Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!!!!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Fourth of July!  John is over in Meadow Vista today cooking at a church pancake breakfast for about 400.  He loves to do it every year.  It's put on by the folks in our old Ward in Colfax.  We miss them a bunch and enjoyed their company last Sunday when we dropped in and attended meetings with them.  Many sweet, beautiful and spiritual testimonies were borne that day and it was wonderful to share communion with all our friends.

It's important on this Fourth of July to remember the principles that this country was founded upon, the sacrifices that were made by so many for our freedoms.  We must never take it for granted and must fight at every turn to uphold those principles.  Our country came from humble beginnings and I was struck today by a photo of the desk upon which the Declaration of Independence was written!

Declaration of Independence Desk, 1776

This week’s Smithsonian Snapshot celebrates the July 4, 1776, U. S. independence from Great Britain.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on this portable desk. It features a hinged writing board and a locking drawer for papers, pens and inkwell.

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress amended and adopted the declaration. Its words not only established the guiding principles for the new nation, they have served to inspire future generations in America and around the world.
This desk continued to be Jefferson's companion throughout his life as a revolutionary patriot, American diplomat and president of the United States. While the drafts of the Declaration of Independence were among the first documents Jefferson wrote on this desk, the note he attached under the writing board in 1825 was among the last: "Politics as well as Religion has its superstitions. These, gaining strength with time, may, one day, give imaginary value to this relic, for its great association with the birth of the Great Charter of our Independence."

On Nov. 14, 1825, Jefferson wrote to his recently married granddaughter Ellen Randolph Coolidge to inform her that he was sending his "writing box" as a present to her husband Joseph Coolidge. The desk remained in the Coolidge family until April 1880, when the family donated it to the U.S. government. It was transferred to the Smithsonian in 1921.

I think it's important today, in keeping with my love of fabric, to remember Betsy Ross, the woman who stitched the very first flag which represented our new nation!

Betsy would often tell her children, grandchildren, relatives, and friends of the fateful day when three members of a secret committee from the Continental Congress came to call upon her. Those representatives, George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross, asked her to sew the first flag. This meeting occurred in her home some time late in May 1776. George Washington was then the head of the Continental Army. Robert Morris, an owner of vast amounts of land, was perhaps the wealthiest citizen in the Colonies. Colonel George Ross was a respected Philadelphian and also the uncle of her late husband, John Ross.

Naturally, Betsy Ross already knew George Ross as she had married his nephew. Furthermore, Betsy was also acquainted with the great General Washington. Not only did they both worship at Christ Church in Philadelphia, but Betsy's pew was next to George and Martha Washington's pew. Her daughter recalled, "That she was previously well acquainted with Washington, and that he had often been in her house in friendly visits, as well as on business. That she had embroidered ruffles for his shirt bosoms and cuffs, and that it was partly owing to his friendship for her that she was chosen to make the flag." 

In June 1776, brave Betsy was a widow struggling to run her own upholstery business. Upholsterers in colonial America not only worked on furniture but did all manner of sewing work, which for some included making flags. According to Betsy, General Washington showed her a rough design of the flag that included a six-pointed star. Betsy, a standout with the scissors, demonstrated how to cut a 5 pointed star with a single snip.  Impressed, the committee entrusted Betsy with making our first flag.

According to Betsy Ross's dates and sequence of events, in May the Congressional Committee called upon her at her shop. She finished the flag either in late May or early June 1776. In July, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud for the first time at Independence Hall. Amid celebration, bells throughout the city tolled, heralding the birth of a new nation.

Much suffering and loss of life would result, however, before the United States would completely sever ties with Britain. Betsy Ross herself lost two husbands to the Revolutionary War. During the conflict the British appropriated her house to lodge soldiers. Through it all she managed to run her own upholstery business (which she continued operating for several decades after the war) and after the soldiers left, she wove cloth pouches which were used to hold gunpowder for the Continentals.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress, seeking to promote national pride and unity, adopted the national flag. "Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."

The video above, shows you how to cut a 5 pointed star with only one snip!  Just like Betsy Ross did!

Hope these little bits of trivia were fun for you and that you have a Great Fourth with your family and friends!  I'm off on vacation this week and planning to sew up a storm!  

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