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The Week America was born

July 4, 2019
From: Joyce Wiese , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Many years ago I started saving articles concerning the founding of the United States. Here is excerpts from several of them.

-Joyce Wiese

July 1, 1776

A tall redhead emerged from his parlor and bedroom with a big brass key and a large squarish object which looked a lot like an easel. He locked his door, stepped out into the morning sun along the Delaware River and walked down Seventh Street to the State House. This young gentleman of 33 years was Thomas Jefferson.

It was not given to know that the "easel" was an invention of Jefferson's. It was a portable desk with rachets. When set upon the knees the upper leaf could be raised to 35 degrees of upright.

Or would anyone but Jefferson know that this morning the "easel" contained an instrument which he had devised entitled "The Unanimous Declaration of the 13 united STATES OF AMERICA. It would be read today by the clerk of the Second Continental Congress. Every word would be at the mercy of 54 other delegates, assuming that all of them might be present in the State House for the first time. Jefferson would tell his friends the Declaration was not the best of thinking. "It was an expression of the American mind".

Jefferson was lucky to have three noted sponsors among the delegates. One was Richard Henry Lee of the Virginia Lees, an elegant orator who had suggested in open forum the Colonies should give up trying an accommodation" with King George lll of Great Britain. Rather the Colonies should unite and t ell the King and his parliament that the Americans proclaimed themselves free and independent states.

Lee took the final step by offering a resolution to appoint a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence. His plea for complete severance from the crown was so brilliantly conceived the Congress voted five men to the committee, and denied Lee membership.

It was 9 a.m. on the outside clock and time to call Congress to order. As John Hancock rapped the palm of his hand on his desk for order, vote counters such as Franklin and John Adams saw the result as seven in favor (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia) and six against (Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina). Seven to six would hardly be a victory for freedom, certainly not a mandate.

It was almost noon when John Hancock resolved the Congress into a Committee of the Whole. A spokesman for Maryland stood and read a resolution passed by the governing body at Annapolis, "that the instructions given to our deputies in December last be recalled, and the restriction contained therein, removed and that the deputies be authorized and empowered to concur with the other United Colonies, or a majority of them, declaring the United Colonies, or a majority of them, free and independent States.

A shout went up from Massachusetts and Virginia. The resolution was noted and accepted.

The first of the Lee resolutions calling for freedom of the United Colonies, and cutting all ties with Great Britain, was read and debated. Those who would favor Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, would vote for the Lee resolution. It was served as a sample of the formal document to come.

John Dickinson, wealthy farmer from Pennsylvania, as sincere and honorable in his opposition to liberty as John Adams was in favor of it stood and stated "My conduct this day I expect wo;; give the finishing blow to my popularity. Yet I would rather forfeit popularity forever than vote away the blood and happiness of my countryman. He stated at present the colonies were too weak to fight the Crown and all its minions.

John Adams, a lawyer from Braintree, pointed his arguments with force. Thomas Jefferson thought Adams came out with a power of thought and expression that moved them from their seats. Adams argued the fight for freedom was already in being. The King was already at war with the Colonies. Must he be permitted to gobble them one by one? There was only one road to survival. Fight and win even if the effort required every able-bodied man, every growing boy. The enemy was already in their cities. Adams said they must seek help from France. France in her own interest had a score to settle with British for the loss of big tracts of land on the new continent.

If war was a fact and subjugation of the colonies was the goal of George lll, then why cower before him? It was approaching 4 p.m. which was considered dinner time. John Hancock asked the delegates to confer quietly and to vote at once on the Lee resolution. As Thomas Jefferson recorded the tally on his portable desk, he wrote "It was carried in the affirmative by the votes of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted against. Delaware with two votes divided and had no vote. New York had to await further instructions. The tally was nine to two. An adjournment till morning was granted South Carolina time to think it over.

July 2, 1776

Hancock had called Congress for 9 A.M. At 9:30 A.M. Congress was called to order. Hancock asked the Commit tee of the Whole report to the Congress regarding the Lee resolution of yesterday.

The sky was at its darkest and rain was coming down in sheets. A delegate sitting near a window heard hoofbeats on the cobblestones. The custodian unlocked the main door. A happy, but bedraggled, figure strode in reporting to Benjamin Harrison. Caesar Rodney of Delaware reported in as the third delegate from Delaware. Shedding a soaking jacket he shook hands with his fellow delegates Thomas McKean and George Read. Read was cool to the new delegate knowing his vote would not now count. With Delaware two for and one against, Delaware would go to a majority. The vote was 12 to zero with one abstaining.

July 3, 1776

John Adams, alone in a boarding house dwelled upon the passing of the Lee resolution and was impelled to write to his wife. He told her "Yesterday the greatest question was decided that ever was debated in America, and a greater perhaps never was, nor ever will be decided among men.

About 50 members were in the big room when the doorman closed and locked the double doors. John Hancock , sometimes called "King John", sat behind his desk. Once more Thomas Jefferson sat at the back of the room, the portable desk open on his knees. Today, for certain, his Declaration of Independence would be read. Benjamin Harrison, stepped up as presiding officer pro tem. Harrison said the draft would be read fully with no interruption as a first reading. If there were to be revisions it would be read again. When the document had been edited down the its final words, a vote would be taken.

July 4, 1776

This morning a vote was take n. When Delaware voted "Aye", with Caesar Rodney bouncing and beaming, the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE became a fact. It was the seventh vote of 13. With the rest of the states voting "Aye" the deed was done. America had voted to be a free nation. Within a short time the Revolutionary War between Great Britain and the United States (1776-1781) followed.

 
 
 

 

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