Tag Archives: Founding Fathers

Commitment

Have you ever read the Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America? Most people don’t recognize that as the actual title of what we call the Declaration of Independence. Written in Philadelphia, approved on 2 July 1776, and published two days later on the fourth of July.

Those who signed the document risked much if they failed. If they were lucky, they would be hanged “until dead.” The practice of hanging, drawing, and quartering was the prescribed punishment for high treason. In this case, the condemned would be hanged, cut down while still (barely) alive, often disemboweled (again, while still alive), then beheaded and their body cut into pieces.

These founding fathers had to work hard to reach common ground since they had agreed that unanimous consent was required so as not to force brother against brother so many vehement arguments led to revisions that the authors vehemently opposed. The issue of slavery was particularly difficult, and striking a phrase prohibiting slavery did, in fact, lead to the war of brother against brother.

While most of the body of the declaration deals with the grievances against King George the third, I believe the most important part is at the end.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Who among us has that kind of commitment today?

 

Independence Day

1776 Ben Frnaklin telling John Adams, "Don't worry, the history books will clean it up."

1776
Ben Franklin telling John Adams, “Don’t worry, the history books will clean it up.”

It’s July 2nd – the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress voted for independence. John Adams predicted fairly accurately how we’d celebrate Independence Day, with parades, fireworks and such, but he figured that we’d celebrate the second, not the fourth.

The Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4th, which is why that date appears at the top of the document; “In Congress, July 4, 1776”, but the motion was voted on and approves on the second.

Incidentally, most of the delegates signed the Declaration on August 4th, not July 4th, with the last signature, Thomas McKean not being added until 1781.

However, this is all trivia. It makes things interesting, but does not detract from the importance of the event. A handful of accomplished but very human (i.e. flawed) men worked through their differences and created this great country of ours.

When we despair at the political antics we see today, perhaps it is good to remember that beloved Thomas Jefferson came in second to John Adams and therefore was Adams’ vice president. The next election cycle he hired an expert to run a vicious campaign against Adams accusing him of being a hermaphrodite, among other things. (For an interesting Mental Floss/CNN article, click [HERE]).

Our democratic republic is hardly perfect, but I argue that it’s as good as we humans can do.

P.S. As you know, I enjoy the Musical/Movie “1776” and have tried to make it a family tradition to watch it the weekend closest to the 4th. Unfortunately, there’s not too much enthusiasm, and in a year when I’m down to one child without a driver’s license, the chance for it becoming a tradition will be gone.