carolina at the first meeting of the continental congress in 1774 and continued in that capacity until he died in October, 1779.

William Hooper settled in Wilmington to practive law. He was originally a loyalist, but changed his views and was so established a patriot, that he was appointed to be a delegate to the second continental congress. As a result of his changing loyalties, the English decided to “educate” Hooper so that all rebels would understand the consequences of their actions. His plantation, Finian, on the Masonboro Sound was destroyed. Suffering from malaria and a badly injured arm, Hooper soon found refuge in Hillsborough, where he was able to serve as a state legislator. He and his wife are burried in Orange County.

John Penn moved to North Carolina to relocate his successful law practive in 1774. In I775, he was elected a member of the continental congress. He was successively re-elected to congress in the years 1777, 1778, and 1779. He died in September, 1788 at the age of 46.

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