Two hundred and forty one years ago, our Founding Fathers were working diligently, trying to create a new country where men could live free. They had left their homelands for many diverse reasons and were determined to bring freedom for themselves and their posterity.
In the midst of the Revolutionary War, a small group of patriots known as the Committee of Five hammered out the Declaration of Independence. The committee was comprised of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, John Adams, and Robert Livingston. The group met and decided that Thomas Jefferson would write the first draft. He worked on the document over the next few days, and then the group edited his work. The committee presented their work to the full Continental Congress on June 28, 1776.
The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents in human history. It is America’s revolutionary Charter of Freedom and the document upon which our nation’s founding principles were established.
It is one of the most prominent efforts by human beings to stand up in the face of tyranny and proclaim that every human being has God-given rights to be free, to be protected and to pursue their lives the way they want to.
Our Founding Fathers had very strong beliefs about the sanctity of human choice and human conscience, meaning that each person should have the choice to believe what he wanted and not be forced into anything against his will. Today, we live in freedom because of the principles these Founders believed.
The Second Continental Congress actually made its decree for freedom on July 2, 1776, signing the Lee Resolution. Two days later, on July 4, Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, and the alarm for freedom was sounded at Independence Hall with the Liberty Bell. It was on August 4, 1776, after delegates of the Continental Congress had signed the document, that The Declaration of Independence was made official.
John Adams’ famous letter to his wife, Abigail, captures the spirit of the times. Writing on July 3, 1776 from Philadelphia, he said, “Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony ‘that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States might rightfully do…’ This … Day … will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival… . 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.”
Text from the Declaration of Independence
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The Liberty Bell was constructed in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s original constitution, the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly ordered the 2,000-pound copper and tin bell constructed. After being cracked during a test, and then recast twice, the bell was hung from the State House steeple in June 1753. Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Its most famous tolling was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.
As the British advanced toward Philadelphia in the fall of 1777, the bell was removed from the city and hidden in Allentown to save it from being melted down by the British and used for cannons. After the British defeat in 1781, the bell was returned to Philadelphia, which was the nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800.
My Country Tis of Thee
Moved deeply by the desire to create a national hymn that would allow the American people to offer praise to God for our wonderful land, a twenty-four-year-old theological student, Samuel Francis Smith, penned these lines on a scrap of paper in less than thirty minutes in 1832. Yet even today many consider My Country, ‘Tis of Thee their favorite patriotic hymn and call it our “unofficial national anthem.”
As we celebrate Independence Day, let us take time to reflect on our Founding Fathers and what these patriots endured to create America – the great nation we have today. Where would we be without their courage and determination? Without our very freedom?
Let us be ever aware that freedom isn’t free and can slip through our fingers unless we are vigilant and determined to keep our country strong.
“Margaret Mead, who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I hope you enjoyed reading this article.
Be sure to check out another of my articles: Israel – God’s Chosen People?
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