Happy July 4th, 2021. In celebration of Independence Day, here in the United States, To celebrate Independence Day, here in the United States, I am reposting the story of 56 inspirational men who made a decision that changed the world.
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Today, July 4th, we will celebrate one of the greatest decisions ever made when 56 men signed their names to the Declaration of Independence. Most people know the story of this famous document that gave birth and freedom to a nation. What they don’t know is the events that led up to such a monumental decision by these men. The power behind this decision was not to be taken lightly. Each man was signing his own death warrant if they failed.
March 5, 1770
Everything began with a battle on the streets of Boston on March 5, 1770. The colonists resented the presence of armed British soldiers patrolling the streets and openly threatening them. Infuriated, the colonists began hurling stones at the soldiers. This resulted in the commanding officer ordering his men to, “Fix bayonets and charge!” The battle resulted in many men being killed and injured. Because of the incident, the Provincial Assembly called a meeting to take definite action. During the meeting, John Hancock and Samuel Adams bravely declared that all British soldiers must be ejected from Boston.
Adams was selected by the members to speak to the Governor. He requested a meeting and demanded the withdrawal of troops. The request was granted and the troops were removed. Even without the troops, issues remained. Adams and Richard Henry Lee began communicating frequently by letter about their concerns for the people. Adams then conceived the idea to coordinate the efforts of the 13 colonies through a mutual exchange of correspondence.
Two Years Later
Two years later in March 1772, Adams presented a motion to the Assembly that a Correspondence Committee be established by the colonies. This was the beginning of the organization of a power that gives us the freedom we enjoy today. This Correspondence Committee constituted the first organized planning of the disgruntled Colonists. The Colonists had been conducting disorganized resistance similar to what took place in the city of Boston. However, their individual grievances had never before been consolidated.
The newly appointed Governor of Massachusetts sent a messenger to Adams in order to get him to cease his actions. The messenger, Colonel Fenton, told Adams that if he stopped his activities in opposition of the Crown, he would receive great personal advantages. On the other hand, if he did not cease he would be sent to England and be tried for treason. Adams made his decision instantly. He told Fenton that he had, a long time ago, made his peace with the King of Kings. Therefore, no bribe would make him abandon the righteous cause of his Country.
The First Continental Congress
When the Governor received Adams’ answer, he was enraged. He issued a pardon to all who would lay down their arms and return to being peaceful subjects of the King. This pardon applied to all subjects except for Adams and Hancock. Upon hearing this, they were forced to call a secret meeting of their followers and locked the doors. They said it was imperative that a Congress of the Colonists be formed. No man should leave until they had made their decision.
Objections, doubt, and fear were raised by the men in the room. Some questioned the wisdom of such a definite decision defying the Crown. Through the influence of their minds, Adams and Hancock convinced the others to agree. Arrangements were made for a meeting of the First Continental Congress, on September 5, 1774, in Philadelphia. This is a particularly important date. If this meeting were never held, there wouldn’t have been a signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Richard Henry Lee
Before the first meeting was held, Thomas Jefferson published his work, “Summary View of the Rights of British America.” Shortly after it was published, he was informed by the representative of the Crown in Virginia that he was subject to prosecution for high treason. These were men of great fortitude. They lacked authority, military strength, or power. Still, they sat and deliberated the destiny of the colonies while under the threat of death.
They continued to meet at intervals for two years. On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee made this motion: “Gentlemen, I make the motion that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states, that they be 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.” The members continued to discuss the issue for days until Lee addressed the Assembly once again by saying, “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 of law.”
Declaration Of Independence
Shortly thereafter, John Hancock established a committee, chaired by Jefferson, to draw up a Declaration of Independence. The document was written and when accepted by Congress, would mean death to every man who signed it should the colonies lose the inevitable war to follow. The original draft was read before Congress on June 28 and for several days it was discussed and altered. On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson read: “When in the course of human events it is 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 impelled them to the separation….”
A Death Warrant
After Jefferson had finished reading, the document was voted on, accepted, and signed by the fifty-six men. Each man knowing that he was staking his own life by making the decision to sign his name. The rest is history. Happy July 4th 2021! May God Bless America.
“Chapter 8 – Decision.” Think and Grow Rich: the Complete Classic Text, by Napoleon Hill, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008, pp. 203–213.