The 4th of July and the Impact of Communication Breakdown
Written by LaFleur
With the UK recently voting to leave the EU and the 4th of July fast approaching, there’s no better time to reflect on our nation’s independence, particularly since so few people know that it wasn’t officially a paid federal holiday until 1941 and that, like many holidays, there was some debate about exactly when to celebrate. In fact, John Adams reportedly abstained from July 4th festivities out of protest, believing instead that July 2nd should be celebrated — the day the Continental Congress actually voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s motion for colonial independence.
Official federal holidays and quibbles over exactly when we asserted our independence aside, the 4th of July has been a part of American culture for a long time. Even during the Revolutionary War, George Washington issued double rations of rum in celebration of our independence, and Massachusetts was the first to make the 4th of July a state holiday even before the tide-turning victory at Yorktown and before the Revolutionary War was officially ended.
Even with our advanced pyrotechnics, modern Independence Day celebrations share a great deal in common with the earliest 4th of July festivities, which included bonfires, parades, concerts, readings of the Declaration of Independence, and firing off cannons and muskets. So as you’re enjoying a parade or fireworks display this year, know that you’re participating in some of the same traditions the original colonists were over 240 years ago.
You can even set up your own reading of the Declaration (or download a high-resolution image) by visiting the website of the national archives.
Communications Breakdown: The Source of Our Discontent
In the modern age of instant communication across the globe, it’s easy to forget that one of the primary causes for America breaking away from England may have simply been the length of time it took for information to travel from the colonies to England and back. The familiar refrain of “taxation without representation” (still emblazoned on Washington, D.C., license plates since residents are taxed but have no elected officials of their own in Congress) stems from a series of taxation measures that were imposed upon the colonists without their consent in the years leading up to the American Revolution.
In the 18th century, however, it could take three months to get information across the Atlantic — and another three months to respond to that news — while the colonists could transmit information from Boston to Virginia in a matter of just a few weeks. This had both practical and ideological ramifications. For example, some of England’s concessions to the colonies in the wake of their expressed disapproval of taxation (like when Britain repealed the Townshend Revenue Act) were en route in the midst of colonial protests and increasing animosity toward the British being stirred up by the rapid spread of information across the colonies. Later on, by the time the seeds of revolution began sprouting, it took England 6 months to respond, which the colonists took full advantage of.
Imagining hypotheticals when discussing history can seem a lot like polishing brass on the Titanic, but the implications of a historical hypothetical can sometimes be crucial for understanding the world we live in now. Had the internet — or even the telegraph — existed in the 1700s, the trajectory of the relationship between the colonies and the Crown may have followed a much different path — and possibly even avoided what may well have been the bloodiest, proportional to population, war in U.S. history.
In the modern era (and even with the great volume of miscommunication we seem to experience day-to-day), it’s interesting to consider how many conflicts — both on the personal and global scale — are avoided by our ability to simultaneously communicate with multiple parties in real-time across the globe.
So, next time you’re stuck waiting on a phone call, email, text, or instant message, just relax and remember that if the colonists only had to wait a few moments for information from England, they may have never gotten impatient and frustrated enough to ultimately become Americans.
Keep Your Communications Timely and Relevant with LaFleur Legal Marketing
Although not every communication has global-conflict-inducing importance, your communications — both public and personal — to your potential, current, and former clients have far-reaching implications for your brand and success as a business. To enlist the help of uniquely talented and qualified American writers, editors, and marketing professionals to ensure your online presence is communicating the value of your services and attracting new clients through your website content, social media profiles, email communications, and more — contact LaFleur Legal Marketing using our convenient online form or by calling our offices today at (888) 222-1512.