By which I mean that it should be celebrated on July 2, the day the Congress took the vote for Independence. But anyway…
Speaking of which, I saw parts of “1776″ on the telly this afternoon. It was actually pretty accurate. I was a bit disconcerted to see Benjamin’s father from “The Graduate” as John Adams, but he did OK.
And I say it was accurate because it pretty clearly showed what happened in the Continental Congress — how it was the obnoxious, irascible Adams who was responsible for persuading the Congress to declare independence. Jefferson sat there silent through the debates. And Adams chose him to write the thing, which he was reluctant to do. (The film shows Jefferson eager to run home and see his wife rather than work on the drafting committee. Not sure whether that’s literally accurate, but it’s true to character. Jefferson tended to want to do things when they were convenient to him, while Adams went out and did the hard work.)
It was fun to watch William Daniels’ Adams browbeat the Congress, especially the courtly Rutledge from South Carolina, into making the big decision. The last part I saw was Rutledge singing this song:
Molasses to rum to slaves, oh what a beautiful waltz
You dance with us, we dance with you
Molasses and rum and slaves
Who sails the ships out of Boston
Ladened with bibles and rum?
Who drinks a toast to the Ivory Coast?
Hail Africa, the slavers have come
New England with bibles and rum
And its off with the rum and the bibles
Take on the slaves, clink, clink
Hail and farewell to the smell
Of the African coast
Molasses to rum to slaves
‘Tisn’t morals, ’tis money that saves
Shall we dance to the sound of the profitable pound
In molasses and rum and slaves
Who sails the ships out of Guinea
Ladened with bibles and slaves?
‘Tis Boston can coast to the West Indies coast
Jamaica, we brung what ye craves
Antigua, Barbados, we brung bibles and slaves!
Molasses to rum to slaves
Who sail the ships back to Boston
Ladened with gold, see it gleam
Whose fortunes are made in the triangle trade
Hail slavery, the New England dream!
Mr. Adams, I give you a toast:
Hail Boston! Hail Charleston!
Who stinketh the most?
Rutledge’s main concern was that after independence, that South Carolina’s sovereignty be paramount. Ah, yes, South Carolina was playing that role from the beginning.
Adams, of course, would live to see his own role largely forgotten by the public, while Jefferson was lionized every July 4. Fifty years later, on that very day, they both died.
And now, to take you from the very heights of American statesmanship to the, um, present day, here are some pictures that Lora Prill of ADCO texted to me from the Gilbert Peach Festival, with her comments…