Posted tagged ‘Philadelphia’

“Foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy — Philadelphia!”

July 4, 2013

Those lines from the Broadway musical “1776”, which I had the pleasure of being in during the 2007 season of the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, are resonating with me today. 1776 - GR Civic TheatreThe City of Philadelphia played such an important part in the life of John Adams, and our Nation. As we celebrate Independence Day and the 237th anniversary of our beginning as a free people, we should pause a minute from our barbecues, our picnics, our fireworks, and our trips to the beach and reflect upon the men who met in Philadelphia in that blistering summer of 1776 and hammered out, not only a desire to be free from British rule, but the foundations for the new Nation they saw for the people of the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence isn’t a long document; it takes less than 15 minutes to read. But, owing to the genius of Thomas Jefferson, Adams, and others, it contains ideas upon which we have built the wonderful country we live in. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Building upon that premise, delegates of our newly won country gathered again in Philadelphia in 1787. Again, according to the record, it was beastly hot. The windows of Independence Hall were fastened shut, so that the secret discussions inside wouldn’t be prematurely leaked. Because, what was being discussed was a brand new foundation for our Country — a Constitution that would bind the separate States together under a strong central government. Opinions were divided then, as they are sometimes today, about how strong that central government should be, but it was one of the beauties of our country then, as it is now, that the right to debate those issues could take place without fear of reprisal or imprisonment. Out of that steaming cauldron inside Independence Hall was brewed the perfect recipe for a new Nation “conceived in liberty”, as Abraham Lincoln would put it four score and seven years later.
When John Adams first came to Philadelphia in 1774 as a Massachusetts delegate to the First Continental Congress, the trip from Boston took nearly a week. Now, of course, it takes only minutes. Prior to 1800, Philadelphia was the country’s largest city and from 1790 – 1800, when John Adams was first Vice-President and then President, it was the seat of the federal government.
Today, Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the U.S. Like Boston, Philadelphia has retained the historic buildings so crucial to our early history. In 2009, Mary Beth and I got to visit for a few days. A slide show of our photos can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/A2xr_C3kIi8. If you get the chance, you should visit. And, if you want to see history re-told in Mary Kron’s delightful play, “My Dearest Friend,” then book us! We’ll be glad to bring John and Abigail Adams to life in your venue!
Happy Birthday from GEM Theatrics to the United States of America!

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