ON THIS INDEPENDENCE DAY, REMEMBER THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE EVENT. THE COURAGE AND FORESIGHT OF THESE MEN OPENED THE DOORS FOR POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACROSS THE WORLD. THE REVOLUTION THAT THEY BEGAN CONTINUES TO THIS DAY. DO NOT TAKE IT FOR GRANTED AND BE THANKFUL THAT YOU WERE BORN OR CAME TO A NATION THAT ALLOWS FOR ALL OF THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ARGUING THAT WE SOMETIMES LOATHE, BUT IRONICALLY, SHOULD CELEBRATE. WE ARE A MELTING POT THAT CONTINUES TO STIR, BUT IN THE END, WE ARE AMERICANS WITHOUT HYPHENATION. CELEBRATE YOUR AMERICAN HERITAGE.
232 years ago, a group of 56 men faced the gallows for what they contemplated doing. Someone may have been the catalyst to their moving forward and signing a document that would change world history. No one knows who that someone was but, he gave a speech that roused the emotions of the delegates in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Here is the text of what has become known as The Speech of the Unknown.
The delegates really voted in favor of the declaration on July 2, 1776. (see Second of July?) John Adams wrote to his wife that “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.” That letter wasn’t published until the 19th century and by that time the Fourth had become the traditional Independence Day. What happened on July 4 was an approval by the delegates of the final version of the document. The final version was not printed on parchment until July 19 and it wasn’t signed until August 2, 1776 by but 50 delegates. The other six got around to it later.
In 1817, John Trumbull painted the famous portrait of the signers of the Declaration. He hadn’t been there on July 4, 1776 but he did make sketches of many of the individuals and checked out the room so there is still some accuracy. One funny thing he did was to have John Adams stepping on Thomas Jefferson’s foot. Jefferson and Adams became fast friends but were political rivals. Both died on this date in 1826 exactly 50 years to the day of the official presentation of the Declaration of Independence. They were the only two signers of the declaration to become president. It is said that, on his deathbed, Adams said “Jefferson survives” or “Jefferson lives” not knowing that Tom had died a few hours earlier. I suppose it’s possible that Trumbull’s placement of Adams’ foot on the top of Jefferson’s was a statement of support for Adams who had been at odds over many issues with Jefferson. It just so happens that Trumbull had painted Adams’ portrait. However, I found one source that claims that the feet are merely close together and the claim of Adams stepping on his foot are unfounded. You decide for yourself on the photo on the left. Above is a thumbnail of montage of all of the signers that you can click on. Trumbull for some reason left 14 of the signers out of the portrait but did manage to put 5 other men in the picture that were not signers. I have yet to find out why he did that…perhaps he was making another statement or he did not know what they looked like.
The writer of the declaration, Thomas Jefferson was reluctant. John Adams had to convince him giving him three reasons:
“You are a Virginian and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of business”
” I(Adams) am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise.”
“You can write ten times better than I can.”
Jefferson responded, “if you are decided, then I will do as well as I can.”
And the rest they say, is history. King George though had no idea of what was happening. Back in England, he wrote in his diary on July 4, 1776 that not much happened. Oh…the folly of Kings.