From the Venerable Master (July, 2010)

posted May 19, 2015, 4:19 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 19, 2015, 4:19 PM ]

Brethren and Ladies:

Although we celebrate July 4th as Independence Day in commemoration of the fact that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, legal separation of the American colonies from Great Britain actually occurred two days before.  It was on July 2, 1776 that the Second Continental Congress voted in closed session to approve a resolution of independence.  The Declaration of Independence document was the statement written to explain that decision.  The draft of the Declaration was prepared by the “Committee of Five”: Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams (MA), Benjamin Franklin (PA), Roger Sherman (CT), and Robert Livingston (NY).
Most famous among the five are Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who each went on to serve as President of the United States.  Benjamin Franklin, also an American icon, was a Freemason and served as Grand Master of Freemasons in Pennsylvania in 1734, among other positions.  
Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston, while not household names, also had distinguished careers.  Roger Sherman, who later became a United States Senator, was the only American to sign four important historical documents: the Continental Association of 1774, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation; and the U.S. Constitution.  Robert Livingston, who was recalled to NY and, therefore, did not sign the Declaration of Independence that he helped write, was later appointed resident minister at the Court of Napoleon in France by President Thomas Jefferson.  Livingston, a lawyer, negotiated the Louisiana Purchase from the French. 
A few other facts about July 4th: 
  • Although the Declaration of Independence is dated July 4, 1776, many delegates actually signed the document on August 2, 1776.
  • Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
  • Independence Day did not become a paid federal holiday until 1938. 

Durward C. Ayre, 32° KCCH
Venerable Master