Tomorrow is Independence Day and the celebration of the birthday of our great country when our forefathers officially adopted the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776.
This being a fairly well known fact, for today’s column, I’d like to share some facts about the Declaration and the Day that may not be so well known or perhaps even forgotten.
Although July 4 is widely considered as the day that the Declaration was signed, in actuality only two people, John Hancock and Charles Thomson, signed a “typeset” version that day. Mr. Hancock was the president of the Second Continental Congress and Mr. Thomson was the secretary. Thereafter, the Declaration was handwritten on parchment, distributed to the colonies, and signed by all 56 members of Congress (including Messrs. Hancock and Thomson) starting on Aug. 2.
Thomas Jefferson was the main author of the Declaration assisted by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston.
The actual preliminary approval by Congress of the Declaration occurred on July 2, John Adams believed we should celebrate on that day. He also suggested that the celebration be with parades, bonfires and fireworks.
Two future presidents signed the Declaration, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They both died July 4, 1826.
President James Monroe died July 4, 1836 and President Calvin Coolidge was born July 4, 1872.
The names of the 56 signers of the Declaration were withheld from the public for more than six months because they believed if the Revolutionary War had gone the other way, they would have all been executed for treason.
Five of the signers were eventually captured by the British and imprisoned, but none were executed. Others lost their homes or property.
Thirteen signers became governors, 18 became state legislators, 16 became federal and state judges, seven became U.S. congressmen, six became U.S. senators, three became vice presidents and two became presidents.
I’ll stop here and simply say that as it turned out, thanks to these brave men and others, including a number of brave women, we ultimately won our freedom and the rest is history.
Irving Berlin once said in his famous song “God bless America.” To that, I say “Amen!”