John Adams’ Speech on July 4, 1776

Sink or Swim, Live or Die, Survive or Perish, I give my heart and my hand to this vote. It is true indeed that in the beginning we did not aim for Independence, but there is a Divinity that shapes our ends. Why then should we defer the declaration? You and I indeed may rue it. We may not live to see the time when this declaration shall be made good. We may die; die Colonists or die Slaves. Be it so, be it so. If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready. But while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a free country.

But whatever may be our fate, be assured that this declaration will stand. It may cost treasure and it may cost blood, but it will stand and richly compensate for both. Through the gloom of the present, I see the brightness of the future, like the sun in heaven. We shall make this a glorious and immortal day. When we are in our graves our children will honor it. They will celebrate it with thanksgiving and festivities, with bonfires and illuminations.

Before God I believe that the hour has come. My judgment approves this measure and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, all that I am, and all that I hope in this life I am now ready to stake on it and leave off as I began. Live or die, survive or perish, I am for this declaration. It is my living sentiment and by the blessing of God it will be my dying sentiment. Independence now, Independence forever.

The “Bonfires and Illuminations” is the original hint that we should have fireworks on July 4th every year. “Festivities” must then refer to barbeques and “Thanksgiving” reminds me on a daily basis that I should be grateful to be allowed to live safely in a great country, and that I should strive daily to keep it that way.

3 thoughts on “John Adams’ Speech on July 4, 1776

  1. Marta Rigby

    Thank you ! My father memorized a good deal of his speech, and recited it from memory up to the time he was 82 years old. He delivered it with such passion. Hearing it always carried me away, and transferred into me a Patriot’s heart, from his own. Marta Rigby

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