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Imbush Peach

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Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Sunday, September 2, 2007





The First Announcement (For Everyone’s Review)


The Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes – (Virginia)


The Yellow Rose Of Texas Peace Bus–(Texas)

At this trouble filled juncture what is needed is an understanding of our history and heritage, and then to act accordingly. America will continue to thrive if we follow the lead of those who founded our country.


"Firebrand of the Revolution," Samuel Adams probably more than almost any other individual instigated and organized colonial resistance to the Crown. A talented polemicist and agitator-propagandist who relied more on his facile pen than the podium in behind-the-scenes manipulation of men and events, he religiously believed in the righteousness of his political causes, to which he persistently tried to convert others. He failed in gained a reputation as an eccentric and demonstrated as much indifference to his own welfare as he did solicitousness for that of the public Samuel signed both the Declaration and the Articles of Confederation.

In 1761, fifteen years before the United States of America burst onto the world stage with the Declaration of Independence, the American colonists were loyal British subjects who celebrated the coronation of their new King, George III. The colonies that stretched from present-day Maine to Georgia were distinctly English in character although they had been settled by Scots, Welsh, Irish, Dutch, Swedes, Finns, Africans, French, Germans, and Swiss, as well as English.

As English men and women, the American colonists were heirs to the thirteenth-century English document, the Magna Carta, which established the principles that no one is above the law (not even the King), and that no one can take away certain rights.

So in 1763, when the King began to assert his authority over the colonies to make them share the cost of the Seven Years' War England had just fought and won, the English colonists protested by invoking their rights as free men and loyal subjects. It was only after a decade of repeated efforts on the part of the colonists to defend their rights that they resorted to armed conflict and, eventually, to the unthinkable–separation from the motherland.

The sole governing authority presiding over the tumultuous events of the American Revolution between 1774 and 1789 was a body known as Congress. With no power to regulate commerce or lay taxes, and with little ability to enforce any of its decisions, this group, representing the thirteen colonies, declared independence, conducted a war that defeated one of the greatest military powers of its day, and invented a new political entity that became a sovereign independent nation. Its members pondered everything from the rightness of independence to the number of flints needed by the armies–sometimes with the enemy not far from their doorstep. Asserting their rights, they found themselves labeled as traitors.

The fifty-four men who composed the First Continental Congress represented different interests, religions, and regions; they held conflicting opinions as to how best restore their rights. Most did not know each other; some did not like each other. With no history of successful cooperation, they struggled to overcome their differences and, without any way of knowing if the future held success or nooses for them all, they started down a long and perilous road toward independence.

In June 1776, as Thomas Jefferson composed a draft of the Declaration of Independence from a second floor parlor of a bricklayer's house in Philadelphia, the largest invasion force in British military history was headed for New York Harbor. By the time the last of the fifty-six signers had affixed their names to the final, edited document months later, an invading force of British soldiers had landed at Staten Island, the British had taken New York City, and the American patriots had committed themselves to a long and bloody struggle for liberty and independence.

In 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote a note to James Madison about the future possibility of a president who didn't understand the principles on which America was founded. "The tyranny of the legislatures is the most formidable dread at present," he wrote, "and will be for many years. That of the executive will come in its turn, but it will be at a remote period."

The new so-called conservatives claim the power to violate citizens' private lives because, they say, there is no "right to privacy" in the United States. In that, they overlook the history of America and the Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776.

And they miss a basic understanding of the evolution of language in the United States.

Of course, they're not the first to have made these mistakes.

When I was a teenager, it was a felony in parts of the United States to advise a married couple about how to practice birth control. This ended in 1965, in the Griswold v. Connecticut case before the U.S. Supreme Court, when the Court reversed the criminal conviction of a Planned Parenthood program director who had discussed contraception with a married couple, and of a doctor who had prescribed a birth-control device to them.

The majority of the Court summarized their ruling by saying, "Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy...."

However, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart disagreed back in 1965, saying that he could find no "right of privacy" in the Constitution of the United States. Using his logic, under the laws of the day, the couple in question could themselves have been sent to prison for using birth control in their own bedroom.

As Justice Stewart wrote in his dissent in the case, "Since 1879 Connecticut has had on its books a law which forbids the use of contraceptives by anyone.... What provision of the Constitution, then, makes this state law invalid? The Court says it is the right of privacy 'created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees.' With all deference, I can find no such general right of privacy in the Bill of Rights, in any other part of the Constitution, or in any case ever before decided by this Court."

In that view of American law, Justice Clarence Thomas - George W. Bush's "role model" for future Supreme Court nominees - agrees.

In his dissent in the Texas sodomy case, Thomas wrote, "just like Justice Stewart, I 'can find [neither in the Bill of Rights nor any other part of the Constitution a] general right of privacy,' or as the Court terms it today, the 'liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions.'"

Echoing Thomas' so-called conservative perspective, Rush Limbaugh said on his radio program on June 27, 2003, "There is no right to privacy specifically enumerated in the Constitution." Jerry Falwell similarly agreed on Fox News.

Limbaugh and Thomas may soon also point out to us that the Constitution doesn't specifically grant a right to marry, and thus license that function exclusively to, say, Falwell. The Constitution doesn't grant a right to eat, or to read, or to have children. Yet do we doubt these are rights we hold?

The simple reality is that there are many "rights" that are not specified in the Constitution, but which we daily enjoy and cannot be taken away from us by the government. But if that's the case, Bush and Thomas would say, why doesn't the Constitution list those rights in the Bill of Rights?

The reason is simple: the Constitution wasn't written as a vehicle to grant us rights. We don't derive our rights from the constitution.

Rather, in the minds of the Founders, human rights are inalienable - inseparable - from humans themselves. We are born with rights by simple fact of existence, as defined by John Locke and written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident," the Founders wrote. Humans are "endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights...."

These rights are clear and obvious, the Founders repeatedly said. They belong to us from birth, as opposed to something the Constitution must hand to us, and are more ancient than any government.

The job of the Constitution was to define a legal framework within which government and business could operate in a manner least intrusive to "We, The People," who are the holders of the rights. In its first draft it didn't even have a Bill of Rights, because the Framers felt it wasn't necessary to state out loud that human rights came from something greater, larger, and older than government. They all knew this; it was simply obvious.

Thomas Jefferson, however, foreseeing a time when the concepts fundamental to the founding of America were forgotten, strongly argued that the Constitution must contain at least a rudimentary statement of rights, laying out those main areas where government could, at the minimum, never intrude into our lives.

Jefferson was in France when Madison sent him the first draft of the new Constitution, and he wrote back on December 20, 1787, that, "I will now tell you what I do not like [about the new constitution]. First, the omission of a bill of rights, providing clearly, and without the aid of sophism, for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction of monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land..."

There had already been discussion among the delegates to the constitutional convention about whether they should go to the trouble of enumerating the human rights they had held up to the world with the Declaration of Independence, but the consensus had been that it was unnecessary.

The Declaration, the writings of many of the Founders and Framers, and no shortage of other documents made amply clear the Founders' and the Framers' sentiments that human rights were solely the province of humans, and that governments don't grant rights but, rather, that in a constitutionally limited democratic republic We, The People - the holders of the rights - grant to our governments whatever privileges our government may need to function (while keeping the rights for ourselves).

This is the fundamental difference between kingdoms, theocracies, feudal states, and a democratic republic. In the former three, people must beg for their rights at the pleasure of the rulers. In the latter, the republic derives its legitimacy from the people, the sole holders of rights.

Although the purpose of the Constitution wasn't to grant rights to people, as kings and popes and feudal lords had done in the past, Jefferson felt it was necessary to be absolutely unambiguous about the solid reality that humans are holders of rights, and that in no way was the Constitution or the new government of the United States to ever be allowed to infringe on those rights. The Constitution's authors well understood this, Jefferson noted, having just fought a revolutionary war to gain their "self-evident" and "inalienable" rights from King George, but he also felt strongly that both the common person of the day and future generations must be reminded of this reality.

"To say, as Mr. Wilson does, that a bill of rights was not necessary," Jefferson wrote in his December 1787 letter to Madison, "...might do for the audience to which it was addressed..." But it wasn't enough. Human rights may be well known to those writing the constitution, they may all agree that governments may not infringe on human rights, but, nonetheless, we must not trust that simply inferring this truth is enough for future generations who have not so carefully read history or who may foolishly elect leaders inclined toward tyranny.

"Let me add," Jefferson wrote, "that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular; and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference."

Madison took Jefferson's notes and shared them with Hamilton, Adams, Mason, and others, and then sent a letter to Jefferson outlining the objections to a Bill of Rights that had been raised by the members of the constitutional convention.

On March 15, 1789, Jefferson replied to Madison: "I am happy to find that, on the whole, you are a friend to this amendment. The declaration of rights is, like all other human blessings, alloyed with some inconveniences, and not accomplishing fully its object. But the good in this instance vastly overweighs the evil.

"I cannot refrain from making short answers to the objections which your letter states to have been raised [by others]:

"1. 'That the rights in question are reserved, by the manner in which the federal powers are granted.' Answer. A constitutive act [the Constitution] may, certainly, be so formed, as to need no declaration of rights. ... In the draught of a constitution which I had once a thought of proposing in Virginia, and I printed afterwards, I endeavored to reach all the great objects of public liberty, and did not mean to add a declaration of rights. ... But...this instrument [the U.S. Constitution] forms us into one State, as to certain objects, and gives us a legislative and executive body for these objects. It should, therefore, guard us against their abuses of power, within the field submitted to them."

In this, Jefferson is stating openly that the purpose of the Constitution - and even the Bill of Rights - is not to grant rights to the people, but to restrain government. It doesn't grant, it limits.

And, Jefferson said, his proposed Bill of Rights was only a beginning and imperfect; it would be nearly impossible to list in detail all the rights humans have. But a start, a try, is better than nothing - at least it will make clear that the purpose of the constitution is to limit government:

"2. 'A positive declaration of some essential rights could not be obtained in the requisite latitude.' Answer. Half a loaf is better than no bread. If we cannot secure all our rights, let us secure what we can."

His third point was that the states may try to limit peoples rights if the explicit nature of government and rights wasn't spelled out in the Constitution through a Bill of Rights, so the constitution protected citizens from tyrannical state governments who may overreach (as the Supreme Court ultimately ruled Connecticut had done in banning birth control).

And, finally, Jefferson noted that if they were to err, it would be better to err on the side of over-defining rights - even if past efforts had proven unnecessary or nonviable - than under-defining them.

"4. 'Experience proves the inefficacy of a bill of rights.' True. But though it is not absolutely efficacious under all circumstances, it is of great potency always, and rarely inefficacious. A brace the more will often keep up the building which would have fallen, with that brace the less. There is a remarkable difference between the characters of the inconveniences which attend a declaration of rights, and those which attend the want of it. The inconveniences of the declaration are, that it may cramp government in its useful exertions. But the evil of this is short-lived, moderate and reparable. The inconveniences of the want of a declaration are permanent, afflicting and irreparable."

A Bill of Rights wasn't necessary, but it was important. We all knew the constitution was designed to define and constrain government, but it's still better to say too much about liberty than too little. Even though this thrown-together-at-the-last-minute Bill of Rights doesn't cover all the rights we consider self-evident, and may inconvenience government, it's better to include it than overlook it and risk future generations forgetting our words and deeds.

Beyond that, there's good reason to believe - as the majority of the Supreme Court did in the Griswold case, the Texas sodomy case, and at least a dozen others - that the Founders and Framers did write a right to privacy into the Constitution. However, living in the 18th Century, they never would have actually used the word "privacy" out loud or in writing. A search, for example, of all 16,000 of Thomas Jefferson's letters and writings produces not a single use of the word "privacy." Nor does Adams use the word in his writings, so far as I can find.

The reason is simple: "privacy" in 1776 was a code word for toilet functions. A person would say, "I need a moment of privacy" as a way of excusing themselves to go use the "privy" or outhouse. The chamber pots around the house, into which people relieved themselves during the evening and which were emptied in the morning, were referred to as "the privates," a phrase also used to describe genitals. Privacy, in short, was a word that wasn't generally used in political discourse or polite company during an era when women were expected to cover their arms and legs and discussion of bedroom behavior was unthinkable.

It wasn't until 1898 that Thomas Crapper began marketing the flush toilet and discussion of toilet functions became relatively acceptable. Prior to then, saying somebody had a "right to privacy" would have meant "a right to excrete." This was, of course, a right that was taken for granted and thus the Framers felt no need to specify it in the Constitution.

As you can see; this argument over basic privacy rights in America has been a lot of crap right from the start. Forgive me; I just couldn’t resist.

Instead, the word of the day was "security," and in many ways it meant what we today mean when we say "privacy." Consider, for example, the Fourth Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...."

Similarly, "liberty" was also understood, in one of its dimensions, to mean something close to what today we'd call "privacy." The Fifth Amendment talks about how "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property..." and the Fourteenth Amendment adds that "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property...." And, of course, the Declaration of Independence itself proclaims that all "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

So now, on the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we have come to that remote period in time Jefferson was concerned about. Our leaders, ignorant of or ignoring the history of this nation's founding, make a parody of liberty and, with their so-called "Patriot Act," flaunt their challenges even to those rights explicitly defined in the Constitution.

Our best defense against today's pervasive ignorance about American history and human rights is education, a task that Jefferson undertook in starting the University of Virginia to provide a comprehensive and free public education to all capable students. A well-informed populace will always preserve liberty better than a powerful government, a philosophy which led the University of California and others to once offer free education to their states' citizens.

As Jefferson noted in that first letter to Madison: "And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people. This last is the most certain, and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."

The majority of the Supreme Court wrote in their opinion in the 1965 Griswold case legalizing contraception that, "We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights [and] older than our political parties..." saying explicitly that the right of privacy is a fundamental personal right, emanating "from the totality of the constitutional scheme under which we live."

Hopefully Americans - including The Supreme Court members - will realize that the Constitution doesn't grant rights but instead constrains government. Our rights predate any government, a fact recognized when the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. We must teach the younger generation and inform the world about the essentials of human rights and how our constitutional republic works - deriving its sole powers from the consent of We, The People who hold the rights - if democracy is to survive.

By Carl G. Karsch


First steps toward the eventual break with Great Britain took place in Boston shortly before Christmas, 1773, when 150 men, thinly disguised as Mohawk Indians, dumped chests of East India Company tea into the harbor. The issue came down to money, as it so often does. Parliament had granted the Company exclusive rights to sell tea in the colonies through its agents. Merchants whose loyalty to the King was in doubt would be out of business. John Hancock, one of Boston's most affluent and least loyal merchants, fought back by giving tacit support to what became known as the Boston Tea Party. Later, in 1775, he would be elected President of the Second Continental Congress.

King George's reaction to this and similar protests in other cities was unflinching. "The die is now cast," he told his Prime Minister. "The colonies must either submit or triumph." Parliament backed this ultimatum with a series of bills called the Coercive Acts. The first closed the port of Boston until the ruined tea was paid for. The Massachusetts Regulating Act all but nullified the colony's charter. Finally, the Quebec Act extended Canada's borders westward into land New Englanders hoped to exploit themselves. Moreover, to help gain the loyalty of Quebec's settlers, the act established both French civil law and the Roman Catholic Church.

Parliament then provided muscle by sending as a replacement for the civilian governor a tough military commander, General Thomas Gage. It also strengthened the Quartering Act, giving Gage the right to demand food and lodging from Bostonians for more than 4,000 regulars.

Events now picked up speed. In May, 1774, five months after the tea party, Paul Revere made one of his less celebrated but crucial rides. Heading south from Boston, he brought news to each town and city as far distant as Philadelphia that beginning in June, Boston would be blockaded by warships of the British fleet, thus destroying the city's commerce. Committees of Correspondence made up of anti-loyalist leaders in each colony already were calling for a Congress to consider how to restore their rights as British citizens. Paul Revere's personal appeal for unified opposition helped assure the meeting.

Soon in every colonial Assembly from Massachusetts to South Carolina delegates were being selected for the journey to Philadelphia. Only one colony — Georgia, the newest and most distant — failed to respond.

By August representatives from eleven colonies commenced an often uncomfortable journey over rutted, dusty roads and with overnight stops at inns with few creature comforts. Pennsylvania's representatives had it easy; they already lived in America's largest, wealthiest and best appointed city. One of the colony's seven delegates was Samuel Rhoads, a civic leader as well as a member of the Carpenters' Company.

Massachusetts' four delegates — including John Adams and his firebrand cousin, Samuel — departed Boston August 19 following a gala dinner with 50 well-wishers. In high spirits, they reflected the optimism of other delegates to the Congress. A display of unity would certainly persuade Parliament and the King to retreat from the "Intolerable Acts," as they came to be known. The delegates were to be proved terribly wrong.


Hot is an understatement for the summer and fall of 1774. Jouncing along in a cramped coach must have been an ordeal. Wool clothing added to discomfort. Abigail Adams worried about her husband but admitted she wanted him "upon the stage of action." She got her wish. For the rest of Adams' political life, that's where he would be found. On August 29 — 19 days after leaving Boston — the coach bearing the Massachusetts delegation pulled up at the City Tavern, Philadelphia's premiere hostelry. Although reconstructed, the Tavern is today at the same location, on Second Street just above Walnut.

After refreshing themselves, the men from Massachusetts crossed the street to the more modest, and affordable accommodations of Mrs. Sarah Yard's lodging house. John Adams recorded his expenses for room and board as 30 shillings a week in Pennsylvania currency; candles and firewood were extra. Nearby was the "slate roof house," where William Penn stayed during his second trip. Welcome Park, honoring Penn's ship, now marks the site.

The following week passed quickly as delegates became acquainted with each other and their political views. Differences soon surfaced. How far should Congress press Britain for control over governing colonial affairs, especially the inflammatory issue of taxation? No one spoke of independence or even considered it, except for Sam Adams whose anti-British views were well known.

First sticking point was the meeting place. Joseph Galloway, aristocratic speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly and a loyalist, offered the State House, now Independence Hall. He and his conservative supporters felt these impressive surroundings would dampen enthusiasm for radical actions. It also was his turf. That's exactly the problem, responded the opposition. Neutral ground closer to the tastes of average citizens is what we need. Carpenters' Hall fit the bill. Galloway and his followers lost a crucial battle. But there were more to come.

Sam Adams, the tireless politician, also won the next two. Managing to be chosen temporary secretary of the Congress, he asked Thomas Lynch, a fervent revolutionary and prosperous planter from South Carolina, to nominate Charles Thomson as permanent secretary. Thomson, an arch enemy of Galloway, was known as the Sam Adams of Philadelphia. Despite vigorous objections, Thomson was elected — unanimously, according to the record.

For President of the Congress, delegates chose Peyton Randolph of Virginia, a calm proponent rather than a harsh advocate of united action. Randolph was not Galloway's first choice.

On Monday, September 5, Congress got down to business. A member of each delegation read aloud credentials from the respective colonial Assembly . All declared their support, but the reading took all day. So much for Monday. Tuesday brought agreement on several issues: that each colony would have one vote, regardless of population; that no one might speak more than twice on the same point without permission; and most important, "that the door be kept shut during the time of business, and that the members consider themselves under the strongest obligations of honor to keep the proceedings secret, until the majority direct them to be made public."

In other words, no leaks to the press.

Congress also established two committees to recommend action on areas of dispute with Britain. Two delegates from each colony were appointed to a committee to define colonial rights and how Parliament and the King had infringed upon them. A second committee comprising one delegate per colony was charged with specifying how acts of Parliament had seriously affected the colonial economy. Consequently, daily sessions of Congress had to be suspended temporarily, since most delegates now sat on committees.

It was on Friday, September 16 — a day committees were deliberating — that Paul Revere galloped down Second Street to Philadelphia's City Tavern with a document which, if adopted, would make a break with Britain unavoidable. Ten days earlier, on September 6 — the day after Congress convened — 50 citizens representing Boston and other communities of Suffolk County endorsed what they named the Suffolk Resolves.

The Saturday morning session began at 9 o'clock with President Randolph reading aloud in as calm a voice as possible the nineteen paragraphs and concluding message to General Gage. The Resolves minced no words. "Arbitrary will ...military executioners ... murderous law ... villains ... our enemies." Further, the Resolves urged Suffolk communities to raise a militia "to learn the arts of war." The "Intolerable Acts" passed by Parliament were "gross infractions." As a parting shot, the Resolves called for an embargo on British goods, in effect closing British ports in retaliation for closing the port of Boston.

Everyone listened attentively until the end, then wild applause from most but not all the delegates. Galloway shouted over the din: "For Congress to countenance such a statement is tantamount to a complete declaration of war." He was right. But few were in a mood to listen. Congress adopted the Resolves by a unanimous vote, at least according to the record.


The urgency of Congressional business, however, didn't prevent delegates from exploring their host city, largest in the empire except for London itself. Philadelphia had no peer in the colonies. The State House was the largest; so was Christ Church with its Palladian window glistening above the chancel. Georgian-style mansions — most of them erected by Carpenters' Company members — lined the streets. On Sundays, the one day neither Congress nor committees met, delegates attended church services, sometimes two or three times.

John Adams recorded his opinion of them all, including a brand new experience. Together with Washington and several others, he attended mass at Old St. Mary's Catholic Church, on south Fourth Street. One day, to get a bird's eye view of the city, Adams climbed ladders inside the 100-foot tower and steeple of Christ Church. Two decades earlier, the Penn family donated both the bells and money toward the landmark steeple, erected by Robert Smith, who also designed Carpenters' Hall. Benjamin Franklin, as public spirited as ever, conducted a city-wide lottery to complete the steeple, an engineering achievement.

Philadelphians had a reputation for entertaining, including guests with whom they might disagree politically. John Adams, fond of eating but accustomed to plainer New England fare, wrote to Abigail: " I shall be killed with kindness in this place. We go to Congress at nine and there we stay, most earnestly engaged until three in the afternoon, then we adjourn and go to dinner with some of the nobles of Pennsylvania at four o'clock and feast on ten thousand delicacies, and sit drinking Madeira, claret and burgundy 'til six or seven."

His hosts included Benjamin Chew, Chief Justice of the Province, around whose country home in Germantown a Revolutionary battle would later swirl. Adams recorded "a most sinful feast again," at the home of Samuel Powel, on south Third Street. Powel, grandson of a member of the Carpenters' Company, had the distinction of being the last mayor under British rule and the first under the new American government. A tour of his magnificent four-story mansion is a highlight for visitors today.

The city's elite, gracious hosts that they were, disagreed with delegates who wanted a radical change in the relationship with England. Trade and the prosperity that it brought depended upon an uninterrupted flow of goods and raw materials through the largest port in the western hemisphere. A moderate, middle ground must be found. Joseph Galloway had a solution, a Plan of Union, which ironically became the precursor of constitutions other British colonies would adopt in the nineteenth century.

A powerful speaker, Galloway outlined to the Congress his proposal for a British-American legislature. Each colony would manage its own affairs; issues concerning trade would be considered by the new legislature, in which both Britain and America would each have veto power over acts concerning America. Despite considerable support for Galloway's plan, it was voted down by a narrow margin of six to five. Later, when Galloway and his supporters were absent, Sam Adams proposed a motion striking all mention of the Plan from the record. Officially, the last best opportunity to avoid a war never even happened.

Congress was no longer in a mood to compromise. Each day's debate brought agreement closer on the meeting's two principal accomplishments: the Declaration of Rights and Grievances and formation of a Continental Association.

The first document, after rejecting the Coercive (or "Intolerable") Acts, specified the only acceptable basis for a continued relationship between England and America. The critically important Article Four, authored by John Adams, states that representation of the people in their legislature is a fundamental English right, essential to free government. Moreover, because colonists could not and were not represented in Parliament, then that body had no control over them; that only by consent of the colonies — which America cheerfully granted — did Parliament have a right to regulate trade. Regulation, however, must not have as its purpose the raising of any kind of revenue.

The Continental Association became the most visible symbol of political unity among the colonies. By December 1, 1774, they agreed not to import or consume British goods. To gain support of southern colonies, the non-exportation agreement would not go into effect until September 10, 1775. After that date, goods could no longer be exported to Britain, Ireland or the West Indies. There were other declarations: to the inhabitants of Quebec, to the "Several American Colonies," and a direct petition to the King himself.

In the days before adjournment Congress approved all the documents for publication by the official printer, William and Thomas Bradford, whose office was at the London Coffee House, at Front & Market Streets. A sign now marks the site. Paper was produced locally at mills along the Wissahickon Creek. Remnants of America's first paper mill may still be visited at the foot of Rittenhouse Lane.

A banquet at the City Tavern — hosted surprisingly by the Pennsylvania Assembly — was the gala finale to the First Congress. Five hundred guests raised thirty-five toasts, including one to the King. Optimism reigned. But by the sober light of morning, delegates must have wondered what the Congress had accomplished. How would Britain react to the declarations?

Joseph Galloway and his fellow conservatives must have been bitterly disappointed. In their minds, war could not be far distant. John Adams recorded the opinions of several delegates. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia told him, " ... all the offensive acts will be repealed; the army and fleet will be recalled, and Britain will give up her foolish project." Washington, Adams recorded, "was in doubt. He never spoke in public." But privately he believed success depended upon how well communities enforced the Continental Association's embargo on imports and exports.

Adams' own opinion was that the declarations and embargo agreements would cement the union of the colonies but "would be but waste paper in England." He voiced his fears to Patrick Henry who agreed. Then to test Henry's true sentiments, Adams read aloud a letter he received from a Major Hawley.

"We must fight," Hawley wrote, "if we cannot otherwise rid ourselves of British taxation, all revenues, and the constitution or form of government enacted for us by the British Parliament. It is evil against right — utterly intolerable to every man who has any idea or feeling of right or liberty." While Adams read, Henry listened attentively. Again Adams read, "Fight we must , finally, unless Britain retreats." At those words, Henry shouted, "By God, I am of that man's mind."

Success Was Far From Certain When The Members Of The Second Continental Congress, Voted For American Independence.

"A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress Assembled, July 4, 1776 . . ."

In the old drawings and paintings, they look faintly ridiculous. Nervous men standing about in white wigs and knee-length coats with piles of white lace cascading down their chests. One leans on a cane, another shuffles papers on his desk. A third gazes out a nearby window, wishing he could go home to his native Virginia or Rhode Island or Georgia—anyplace away from Philadelphia in the steaming heat of July. Nine are acknowledged Freemasons, including John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin. Perhaps others are Brothers, too. History doesn't tell.

These worried men, gathered in the heat of the assembly room of the old Pennsylvania State House, are the members of the Second Continental Congress. They represent each of the 13 Colonies united against Great Britain. For more than a year, while the shooting goes on and the troops of King George occupy New York, these men have been arguing about war and peace, independence and loyalty. Most of them have serious doubts and real fears about what they are doing.

"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another . . ."

You can visit that assembly hall today. There is a soft, mellow feeling there that belies the emotionally charged debates of those days in 1776. Old wood, lovingly cared for, glows in the soft light. Desks stand with their inkwells and quill pens seemingly ready for the delegates to arrive. Today, this building is Independence Hall, the keystone of Independence National Historical Park, a collection of historic sites in the center of Philadelphia. Two centuries ago, before it became a national treasure, the red brick structure was simply the Pennsylvania State House, a convenient meeting place removed from the battle lines.

If you stand quietly in the assembly room, away from the tours and other visitors, you can try to catch the infectious spirit that ran like an electric current through this room more than two centuries ago. See with the eyes of imagination.

Lounging near the door in his tall riding boots is "Light Horse Harry" Lee. He will be instrumental in bringing the issue of independence to a vote in this room. The day will come, though not in his lifetime, when his son, Robert E. Lee, will lead the forces attempting to undo what is being done this day in Philadelphia. The tall, red-headed man whose hands are covered with ink stains is Thomas Jefferson.

Many will attempt to claim Masonic membership for him. Perhaps in his heart, where all are first prepared, but no evidence beyond that. He has written more than 1,800 words during the night—the first draft of a declaration of colonial independence.

The others are here, too. There's Sam Adams, the firebrand leader of the Sons of Liberty and one of the strongest voices for revolution. John Adams, quieter but just as resolute, is here—probably worrying about his wife, Abigail. So are Maryland's Carroll, the ailing Caesar Rodney from Delaware, and the great Dr. Franklin, already a legend and loving every minute of it. Leading the discussions is Hancock, President of the Congress.

From the 13 American Colonies, concerned and confused men have gathered in Philadelphia, in this room. Most have been here since early in the year.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal . . ."

The issue has not been a simple one. Most of the men in this room consider themselves good Englishmen. To advocate war—revolution and independence—is almost unthinkable. They search for another way. Even as British troops move on the harbor defenses at Charleston, South Carolina, the tired men in Philadelphia continue to talk.

They have been talking for months. During the winter months, they choked on smoke from two stoves. The issues sometimes brought tears to their eyes—more often, it was the smoke. Winter became spring, then summer, as they talked. The smoke was gone now, but the shuttered windows admitted few breezes, though hordes of flying insects.

". . . that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness . . ."

Finally, on June 7, Lee offers a resolution calling for independence from England. It is tabled until the delegates can arrive at a firm opinion on the question of independence. Four days later, Congress takes a time-honored way out—a committee is appointed to look into the matter of some sort of formal declaration. Jefferson heads it, with Robert Livingston, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Roger Sherman as members. The committee members promptly elect Jefferson to draft something on their behalf and, according to legend, they then disappear.

". . . whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government . . ."

A few blocks away, in a new three-story brick home at Market and Seventh streets, the 33-year-old Jefferson goes to work on the committee's declaration. He would much rather have been back in the cool hills of Virginia, at his beloved Monticello.

On June 28, the writer asks Franklin and Adams to read his draft. Then the committee votes to keep it hidden until July 1. No word of the declaration seeps outside the shuttered assembly room. The 55 delegates continue to argue almost constantly until July 2, when 12 of the 13 delegations, with New York abstaining, vote in favor of the principle of complete separation from England—total independence.

"The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states . . ."

At last, there is no more to say. The months of debate, the years of the erosion of rights and freedoms, come to an end. It is late in the day on July 4, near the supper hour, when Hancock begins the roll call. New Hampshire is first and votes for the declaration. One by one, the others vote aye—except for New York, which will abstain until later. As President of the Congress, Hancock would sign the revolutionary document the next day, after the public printer had prepared a clean copy. Knowing that their names on the declaration marked them as candidates for hanging if the Colonies lost the war, the others would sign later. By August 2, all had signed.

"We . . . solemnly publish and declare that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states . . . absolved from all allegiance to the British crown . . ."

The Declaration of Independence, the birth certificate of the United States, would be officially read from the steps of the State House on July 8. In the meantime, however, the members of the Congress went about their activities, approving an emergency request for rifle flints for Washington's army, preparing the defense of Philadelphia, arranging for the removal of Philadelphia's many bells so they would not be melted down into cannon by the British should the city fall.

The rest of the story is part of every American child's history book. The city did not fall, although the war continued until 1782. The bells of the city were never captured and can still be heard today. Independence Hall and many of the buildings that were important in the founding of the new nation are preserved today as part of the Historical Park. In the midst of the modern center of commerce and banking that has grown up around them, these buildings are a tangible link with that day in 1776 when a group of very nervous men gave their approval to a revolutionary declaration.

". . . 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."

Their pledge of lives, fortune, and honor was not lightly given. Many would pay dearly for their dedication to American freedom. These men, including Brothers of our Craft, gave us independence. The question still remains if we have the devotion, dedication, and will to keep it.

"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states.Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory.I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance."
- John Adams-

The Declaration of Independence, approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, is a statement of the principles that 2 days earlier had led Congress to vote for the independence of the American colonies from Great Britain. It was designed to influence public opinion, both at home and abroad, especially in France, to which the United States looked for military support.

The drafting of the document was entrusted to a committee consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. Because of Jefferson's reputation as a literary craftsman, the committee assigned the task to him, and with minor exceptions it is his work. Jefferson drew upon a long oppositionist tradition in Britain, as well as the English and French Enlightenments, as sources for his ideas; his language and the structure of his argument, however, most closely parallel the natural-rights theories of John Locke.

In justifying England's Glorious Revolution of 1688, Locke had advanced the contract theory of government, arguing that all "just" governments are founded on consent and are designed solely to protect people in their inherent rights to life, liberty, and property. Radical proponents of this theory had used it to justify civil disobedience whenever government encroached on any of the specified rights; the more conservative Jefferson held that resistance is justified only when a consistent course of policy shows an unmistakable design to establish tyranny.

King George III bore the brunt of Jefferson's attack, although earlier protests had been directed at Parliament and the governing ministry. This focus was necessary for a contractual justification of independence, as the colonists had consistently maintained that their only contract was with the crown.In one key respect Jefferson used Natural Law instead of natural-rights theory, substituting "the pursuit of happiness" for "property" in the trinity of inalienable rights. In this change, derived from the Swiss legal philosopher Emerich de Vattel, he emphasized public duty rather than (as the language seems to indicate) personal choice, for natural law theory is that happiness is attainable only by diligent cultivation of civic virtue.

Two passages in Jefferson's draft were rejected by the Congress -- an intemperate reference to the English people and a scathing denunciation of the slave trade. The document was otherwise adopted without significant change, and formal signing by 56 members of Congress began on Aug. 2, 1776.

John Adams to Abigail Adams3 July 1776:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore.

You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend those States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.*

In Congress, July 4, 1776


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be 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.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws of Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the Lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

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 these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. 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.


New Hampshire - Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thorton.

Massachusetts-Bay - Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.

Rhode Island - Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.

Connecticut - Roger Sherman, Sam'el Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.

Georgia - Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.

Maryland - Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrolton

Virginia - George Whthe, Richard Henry Lee, Th. Jefferson, Benja. Harrison, Ths. Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.

New York - Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frans. Lewis, Lewis Morris.

Pennsylvania - Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.

Delaware - Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read, Tho. M'Kean.

North Carolina - Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.

South Carolina - Edward Rutledge, Thos. Heyward, Junr., Thomas Lynch, Junr., Arthur Middleton.

New Jersey - Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark.

"Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor"

It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining and the wind was from the southeast. Up especially early, a tall bony, redheaded young Virginian found time to buy a new thermometer, for which he paid three pounds, fifteen shillings. He also bought gloves for Martha, his wife, who was ill at home.Thomas Jefferson arrived early at the statehouse. The temperature was 72.5 degrees and the horseflies weren't nearly so bad at that hour. It was a lovely room, very large, with gleaming white walls. The chairs were comfortable.

Facing the single door were two brass fireplaces, but they would not be used today.The moment the door was shut, and it was always kept locked, the room became an oven. The tall windows were shut, so that loud quarreling voices could not be heard by passersby. Small openings atop the windows allowed a slight stir of air, and also a large number of horseflies. Jefferson records that "the horseflies were dexterous in finding necks, and the silk of stockings was nothing to them." All discussing was punctuated by the slap of hands on necks.On the wall at the back, facing the president's desk, was a panoply -- consisting of a drum, swords, and banners seized from Fort Ticonderoga the previous year.

Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the place, shouting that they were taking it "in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"Now Congress got to work, promptly taking up an emergency measure about which there was discussion but no dissension. "Resolved: That an application be made to the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York."Then Congress transformed itself into a committee of the whole.

The Declaration of Independence was read aloud once more, and debate resumed. Though Jefferson was the best writer of all of them, he had been somewhat verbose. Congress hacked the excess away. They did a good job, as a side-by-side comparison of the rough draft and the final text shows. They cut the phrase "by a self-assumed power." "Climb" was replaced by "must read," then "must" was eliminated, then the whole sentence, and soon the whole paragraph was cut.

Jefferson groaned as they continued what he later called "their depredations." "Inherent and inalienable rights" came out "certain unalienable rights," and to this day no one knows who suggested the elegant change.

A total of 86 alterations were made. Almost 500 words were eliminated, leaving 1,337. At last, after three days of wrangling, the document was put to a vote.

Here in this hall Patrick Henry had once thundered: "I am no longer a Virginian, sir, but an American." But today the loud, sometimes bitter argument stilled, and without fanfare the vote was taken from north to south by colonies, as was the custom. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.

Much To Lose

What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you, the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words.

Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them? I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

Ben Franklin was the only really old man.

Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s.

Of the 56 almost half - 24 - were judges and lawyers.

Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property.

All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head.

He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward.

Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone." These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here.

They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion.

They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: "Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law. "The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost. "If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration. William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers' faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, "but in no face was he able to discern real fear." Stephan Hopkins, Ellery's colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."

"Most Glorious Service"

Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason.

All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken.

Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered. · Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered -- and his estates in what is now Harlem -- completely destroyed by British Soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality.

Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners through the efforts of Congress, she died from the effects of her abuse. · William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home they found a devastated ruin.

Philips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause. · Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family. ·

John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.

Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton's parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the Revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington's appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry. George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes. · John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: "Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country." · William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.

Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage, he and his young bride were drowned at sea. · Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large landholdings and estates.

Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson's palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched.

Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, "Why do you spare my home?" They replied, "Sir, out of respect to you." Nelson cried, "Give me the cannon!" and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson's sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson's property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.

Lives, Fortunes, Honor

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned.

Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact. And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark. He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship Jersey, where 11,000 American captives were to die.

The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament.

The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: "No." The 56 signers of the Declaration Of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "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."

My friends, I know you have a copy of the Declaration of Independence somewhere around the house - in an old history book (newer ones may well omit it), an encyclopedia, or one of those artificially aged "parchments" we all got in school years ago. I suggest that each of you take the time this month to read through the text of the Declaration, one of the most noble and beautiful political documents in human history. There is no more profound sentence than this: "We hold these truths to be 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..." These are far more than mere poetic words. The underlying ideas that infuse every sentence of this treatise have sustained this nation for more than two centuries.

They were forged in the crucible of great sacrifice. They are living words that spring from and satisfy the deepest cries for liberty in the human spirit. "Sacred honor" isn't a phrase we use much these days, but every American life is touched by the bounty of this, the Founders' legacy. It is freedom, tested by blood, and watered with tears.


Lyman Hall, George Walton, and Button Gwinnett travel to Washington separately. These three men come from backgrounds as diverse as the state itself, however, they unite in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for a common goal, the establishment of the United States of America.

The question of independence is raised by Richard Henry Lee on June 7, 1776. His resolutions lead to the appointment of a committee to prepare a declaration. Included in this committee are Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston. The draft is submitted to the Continental Congress on June 28, 1776.

Only Pennsylvania and South Carolina oppose the original draft of the document. The Delaware delegation is divided on the issue of independence. For the most part the others, including Georgia, are firmly in the pro-independence camp. For 4 days a vote on the document is delayed. During this time Edward Rutledge arrives to break the tie in the Delaware delegation. Both South Carolina and Pennsylvania are persuaded to vote for the declaration. On July 2, 1776, only the state of New York does not vote for independence.

CAESAR RODNEY was born October 7, 1728 near Dover in Kent County Delaware. His father, Caesar, was a planter who died when the son was only seventeen, leaving him a large estate. Rodney appears to have gained most of his education at home as was often the case with planters' sons. He entered public life early filling posts that included high sheriff of Kent County, register of wills, recorder of deeds, clerk of the orphan's court and Justice of the peace.

For more that a dozen years he was almost continuously a member of the House of Assembly, and at the age of thirty-three he attended the Stamp Act Congress in New York along with Thomas McKean. At the age of forty-one, Rodney was chosen speaker of the assembly and was appointed to the Supreme Court. He was also chosen to represent Delaware during both the first and second continental congress. He listened intently to the debates on independence without committing himself, but he was finally convinced that Britain "was making every kind of exertion in her favor to reduce us to unconditional submission…that no hope of reconciliation on constitutional principles could possibly remain".

In May of 1775, he was appointed a colonel and in September he became brigadier general of the Delaware militia. In 1776, he was alternately in his seat in congress, and at work in Delaware, stimulating the patriots and repressing the royalists. When the question of independence was raised he was delayed in getting to congress owing to the fact that, after presiding in June over the session of the assembly that had authorized support of the inter-colonial movement for independence and which virtually declared Delaware independent of the Crown, he had gone to Sussex County to look into a threatened Loyalist uprising.

He had just returned home when he learned from his colleague McKean that a vote was pending in Congress and he rushed northward to give his voice. McKean, knowing Rodney to be favorable to the declaration, urged him by special messenger to hasten his return. Rodney had ridden eighty miles through a rain swept night for his trip was urgent, his vote was needed desperately to break the deadlock in the Delaware delegation, as Thomas McKean and George Read were divided. His affirmative vote secured the consent of the Delaware delegation to the measure, and thus affected that unanimity among the colonies that was so essential to the cause of independence.

Caesar Rodney at age forty-eight was one of only three bachelors to sign the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps he chose not to marry because of a cancer that was already ravaging part of his eye and face. The cancerous growth on his face, from which he suffered for years and finally died, may have contributed to the oddity of his appearance, but his actions showed him to be a man of heroic proportions.

He had aroused conservative opposition in Kent County, which prevented his being elected to the state constitutional convention. In 1778, he became President of Delaware, as the chief executive of the state was then called. Serving until 1781, he was the war governor during a large part of the Revolution. His declining health interfered with later public service, but he was Speaker of the upper house of the legislature when he died on June 26,1784, in his fifty-sixth year.

A GRAPHIC REMINDER: The Third Continental Congress Graphics Preparation

YET ANOTHER COURSE OF ACTION: The Call For A Second Constitutional Convention


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