Fifty six men were signers of the Declaration of Independence. They represented the thirteen original colonies. That small group of patriots would cause a great reaction when it was released to the world.
What kind of men were these? Some were doctors and lawyers. Some were merchants. Some were farmers. They came from several walks of life. All of them had one goal and that was to be free from the tight hold of the British government. They’d been taxed beyond their means. They were also plagued by British troops, acting as police. Those who were to keep order often killed innocent victims and created havoc in the streets and across the countryside. This new land was still in its infancy, but it was comprised of ethical men who saw beyond the hard work necessary to build a new country. They were willing to invest in this union with their very lives if necessary.
The document was intended to be signed on July 1, but there were differences of opinion on the wording. It was presented to the Continental Congress on July 4th and adopted by twelve out of thirteen colonies. New York delegates had not yet received authorization from their home assembly to do so. Still July 4 was determined to be the day that our declaration of independence was established. The actual signing of the document did not take place until July 9th.
The backdrop of the New York harbor was filled with British ships. On that day, George Washington, who was commander of the continental forces in New York, read the document to a crowd of citizens. They cheered the words. The cheering turned to rioting and the eventual vandalizing of a statue of King George III. They melted down the metal and it is said they used it to shape 42,000 musket balls for the revolution.
John Adams wrote to his wife this following thought:
“I am apt to believe that [Independence Day] 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 shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
When we think about slavery, lets consider what would’ve occurred had not the Revolution taken place. We would all be under the thumb of a foreign nation and slaves to tyranny. Because we have this document, we can see that freedom is for all, not just a select few.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died fifty years later in 1826 on the same day, within 5 hours of each other. Both of these signers and patriots who stood up for freedom would go on to become presidents of the United States. They also had this in common. They died on the 4th of July.