The day the Declaration of Independence was signed is a very important day in the history of the world. It was on that day that one of the earliest attempts at forming a democratic form of government was begun. Moreover, that day heralded an adventure into forming a government upon which the citizenry had a say in how the government was run. It was a time and place in the history of man during which the slogan could well have been No Tyrants Need Apply.
After many grievances were communicated to the British Throne, reigning King George III was recalcitrant in his indifference toward the wishes and needs of the colonies. Therefore, on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence and thus began the process of forming a new nation. Fighting already was being waged when the Declaration was crafted and signed and it would be 1783 before the war was won and independence from Briton was complete.
England was already blockading American trade. It appeared that something must be done. On June 7, 1776 Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution in the Continental Congress for a Declaration of Independence. A committee consisting of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston was named to draft the declaration. Livingston was named to draft the document but the final draft was largely the work of Jefferson with a few changes by Franklin and Adams. I read somewhere that Jefferson was considered the better writer and therefore he was picked to actually pen the document. The Declaration of Independence is now housed at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Jeffersons first draft is housed at the Library of Congress. The original thirteen colonies in the order of their founding are: Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
As I read the Declaration of Independence, I am struck by the fact that in history there have always been men of vision who are willing to risk their lives and their fortunes to advance a cause to which they are devoted. On July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress approved Lees resolution. On July 4, 1776 the document was adopted by that body.
John Hancock was the first of the members of the Continental Congress to sign that important document. Fifty-five others followed. The news caused great celebrations throughout the thirteen colonies. In New York, a lead statue of King George was melted and cast into bullets.
A break from England had been established but its success was to be won with musket, sword blood and courage by the Colonial fighting men. Women also had a role in the war. A few disguised themselves as men and joined the effort and exhibited much heroism. The men who signed the Declaration of Independence put their lives and fortunes on the line for what was to them a cause greater then themselves.
The state of Tennessee was admitted as a state 20 years following the signing of that great document. Sixty years after the signing Johnson County was formed from a portion of Carter County. As citizens of a state and county of this great nation we owe the signers a debt of gratitude for their vision and courage.