July 4th by the Numbers
The sole letters on Lady Liberty’s tablet, as she stands watch and greets immigrants, visitors and guests in New York harbor, are “July IV MDCCLXXVI”. Or, for those of us who have forgotten our Roman Numerals, July 4, 1776, making this year, 2017 (MMXVII) the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. I find numbers interesting so let’s discuss July 4th by the numbers.
First however, we have to do some historical readjustment. Actually, July 2nd is the birthday of the United States. This is the day that the Second Continental Congress, assembled in Philadelphia, formally adopted Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence from Great Britain. The vote was unanimous, (with only New York abstaining). It was the day that John Adams, writing to his wife Abigail, declared would be the day of the celebration of America’s birth. But this was not to be. Instead, we celebrate the date that Thomas Jefferson’s edited version was adopted by the Continental Congress – July 4th. Further, the Liberty Bell did not ring out on July 4th. Actually, it rang out liberty and independence on July 8th when the Declaration was read publically for the first time in Philadelphia.
Now, have you ever noticed that our nation’s birth year, ’76 when added together makes 13? (7 + 6 = 13.) Usually 13 is considered an unlucky number. But not so with the United States of America. Thirteen was a number of blessing on a new and free country unlike any other nation that had come before. Consider two of the mottoes on the Great Seal of the US. You can find them on the back of the one dollar bill:
Annuit Coeptis. These 13 letters form a phrase which means “He has smiled on our undertakings.” According the minutes of the Continental Congress, our Founders chose this motto to remind Americans of the “many signal interpositions of providence on behalf of the American cause”.
The second motto is E Pluribus Unum. This 13 letter phrase means out of many, one referring to the remarkable union of the diverse American colonies that united by agreement into one nation. Thirteen large and small states, separate and individual colonial governments, joined together to make one country. So astounding an outcome, that Patrick Henry was moved to declare:
“The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I Am Not A Virginian, But An American!”
Further, if you look carefully at the Great Seal you will see 13 stripes on the eagle’s shield as well as 13 arrows and 13 olives and 13 leaves being held in the eagle’s talons. Thirteen in America does not represent bad luck, but rather, it represents the providential miracle of the birth of a new nation!
As Thomas Jefferson noted:
My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!
May we all recognize the “precious blessings” we have in America and the cost at which they came! So, Happy Fourth of July and since we’re counting—may there be many, many more!