It's a semi-well known piece of Americana that one of the so-called forefathers of this country, John Adams, had predicted that July 2nd was destined to be a great American holiday, and that people nearly 250 years later would be saying things like, "Lit up like Second of July fireworks."
Adams, one of the framers of the Declaration of Independence, was right about the holiday, but he missed the date. His prediction had come in a letter to his wife (if you've read the voluminous David McCullough biography than you know Adams was a prolific letter writer) and was based on his belief Americans would commemorate the day the vote for independence took place.
That, of course, has not happened, and instead this week we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, the date in 1776 when a statement was adopted by the then Continental Congress.
Sounds Like The Business Model
The primary authors of that declaration and the unique American heritage that would develop over the coming centuries are reflected in the credit unions that would come along about 133 years later. You could even argue that these famous words, "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," are as much about the CU business model as they are a declaration against a foreign king.
While more than 15,000 credit unions have disappeared over the past 40 years, we still see reflected in their names references to what took place in the summer of 1776.
There are, for instance, 10 credit unions in the country with "freedom" in their name, four of which go by just that alone. There is also a Freedom 1st, a pair of Freedom Firsts, a Freedom Community, a Freedom of Maryland, and a Freedom United.
Today we have some 52 CUs with either America or American in their name, some with names that nearly overlap. Fittingly, for the melting pot that the declaration helped to form, among those CUs are an Italo-American, Korean American Catholics, Selfreliance Ukrainian American, Swedish American, and Taiwanese American. And, of course, one Spirit of America CU.
There are 92 CUs with some form of "United" in their names, including seven that are just plain United CU. That also includes one United Nations FCU.
Representatives of the 13 colonies had no idea how large their country would eventually become, or that 37 more states would be formed. Today with 88 CUs with state or states in their name, including Nutmeg State, Peach State, Pelican State, Penn State, S.C. State, Lake State, Mountain States, Canyon State, Garden State, Gulf States, Granite State and a credit union that would be home in any state: Central State.
Betsy Ross would be pleased to learn there are four CUs with "flag" in their names, speaking of which, there are eight with some form of red, 20 with white (including White House) and 15 with the word blue.
And seven with some form of Liberty.
There are just two credit unions with the word "independence" in their names (Independence and Independence Teachers.
Though he played no role in the writing of the Declaration of Independence, he did lead the Continental Army that fought the British, and for that reason Washington is among the most common of geographic names in the U.S. So-not surprisingly-there are 13 credit unions with Washington in their name, with just four of those either in the city or state similarly monickered.
The man generally credited with writing the bulk of the Declaration, including those timeless words "We hold these truths to be self-evident," Thomas Jefferson, is memorialized all over the nation, and there are seven credit unions with Jefferson in their names (and not one of which is in Virginia).
John Adams hasn't been similarly recognized, at least not among financial co-ops. There are just two CUs with Adams in their name, North Adams M E (fittingly in Massachusetts), and Natchez-Adams Educators in Mississippi.
Ben Franklin fares better. There are 10 Franklin CUs, but just one of those is in Franklin's home state of Pennsylvania (Franklin-Oil). Speaking of Franklin's hometown, there are six CUs with Philadelphia in their names.
Gone...And Often Forgotten
Jefferson, Franklin and Adams are the best-known authors of the Declaration, but they were actually just three of the five members who were part of the committee charged with drafting the document. The other two were Robert Livingston of New York and Roger Sherman of Connecticut. There is just one CU with Livingston in its name (Livingston Parish in Louisiana), and nary a Sherman CU to be found.
Not sure what your Fourth of July plans are (there is no Fireworks CU). But a park is a nice place from which to watch such displays, and today there are 23 CUs with Park in their name (and if it's a nice warm night, don't forget to invite someone from Brewery CU).
Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at email@example.com.