Fourth of July: And the Founding of America

Overview

A new and utterly surprising look at the history behind the birth of the United States

The United States is a nation that touts its diversity, but there is one tradition that Americans love to share. Every year on the Fourth of July, Americans celebrate (and, in effect, re-enact) the founding of their country. Independence Day is one of our favorite traditions-but much of the inherited lore that surrounds this holiday is mythological, not historical. In this book, Peter de Bolla...

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The Fourth of July: and the Founding of America

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Overview

A new and utterly surprising look at the history behind the birth of the United States

The United States is a nation that touts its diversity, but there is one tradition that Americans love to share. Every year on the Fourth of July, Americans celebrate (and, in effect, re-enact) the founding of their country. Independence Day is one of our favorite traditions-but much of the inherited lore that surrounds this holiday is mythological, not historical. In this book, Peter de Bolla teases out the true story of the Fourth of July. De Bolla traces the holiday's history from 1776 through the Civil War, the Cold War, and the present. This enlightening exploration of America's birthday offers a fascinating window into the history of the nation and its people.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

British professor de Bolla (cultural studies, Kings Coll., Cambridge Univ.; Art Matters) looks at the origins of theAmerican holiday, the development of the symbols surrounding it (e.g., Betsy Ross, the Liberty Bell, Uncle Sam), and how the holiday has evolved and been publicly celebrated over the years. The book shows general readers (there is nothing here for informed readers or scholars) that many of the legends of the Fourth do not hold up to inquiry. He likens the veneration of objects and stories associated with the holiday to veneration of religious relics: the truth is often blurred or ignored in deference to the significance of the message. For example, he shows that the actual date has little meaning in reality, with members of the Second Continental Congress simply agreeing to have the Declaration of Independence printed on July 4. They then moved on to other business. The famous engrossed vellum version in the National Archives was signed on July 19th. De Bolla examines other mysteries as well, such as whether Jefferson plagiarized part of the Declaration. Although much of the material has been covered before, this short volume serves as "one-stop shopping" for the subject and will appeal to new history buffs and general readers in public libraries.
—Robert Flatley Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590202104
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 5/26/2009
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter de Bolla is Professor of Cultural History and Fellow of King's College at Cambridge University.
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Table of Contents

1 The Fourth of July 1776: The Event and the Myth 10

2 Making Independence Day 47

3 The Symbols of the Fourth 81

4 The Meanings of the Fourth 125

5 Celebrating Independence 162

Further Reading 173

List of Illustrations 182

Acknowledgements 184

Index 186

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