Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Independence Day

By now, most people know that the Declaration of Independence was not actually signed on the Fourth of July. Additionally, the Second Continental Congress declared independence from England on July 2, 1776, not the Fourth.

So what did happen in 1776 on the Fourth of July? The Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, and John Dunlap printed copies twenty-four of which are still in existance. Second Continental Congress President John Hancock alone signed his name to the document.

The signers of the Declaration knew that their act would be considered treasonous. In fact, England had issued a decree for a reward for the capture of several prominent leaders of the American Revolution in early 1776. These men were keenly aware that by adopting the Declaration of Independence and signing it, they could be tried and executed for treason, if caught. Not a spineless politician was among their number.

John Hancock was among those who had a price on his head. His signature was large and flamboyant. After signing, he declared:

"The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward."
Benjamin Franklin, at age seventy, was the oldest to sign. Known for his pithy witticisms, he is reported to have said,
"Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."
(A notion we could all still benefit from today, eh?)

Stephen Hopkins, an ailing delegate from Rhode Island, announced,
"My hand trembles, but my heart does not."
The Fourth of July is indeed a day to celebrate. We celebrate the independence which we have so greatly cherished. We celebrate the birth of a nation, the first of its kind to be founded by a document devised and signed by men declaring that the purpose of government is to ensure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to its governed. We celebrate the memories of amazing men from over two hundred years ago, who, though mere mortals, were undoubtedly some of the greatest and bravest to be assembled in one time and place. We celebrate the sacrifice of so many who suffered and died to give life to a fledgling United States of America.

Happy Independence Day!

Note: For further information on the fifty-six signatories of the Declaration of Independence, a timeline leading up to and following its signing, and much more, visit here.


At 7/03/2006 4:33 PM, Anonymous John said...

Great post.

At 7/03/2006 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I certainly agree.

At 7/04/2006 12:21 PM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

Great background info on the signing :)

At 7/04/2006 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Anna, we could benefit by Franklin's notion of hanging together. Unfortunately, I do not think Franklin would agree with what is implicit in your rhetorical question (but explicit to a frequent reader of your blog), that we must all agree with our government at all times. After all, that is why America was declaring its independence back in 1776.

At 7/04/2006 8:33 PM, Anonymous Kilroy Was Here said...

"The Fourth of July is indeed a day to celebrate. We celebrate the independence which we have so greatly cherished."

This says it all !

At 7/04/2006 11:48 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...


Surely you are not naive enough to believe that I think we all have to agree with our government at all times. I surely do not.

You have missed the point, you silly thing.

It is ME that you are supposed to agree with at all times, not the government! ;)

At 7/04/2006 11:58 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

[robot]I agree.[/robot]

At 7/05/2006 12:08 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

Now, there's a good little robot after my own heart! :)


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