We are celebrating Independence Day. And whether you were at the early morning flag raising in front of city hall, watched the high school band march down Main Street in the parade, spent the afternoon cooking out with your family or took in the breathtaking fireworks display, let’s go back for a moment or two in time to that first Independence day.
The Second Continental Congress on June 11, 1776 appointed a committee of five men — Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman — to write a declaration of independence. The committee, in turn, appointed Jefferson to produce the first draft for consideration.
The committee, and then Congress, made some revisions to Jefferson’s draft before formally adopting it on July 4, 1776.
“When in the Course of human Events it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve The Political Bonds which have connected them with another…” the document starts.
And then we come to what has been our nation’s cornerstone for 237 years. “We hold these truths 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…”
Once the Declaration of Independence was written, not on on paper, but on parchment, and signed, printer John Dunlop was asked to make about 200 copies to be distributed throughout the 13 colonies. It was read aloud from town squares so that those who could not read would hear the news about the separation from England.
The Declaration ends with the last paragraph: “We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of the Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.”