With the approach of July 4th, the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence is hard to ignore. As an historical act with an impact on world history, its significance is remarkable, even more so when you consider the state of democracy today.
Today’s flashback comes via the Connecticut Historical Society, which served up a wonderful print of the Declaration of Independence, the historic painting by Connecticut’s John Turnbull commemorating the day when the Continental Congress received the Declaration for debate (Congress approved it, if you were wondering). The original is in the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
“When in the course of human events . . .” If you’re in Boston tomorrow, you can stop by the Old State House to hear a reading of the Declaration, as is the custom of the Bostonian Society. Of course, there are also many terrific recordings available online, as well. One of the most stirring is the recording made in 1957 by Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy for New York radio station WQXR. Worth the 10 minutes to give it a listen as you contemplate the health of democracies today.
The Massachusetts Historical Society turns its attention to the other July 4th pursuit – relaxation. It’s highlighting from its archives the booklet, Southeastern Massachusetts: Its Shores and Islands, Woodlands and Lakes, and How to Reach Them. The 1879 pamphlet (full text can be viewed here) served to promote the stops on the Old Colony Railroad. Another similar publication from 1879 provides even more enticements to travel the Old Colony line. The images alone are worth a look.
Finally, if your Fourth of July plans entail some chores, things could be worse. It’s doubtful whatever you have on your plate is tougher than relocating a 3,000-pound historical marker. That’s what the Cambridge, Mass., Historical Society reports that it’s been up to recently. You can read about its discovery here. The moral of the story: if you must put an historical marker on your house, stick to a brass plaque. Your ancestors will thank you.