It was 246 years ago on July 4, 1776,
when members of the Continental Congress met in the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia to approve the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. Two days before, the Congress “unanimously” resolved that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” Thus, was born what was to become the United States of America.
John Hancock was President of the Congress and he was the only one to sign the original copy on July 4. A month later he was the first of 56 members to sign the engrossed copy and he did so with dramatic flair in large bold letters reportedly saying that he wanted John Bull to be able to read it without his spectacles. To that, the oldest member of Congress, Benjamin Franklin who was 70 at the time, famously replied that “We must be unanimous. Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
The signers knew well the risks they were taking in this bold move. Most of them were men of means. In the last sentence of the document they make clear their commitment to the cause of independence and to each other.
“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.”
As we celebrate the birth of our country today, let us remember those who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, as well as all those who fight to defend our freedoms every day. It is a day of celebration!
John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, following the initial vote of the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations … with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
So, wave the flag, attend a parade, watch fireworks, enjoy a picnic or barbeque, and celebrate our freedom and the birthday of this great land!