The ups and downs of everyday living may perhaps take precedent over our thoughts of the good fortune of being a citizen of these great United States of America. A few days earlier we observed and celebrated a day that each year commemorates the adoption by the Continental Congress of one of the most important documents in history: The Declaration of Independence. That day was celebrated with fireworks, a day at the beach or mountains, cookouts or other method of amusements. It would be interesting to know how many folks let the day go by without thinking of the cost in terms of bravery and foresight required at that point in time when that document was adopted.
On July 1, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and on the following day 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favor of Richard Henry Lees motion for independence. The delegates then spent the next two days debating and revising the language of a statement drafted by Thomas Jefferson. It was on July 4 that the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
The document laid out certain grievances directed toward King George III of England. One of the main concerns for the colonists was the high taxation King Georges England levied against them. At the time of the writing and adoption and signing of the Declaration of Independence, the 13 colonies consisted of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island.
With the Declaration of Independence, these colonists declared themselves sovereign and independent states. One of their earliest official flags consisted of 13 stripes alternating red and white from the top with an inset in the upper left of a circle of 13 stars on a blue background.
Quoting from the Declaration of Independence itself: 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. The Document goes on to include a long list of grievances against the king.
John Hancock, being president of Congress, was the first person to sign the document and because he was the leader of Congress, his signature was centered below the text. Per the National Archives, it was customary that other delegates began to sign at the right below the text in geographical order according to the states they represent, beginning with New Hampshire, the northernmost state and ending with Georgia, the southernmost state.
While many believe the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, it was actually signed beginning on July 2 and was not completed until late November. It was adopted on July 4, 1776.
It is well to remember that each of the men who signed the document did so with courage and convection, realizing the danger that they faced by doing so. They put their lives on the line. Benjamin Franklin expressed it right when he said, We must indeed hang together, or we most assuredly we shall hang separately.