MOUNT VERNON — According to noted historian and author John Ellis, “On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote two letters to his beloved Abigail exuberantly reporting that history had been made: One day earlier, the Continental Congress had voted to declare American independence from the British Empire. Henceforth, Adams predicted, July 2 would be celebrated by every generation with parades, speeches, songs and what he called ‘illuminations.’ He got everything right, even the fireworks. But he got the date wrong.

“Or perhaps we get the date wrong. The widespread assumption is that the Fourth of July is the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, the actual moment the founders pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the Great Question of Independence. So why do we celebrate the Fourth? Because that is the day the declaration was sent to the printer, who then put that date on the top of the document, copies of which were distributed throughout the colonies and beyond. It became the date that readers then, and Americans ever since, recognized as the anniversary of American independence, even though nothing of historical significance actually occurred on that day.”

So what was John Adams like? This coming Thursday, June 27, just in time to celebrate whichever date is the birthday of America, Chautauqua veteran Greg Patterson will portray Founding Father, second President of the United States and co-writer of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams. The program will be held at the Grand Hotel, 12 Public Square in downtown Mount Vernon. Doors open for this donation event at 6 p.m. and the facility is accessible to those with special needs.

The program will start with music of the 1700s provided by Meg Litteral and the group The Skeptikells with John Adams starting at about 7:45 p.m. with a question and answers period with the President immediately following his address.

The Chautauqua Series is organized and provided by Elixir Presents with the support of the Ariel Foundation and the Grand Hotel. For more information about this and future programs in the series, please visit, or call 740-392-3018. To receive a “gentle reminder” email on the Sunday before each program, contact Mike Petee at


Mount Vernon News: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews



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