In today’s special edition of The Optimist Daily, we are celebrating revolutions!

That’s because of the 4th of July, the day the Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain. Right? Well, not so fast. While it’s widely believed that July 4, 1776, was the day America declared independence, that day is actually reserved for July 2, 1776. As for the American Revolution, that actually began the year before in 1775. Now that we’ve clarified this little bit of information, one question remains: what actually happened on the 4th of July, 1776. As it turns out, July 4th was the day that the final wording of the Declaration of independence was agreed upon, signed, and printed. July 4th was both the culmination of intentions and the beginning of a complex, destructive, constructive and dedicated revolution that brought us The United States of America. 

Revolutions are no simple matter. The 13 Colonies were not in agreement on many issues, but what united them was their dissent against their mother country. Still, no clear pathway presented itself once America had broken free from Great Britain, and the years following the Revolution are full of grim happenings. A genocidal policy towards Native Americans was enacted, slavery of the African people persisted, and civil war eventually broke out that pitted all sides of this newborn nation against each other. It’s safe to say that the costs of the American Revolution were great.

Although the American Revolution was hundreds of years ago, there is so much we can still learn from it. After all, revolutions are not a thing of the past. Just look at the climate revolution taking place right now, where young activists all around the world are using civil disobedience tactics to force politicians to act on climate change. Yes, revolutions are solutions that advance the world forward. They break down the old order and allow for new ideas to take hold, for better or worse.

If you’re keen to gain a greater perspective on The American Revolution, and why we continue to celebrate our Independence, take a dive into one of our favorite podcasts: Revolutions by Mike Duncan. It’s a weekly podcast that explores great political revolutions—and we can assure you it’s well worth your time. You can find it directly on RevolutionsPodcast.com or subscribe to it using your podcast platform by searching Revolutions.

At The Optimist Daily, we recognize that we cannot map a better future for our world without learning from our past. That’s why we continue to be astute students of history.

Happy Independence Day, America!