In the UK it's just another working day, but for our friends across the Atlantic today is one of the most important federal holidays – the Fourth of July.
In towns, cities and rural communities across America parades will take place, concerts will be staged, fireworks lit and parties held, all to mark Independence Day. In fact today is the 240th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.
It declared that the original 13 American colonies no longer considered themselves part of the British Empire, but instead the partners in a new nation, the United States of America.
The legal separation of the 13 colonies actually occurred two days previously, on July 2nd, when the Second Continental Congress voted to formally approve a resolution of independence proposed the previous month by Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia. The Declaration of Independence was the official statement setting out that decision and had been drawn up by a committee of five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author.
Congress spent two days debating and revising the wording of the Declaration before finally approving and adopting it on July 4th in a building in Philadelphia now known as Independence Hall.
One of America's founding fathers, John Adams, had already written to his wife, Abigail, stating his belief that July 2nd (the date of the vote) would be forever remembered as the birth of America.
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival," wrote Adams. "It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
In the event, Adams' prediction was out by two days, as the right from the outset Americans celebrated their new-found independence on July 4th, probably because that was the date shown of the widely publicised Declaration. But in every other aspect he was spot on, with Americans still celebrating in all the ways he predicted 240 years later.
Britain, of course, refused to recognise the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolutionary War, begun in 1775, rumbled on until September 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was signed. Under its terms Britain finally acknowledged the United States to be sovereign and independent. Even then it was a grudging acceptance by Britain, which had been forced to concede it had neither the military resources nor the finances to wage a successful campaign so far from its native soil.
Thankfully, in the decades that followed relations between Britain and the USA improved considerably and today the two nations now share what is often termed a "special relationship". International trade underpins that relationship, and Acorn Stairlifts is a prime example.
We sold our first stairlift in the USA in 1998 after attending a Meditrade conference and recruiting our first US dealers. Since then we have never looked back, setting up a wholly owned subsidiary of Acorn Stairlifts in the USA which has seen turnover more than treble in the past three years.
We are now proud to be the established market leader for stairlifts in America, where sales of our British-made stairlifts now exceed those in our traditional home market. Shipped to a network of distribution depots, our stairlifts are then transported across America on board Acorn's fleet of 'supertrucks'. These trucks then restock our installer vans, enabling our stairlifts to be installed in homes across the USA.
There's even a certain irony to the fact that it is a British company which is today enabling so many Americans to retain their personal independence at home when it is threatened by reduced mobility. So today we are delighted to wish all our American colleagues and customers a very happy Fourth of July.