Declaration of Independence – Chapter 3

Facts and Statistics About 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”.
 
This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language“, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history”. The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy and argued that it is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.
 
The Declaration is a beautifully written document that officially announced that the United States were no longer part of Great Britain. That these United States were establishing a new idea of government; one whose leadership did not govern by divine right, but was chosen by the people for the people themselves. This new government’s job was to protect the “Rights” of its citizens.
 
The Declaration was signed by 56 delegates and contains 27 grievances against the King of England. The Declaration of Independence is the birth certificate for the United States and serves as the Foundational Document for the United States of America. The US Constitution is built upon the Declaration and was written in a way intended to ensure protections against grievances outlined in the Declaration.
 
Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, nearly half (24) held seminary or Bible school degrees.
 
Two of the Signers were 26 at the time of the signing. Edward Rutledge (November 23, 1749) edged out Thomas Lynch Jr. (August 5, 1749) by just over three months to be the youngest Signer.
 
John Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister, and Lyman Hall was a pastor, teacher, and physician. Eight Signers were born in Europe. James Smith, George Taylor and Matthew Thorton were born in Ireland. Robert Morris and Button Gwinnett were born in England. James Wilson and John Witherspoon were born in Scotland. Finally, Francis Lewis was born in Wales. Pennsylvania had the largest number of representatives with nine Signers. The second largest group came from Virginia, which had seven Signers. Four signers were physicians, 24 were lawyers, and one was a printer. The remaining signers were mostly merchants or plantation owners.
 
While there were early versions that stated that we have inalienable rights, in the final version, we have unalienable rights.
 
The Declaration of Independence has been read and talked about more than any other American document. There are many books, essays, and treatises written about it. And yet, there are many different opinions about what the ideas in it really mean.  It helps to give a look into what it means to be American.
 
Some believe the declaration is all about individualism. Others see it as promoting civic engagement and participation in groups.
 
Historians see the Declaration as a way to define who an American is. Judges and lawyers use the document in the political process when creating and interpreting laws. In the next Chapter, we will begin to break down the Declaration into digestible components so that it can digested, explained, and understood. You will even get a chance to try to decide on your own point of view.
 
 
“We find it hard to believe that liberty could ever be lost in this country. But it can be lost, and it will be, if the time ever comes when these documents are regarded not as the supreme expression of our profound belief, but merely as curiosities in glass cases.”
~President Harry Truman, December 15, 1952
 
 
“We must be unanimous; there must be no pulling different ways; we must hang together.”
~John Hancock, July 4, 1776
 
 
“I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.”
~Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852
 
 
Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants?”
~Benjamin Rush, Pennsylvania delegate, July 20, 1811

 

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever…”
~Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.

 

“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual…… Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
~John Hancock, History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

 

“As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see”
~Benjamin Franklin

 

“The gospel of Jesus Christ prescribes the wisest rules for just conduct in every situation of life. Happy they who are enabled to obey them in all situations!”
~Benjamin Rush

 

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
~George Washington

 

“Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.”
~James Madison
 
 
References:
 
Allen Jayne, (2015). Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy, and Theology. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 48
 
Benson J. Lossing, (1870). Lives of the signers of the Declaration of American independence. Evans, Stoddart & Co. p. 292.
 
Benson J. Lossing, (1888). Our Country: A Household History for All Readers, from the Discovery of America to the Present Time, Volume 3. Appendix: Amies Publishing Company. p. 1-10.
 
Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, P.162
 
Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 180-182
 
Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 200-202
 
Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 224–225
 
David McCullough, (2015). 1776, Simon and Schuster The Declaration of Independence: A History, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
 
Dumas Malone, (1948). Jefferson the Virginian (Jefferson and His Time, Vol. 1 , Little, Brown and Company; 17th ptg. Edition, p. 221
 
Federalist No. 39, paragraph 2
 
Ian Christie and Benjamin Labaree, (1976). Empire or independence, 1760-1776: A British-American dialogue on the coming of the American Revolution, Phaidon Press; 1st Edition edition, p. 31
 
John Adams, (1776). “Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume: 3 January 1, 1776 – May 15, 1776”. Letter to James Warren
 
John M. Murrin, Paul E. Johnson, James M. McPherson, Alice Fahs, Gary Gerstle, (2013). Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People, Volume I: To 1877, Concise Edition. Cengage Learning. p. 121
 
Joseph Ellis, (2007). American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic, Knopf Publishing, pg. 55–56
 
Pauline Maier, (1998). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition, pg. 53-57
 
Pauline Maier, (1998). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition, pg. 125-128
 
Richard Kollen, (2004). Lexington: From Liberty’s Birthplace to Progressive Suburb. Arcadia Publishing. p. 27
 
Robert Middlekauff, (2007). The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789,  Oxford University Press; Revised, Expanded edition, pg. 241–242
 
Stephen E. Lucas, (1989). Justifying America: The Declaration of Independence as a Rhetorical Document, Southern Illinois University Press, p. 85
 
Stephen E. Lucas, (2012). The Stylistic Artistry of the Declaration of Independence  Thomas Jefferson, (1825). TO HENRY LEE – Thomas Jefferson The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816–1826
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
https://www.theologyofwork.org, accessed 10 Sep 2019

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Declaration of Independence – Chapter 2

Nations come into being in many ways. Military rebellion, civil strife, acts of heroism, acts of treachery, a thousand greater and lesser clashes between defenders of the old order and supporters of the new–all these occurrences and more have marked the emergences of new nations, large and small. The birth of the United States of America included them all. That birth was unique, not only in the immensity of its later impact on the course of world history and the growth of democracy, but also because so many of the threads in our national history run back through time to come together in one place, in one time, and in one document: the Declaration of Independence. 

The year 1776, celebrated as the birth year of the nation and for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was for those who carried the fight for independence forward a year of all too few victories, of sustained suffering, disease, hunger, desertion, cowardice, disillusionment, defeat, terrible discouragement, and fear, as they would never forget, but also of phenomenal courage and bedrock devotion to country, and that, too, they would never forget.

The people at the time the Declaration was signed were full aware that the Declaration itself was nothing but that, a declaration, without military success against what was the most formidable foe at that time. John Dickinson was one member of Congress who opposed the Declaration, referring to it as a “skiff made of paper.” Reverend Ezra Stiles wrote in his diary:

“Thus the congress has tied a Gordian knot, which the Parliament will find they can neither cut, nor untie. The thirteen united colonies now rise into an Independent Republic among the kingdoms, states, and empires on earth….And have I lived to see such an important and astonishing revolution?”

Everyone around the “new” United States, saw Washington and his army as the one means of deliverance of American Independence and all that was promised in the Declaration of Independence. The Congress of 1776 was operating based on conditions that had been deteriorating for over a decade prior but the Congress did not take their Declaration of Independence lightly, they fully recognized what they were doing. By the time the Declaration of Independence was adopted in July 1776, the Thirteen Colonies and Great Britain had been at war for more than a year.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” so that they and their posterity (us!) could enjoy both spiritual and civil liberties to a degree unknown in the world at that time. That pledge literally cost many of them their lives and fortunes.

 

How Did America Get To This Point?

Relations had been deteriorating between the colonies and the mother country since 1763 at the end of the French and Indian War. The Bank of England had been depleted largely in part because of the French and Indian War and they needed to replenish the “royal coffers”. The answer to the dilemma by the English Parliament was to enact a series of measures to increase revenue from the colonies, such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767. Parliament believed that these acts were a legitimate means of having the colonies pay their fair share of the costs to keep them in the British Empire.

Many colonists, however, had developed a different conception of the empire. The colonies were not directly represented in Parliament, and colonists argued that Parliament had no right to levy taxes upon them. This tax dispute was part of a larger divergence between British and American interpretations of the British Constitution and the extent of Parliament’s authority in the colonies. The orthodox British view, dating from the “Glorious Revolution of 1688“, was that Parliament was the supreme authority throughout the empire, and so, by definition, anything that Parliament did was constitutional. The Glorious Revolution led to the English Declaration of Rights that would later be used by the Continental Congress to write their own Declaration of Independence. The colonies held to the idea that the British Constitution recognized certain fundamental rights that no government could violate, not even Parliament. After the Townshend Acts, some essayists even began to question whether Parliament had any legitimate jurisdiction in the colonies at all. Anticipating the arrangement of the British Commonwealth, by 1774 American writers such as Samuel Adams, James Wilson, and Thomas Jefferson were arguing that Parliament was the legislature of Great Britain only, and that the colonies, which had their own legislatures, were connected to the rest of the empire only through their allegiance to the Crown.

By the early 1770s, more and more colonists were becoming convinced that Parliament intended to take away their freedom. In fact, the Americans saw a pattern of increasing oppression and corruption happening all around the world. Parliament was determined to bring its unruly American subjects to heel so by early 1775, Britain began preparing for war. The first fighting broke out in April in Massachusetts and in August, the King had declared the colonists “in a state of open and avowed rebellion.” For the first time, many colonists began to seriously consider cutting ties with Britain. Thomas Paine published a pamphlet titled “Common Sense” in early 1776 which became a literary explosion across America at that time and lit a fire under this previously unthinkable idea. The movement for independence was now in full swing.

In answer to actions that Britain took in 1775, the colonists decided to elect delegates to attend a Continental Congress that eventually became the governing body of the union during the Revolution. In fear for their lives and to protect the cause of American liberty, the delegates to Congress adopted strict rules of secrecy. Less than a year after their formation, the delegates abandoned hope of reconciliation with Britain.  On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution “that these united colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states.” They appointed a Committee of Five to write an announcement explaining the reasons for independence. Thomas Jefferson, who chaired the committee, wrote the first draft.

 

The Committee of Five

The committee consisted of two New England men, John Adams of Massachusetts and Roger Sherman of Connecticut; two men from the Middle Colonies, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York; and one southerner, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. In 1823 Jefferson wrote that the other members of the committee “unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught [sic]. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams requesting their corrections. . . I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered to the Congress.

Jefferson’s account reflects three stages in the life of the Declaration: the document originally written by Jefferson; the changes to that document made by Franklin and Adams, resulting in the version that was submitted by the Committee of Five to the Congress; and the version that was eventually adopted.

By Jefferson’s own admission, the Declaration contained no original ideas, but was instead a statement of sentiments widely shared by supporters of the American Revolution. As he explained in 1825: “Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.” Jefferson’s most immediate sources were two documents written in June 1776: his own draft of the preamble of the Constitution of Virginia, and George Mason’s draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. They were, in turn, directly influenced by the 1689 English Declaration of Rights, which formally ended the reign of King James II (recall the Glorious Revolution of 1688). During the American Revolution, Jefferson and other Americans looked to the English Declaration of Rights as a model of how to end the reign of an unjust king.

 

The Path of the Declaration of Independence

On July 1, 1776, Congress reconvened. The following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. Immediately afterward, the Congress began to consider the Declaration. Adams and Franklin had made only a few changes before the Committee of Five submitted the document. The discussion in Congress resulted in some alterations and deletions, but the basic document remained Jefferson’s.  On July 1, the Declaration had been officially adopted.

On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to declare independence. On July 2, Congress declared Independence.

The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late morning of July 4.  On July 4, Congress ratified the text of the Declaration.

John Dunlap, official printer to Congress, worked through the night to set the Declaration in type and printed approximately 200 copies. These copies, known as the Dunlap Broadsides, were sent to various committees, assemblies, and commanders of the Continental troops. The Dunlap Broadsides weren’t signed, but John Hancock’s name appears in large type at the bottom. One copy crossed the Atlantic, reaching King George III months later. The official British response scolded the “misguided Americans” and “their extravagant and inadmissible Claim of Independency”.

On July 19, once all 13 colonies had signified their approval of the Declaration of Independence, Congress ordered that it be “fairly engrossed on parchment.” (To “engross” is to write in a large, clear hand.) Timothy Matlack, an assistant to the Secretary of the Congress, was most likely the penman.  On July 19, all 13 colonies approved the Declaration of Independence.

On August 2, the journal of the Continental Congress records that “The declaration of independence being engrossed and compared at the table was signed.” John Hancock, President of the Congress, signed first. The delegates then signed by state from north to south. Some signed after August 2. A few refused. George Washington was away with his troops. Ultimately, 56 delegates signed the Declaration.

The Declaration was written for the King of England, the colonists, and the world. It was intended to rally the troops, win foreign allies, and to announce the creation of a new country. The opening statement in the Declaration declared the main purpose which was to explain the right for a Revolution and “to declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” As the members of Congress in 1776 had been elected to their positions, they needed to prove their legitimacy as they defied what was the most powerful nation on earth at that time. As they were also seeking allies in support of the Revolution, the Declaration was also used to motivate allies to the cause, to join the fight.

The Declaration is a beautifully written document that officially announced that the United States were no longer part of Great Britain. That these United States were establishing a new idea of government; one whose leadership did not govern by divine right, but was chosen by the people for the people themselves. This new government’s job was to protect the “Rights” of its citizens.

 

References:

Allen Jayne, (2015). Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy, and Theology. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 48

Benson J. Lossing, (1870). Lives of the signers of the Declaration of American independence. Evans, Stoddart & Co. p. 292.

Benson J. Lossing, (1888). Our Country: A Household History for All Readers, from the Discovery of America to the Present Time, Volume 3. Appendix: Amies Publishing Company. p. 1-10.

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary EditionBelknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, P.162

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 180-182

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 200-202

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 224–225

David McCullough, (2015). 1776, Simon and Schuster

The Declaration of Independence: A History, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Dumas Malone, (1948). Jefferson the Virginian (Jefferson and His Time, Vol. 1 , Little, Brown and Company; 17th ptg. Edition, p. 221

Federalist No. 39, paragraph 2

Ian Christie and Benjamin Labaree, (1976). Empire or independence, 1760-1776: A British-American dialogue on the coming of the American RevolutionPhaidon Press; 1st Edition edition, p. 31

John Adams, (1776). “Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume: 3 January 1, 1776 – May 15, 1776”. Letter to James Warren

John M. Murrin, Paul E. Johnson, James M. McPherson, Alice Fahs, Gary Gerstle, (2013). Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People, Volume I: To 1877, Concise Edition. Cengage Learning. p. 121

Joseph Ellis, (2007). American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic, Knopf Publishing, pg. 55–56

Pauline Maier, (1998). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition, pg. 53-57

Pauline Maier, (1998). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition, pg. 125-128

Richard Kollen, (2004). Lexington: From Liberty’s Birthplace to Progressive Suburb. Arcadia Publishing. p. 27

Robert Middlekauff, (2007). The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789,  Oxford University Press; Revised, Expanded edition, pg. 241–242

Stephen E. Lucas, (1989). Justifying America: The Declaration of Independence as a Rhetorical Document, Southern Illinois University Press, p. 85

Stephen E. Lucas, (2012). The Stylistic Artistry of the Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson, (1825). TO HENRY LEE – Thomas Jefferson The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816–1826

https://www.charismanews.com/us/40100-the-christian-influence-behind-the-declaration-of-independence, accessed 9 Sep 2019

https://nccs.net/blogs/articles/biblical-roots-of-the-declaration-of-independence, accessed 9 Sep 2019

https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/declaration/bioa.htm, accessed 9 Sep 2019

http://www.ushistory.org/DECLARATION/, accessed 9 Sep 2019

http://colonialhall.com/biodoi.php, accessed 9 Sep 2019

https://www.americanheritage.com/abraham-lincoln-and-second-american-revolution, accessed 9 Sep 2019

http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/educational-resources/article-rise-and-fall-of-slave-trade-part2.shtml, accessed 9 Sep 2019

http://www.dsdi1776.com/signers-by-state/charles-carroll-of-carrollton/, accessed 9 Sep 2019

http://dansamericanrevolutionblog.blogspot.com/2012/02/biographical-sketches-of-signers-of.html, accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://www.cotknorwalk.org/blog/FoundingFathers/2005/09/george-clymer-signer-of-declaration.html, accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://www.slideshare.net/tanyaahogan/Tanya-Hogan-FFFINAL, accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://constitution.laws.com/elbridge-gerry, accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://www.revolutionary-war.net/john-hancock.html, accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://virtualology.com/StephenHopkins.com/, accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://articles.mcall.com/1984-07-15/news/2436116_1_george-taylor-iron-furnace/3, accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://www.fjc.gov/history/home.nsf/page/tu_amistad_bio_baldwin.html, accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3p458.html , accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://www.constitution.org/tp/afri.htm, accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://www.oldsaltblog.com/2011/07/joseph-hewes-first-secretary-of-the-navy-and-signer-of-the-declaration-of-independence/, accessed 10 Sep 2019

http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/john-hancock-facts-biography-history.html#lesson, accessed 10 Sep 2019

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https://tifwe.org/four-principles-of-biblical-stewardship/, accessed 10 Sep 2019

https://www.theologyofwork.org, accessed 10 Sep 2019


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Declaration of Independence – Chapter 1

King George III, labeled a tyrant for both his handling of the American colonies and his violent rebuttal of Independence, was twenty-two when he succeeded to the throne in 1760. He was a simple man with simple tastes, defying tradition by refusing to wear a  wig. He was described as remarkably tall and handsome with a cheerful expression and deep blue eyes. Records are unclear as to what transpired over the next 15 years, but by 1775, he was considered a man of strange behavior – mad King George – for which he is remembered today.
 
The King had never been a soldier nor did he ever travel to the American colonies (nor Scotland or Ireland for that matter). But, in 1775, he knew with complete certainty what needed to be done. America must be made to obey. He wrote to his Prime Minister, Lord North, that “I am certain any other conduct but compelling obedience would be ruinous”.
 
War came to America on April 19th, 1775, with the battles of Lexington and Concord – near Boston. But it was the savage brutality at Breed’s Hill and Bunker Hill in 17 June that catches most attention today. It was the battle of Bunker Hill that, by most accounts, hardened the resolve of King George. “We must persist”, he said. Bunker Hill was considered a victory by the British but they had still lost more than 1000 casualties before gaining momentum.
 
On October 26, 1775, King George spoke before his parliament: “The present situation of America is an open revolt”, he declared, and he ” denounced as traitors those who, by gross misrepresentation, labored to inflame his people in America.” He had officially declared that America was in rebellion. Yet, while colonists had been engaged in violent conflict, the American Congress had yet to take any real political action. This would happen over the course of the next 9 months.
 
As we continue our journey through the Declaration of Independence, let’s open with some questions for you to test your own knowledge on what you know, and what you don’t know, about our Declaration of Independence.
 
  1. How many people signed the Declaration of Independence?
  2. When was the Declaration ratified by Congress and when was it signed?
  3. How many grievances are listed in the Declaration?
  4. What were the issues [grievances] that led up to the point where Congress decided it was time to declare Independence?
  5. How many of the signers were born outside of the 13 colonies?
  6. Who was the youngest person to sign the Declaration?
  7. Who was the oldest person to sign the Declaration?
  8. Who was the last person that signed the Declaration?
  9. How many of the signers were ministers?
  10. What are the biblical roots of the Declaration of Independence?
  11. Was the country already at war with Britain at the time the Declaration was signed?
  12. Who was the Declaration designed for?
  13. How many members were assigned to write the Declaration? Who were they?
  14. What defines an American? The Declaration or the US Constitution?
  15. How many signers did not have formal college education?
  16. Who embossed the Declaration of Independence? (who actually penned the document you can find in the archives).
  17. Do we have unalienable or inalienable Rights?
  18. Did everyone who voted for the Declaration actually sign the document? Did everyone who signed the document vote for it?
  19. Was declaring Independence unanimous or were there also dissenters?
 
On 2 July 1776, the British would land on Staten Island New York, exponentially escalating the war. That same day the American Congress would vote to “dissolve the connection” with England.  This news would reach New York 4 days later, leading to numerous spontaneous celebrations.  Nonetheless, many at that time, recognized that the war had now entered a new stage; the lines had been drawn as never before. The eyes of all were now on this newly declared nation. It was now in the hands of the colonists to play their part in posterity, which they recognized would end either as a blessing or as a curse. All of this because of a document that only takes 10 minutes to read.
 
As we progress in this series over the next few months, we will work to answer all of these questions and more. We will also break the Declaration down into five digestible components as recommended by experts to help us fully understand what is in the document.
 
In the next Chapter, we will provide background of the Declaration that many may not be aware. What led up to it and what did it take to make it a reality?

 

References:

Allen Jayne, (2015). Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy, and Theology. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 48

Benson J. Lossing, (1870). Lives of the signers of the Declaration of American independence. Evans, Stoddart & Co. p. 292.

Benson J. Lossing, (1888). Our Country: A Household History for All Readers, from the Discovery of America to the Present Time, Volume 3. Appendix: Amies Publishing Company. p. 1-10.

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary EditionBelknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, P.162

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 180-182

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 200-202

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 224–225

David McCullough, (2015). 1776, Simon and Schuster

The Declaration of Independence: A History, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Dumas Malone, (1948). Jefferson the Virginian (Jefferson and His Time, Vol. 1 , Little, Brown and Company; 17th ptg. Edition, p. 221

Federalist No. 39, paragraph 2

Ian Christie and Benjamin Labaree, (1976). Empire or independence, 1760-1776: A British-American dialogue on the coming of the American RevolutionPhaidon Press; 1st Edition edition, p. 31

John Adams, (1776). “Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume: 3 January 1, 1776 – May 15, 1776”. Letter to James Warren

John M. Murrin, Paul E. Johnson, James M. McPherson, Alice Fahs, Gary Gerstle, (2013). Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People, Volume I: To 1877, Concise Edition. Cengage Learning. p. 121

Joseph Ellis, (2007). American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic, Knopf Publishing, pg. 55–56

Pauline Maier, (1998). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition, pg. 53-57

Pauline Maier, (1998). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition, pg. 125-128

Richard Kollen, (2004). Lexington: From Liberty’s Birthplace to Progressive Suburb. Arcadia Publishing. p. 27

Robert Middlekauff, (2007). The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789,  Oxford University Press; Revised, Expanded edition, pg. 241–242

Stephen E. Lucas, (1989). Justifying America: The Declaration of Independence as a Rhetorical Document, Southern Illinois University Press, p. 85 

Stephen E. Lucas, (2012). The Stylistic Artistry of the Declaration of Independence 

Thomas Jefferson, (1825). TO HENRY LEE – Thomas Jefferson The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816–1826

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Declaration of Independence – Intro

It is the mission of FHGH Ministries to facilitate the intersection of faith, church, and culture by helping to steward a movement for people across the nation to be encouraged and empowered to be involved and live their purpose in Faith, Honor, Glory and Hope. In support of that mission, we are kicking off a new series on the topic of the Declaration of Independence. It will likely take a few months to get through it. 

Introduction

How does the Declaration of Independence fit a topic for ministry? Why is this a subject worth covering?

 

As a Christian, the bible is our foundation, we live it, we live by it, and we swear by it. It tells us how to guarantee a position as a citizen of heaven, it sets our belief systems – it tells us why we exist. The bible also tells us what our responsibilities are, it serves as our guide as stewards, and helps to define our relationships with both people and the earth.

1 Peter 4:10. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

Genesis 1:28. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The fundamental principle of biblical stewardship is that God owns everything, we are simply managers or administrators acting on His behalf. Biblical stewardship expresses our obedience regarding the administration of everything God has placed under our control, which is all encompassing. Included in this is our responsibility to be good stewards of the nation in which we currently “dwell”. We are citizens of heaven serving as ambassadors while living [dwelling] in the nation – our residence on earth.

Psalm 24:1  The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who “dwell” in it.

Many of us are familiar with the admonition in 2 Corinthians 5:20 to be “ambassadors for Christ.” This does not mean that we are to become distracted from what the Bible has to say about our nation and what our attitude towards our national heritage should be.  The Scriptures also encourage us to study the past: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning” (Romans 15:4). When Paul wrote this, he was encouraging the reader to continue to study the Old Testament for instruction. While not necessarily applicable to new covenant discipleship, everything in the Old Testament does point to Jesus.  But, what about the nation or country that we occupy on earth? I believe that, as Christians, we must study and be aware of our national past so that we understand what makes it worth protecting, saving, and sharing.

Bill Peel from The Theology of Work Project said it best when he wrote, “Although God gives us “all things richly to enjoy,” nothing is ours. Nothing really belongs to us. God owns everything; we’re responsible for how we treat it and what we do with it. While we complain about our rights here on earth, the Bible constantly asks, What about your responsibilities? Owners have rights; stewards have responsibilities.” In combination with biblical principals as well as the written works of theological thought leaders, we, as Christians, are responsible to be good stewards of our country. The United States is unique, never has a nation like ours existed in recorded history – and this is good news. The United States was founded almost 250 years ago with the premise of our nation outlined and discussed across four separate documents: 1) the Declaration of Independence, 2) The US Constitution, 3) the Bill of Rights, and 4) the Federalist/Anti-Federalist papers.

At the forefront is the Declaration of Independence. While most attention is typically given to the US Constitution, we would not have a Constitution if not for the Declaration. The Declaration of Independence is the foundational document for our US Constitution, it is our true Birth Certificate. If we as Christians are to be biblically minded and stewards of the land in which we “dwell”, it might be a good idea to understand the document that serves as the foundation for our earthly nation – just as we do with the bible which is the cornerstone and foundational document for our faith and belief system.

Many people will read the Declaration of Independence as a general interest item, but how many have actually taken time to actually understand it? How did it come about? What does it mean?  Why? The Declaration of Independence is so imbued with a biblical worldview that it would be controversial to read it aloud in many public schools, as well as other venues, because of the current secular movement toward removing Christianity from the public square – there are strong efforts ongoing to remove anything that relates to Christian/Judeo values from our American heritage. The fingerprint of God was firmly placed on our nation during its founding. As Christians, and as stewards of our nation, we should do our part to preserve what I believe the Lord ordained.

FHGH Ministries is committed to not only discussing and sharing items of cultural relevance for Christians, but also sharing the truth of our American history, our heritage, with other Christians. Therefore, we will be kicking off a new series on the Declaration of Independence.  We will discuss and share some interesting items of trivia about the document, how the document came about (background), the biblical roots of the Declaration, how to read the document, the 27 grievances outlined in the document, and a bio of each person who signed the Declaration.

We pray that, as each iteration of the series is shared with you, that you find it not only interesting, but also enlightening. We were not experts about the Declaration of Independence before we took on this project nor will we claim to be experts about it once the project is completed. However, the research completed thus far was eye opening. This is our prayer for you. Perhaps, maybe, hopefully, you will come to a new understanding of how our nation was founded and why it is paramount that we do our part to protect it.

 

References:

Allen Jayne, (2015). Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy, and Theology. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 48

Benson J. Lossing, (1870). Lives of the signers of the Declaration of American independence. Evans, Stoddart & Co. p. 292.

Benson J. Lossing, (1888). Our Country: A Household History for All Readers, from the Discovery of America to the Present Time, Volume 3. Appendix: Amies Publishing Company. p. 1-10.

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, P.162

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 180-182

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 200-202

Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 224–225.

The Declaration of Independence: A History, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Dumas Malone, (1948). Jefferson the Virginian (Jefferson and His Time, Vol. 1 , Little, Brown and Company; 17th ptg. Edition, p. 221

Federalist No. 39, paragraph 2

Ian Christie and Benjamin Labaree, (1976). Empire or independence, 1760-1776: A British-American dialogue on the coming of the American Revolution, Phaidon Press; 1st Edition edition, p. 31

John Adams, (1776). “Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume: 3 January 1, 1776 – May 15, 1776”. Letter to James Warren

John M. Murrin, Paul E. Johnson, James M. McPherson, Alice Fahs, Gary Gerstle, (2013). Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People, Volume I: To 1877, Concise Edition. Cengage Learning. p. 121

Joseph Ellis, (2007). American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic, Knopf Publishing, pg. 55–56

Pauline Maier, (1998). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition, pg. 53-57

Pauline Maier, (1998). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition, pg. 125-128

Richard Kollen, (2004). Lexington: From Liberty’s Birthplace to Progressive Suburb. Arcadia Publishing. p. 27

Robert Middlekauff, (2007). The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789,  Oxford University Press; Revised, Expanded edition, pg. 241–242

Stephen E. Lucas, (1989). Justifying America: The Declaration of Independence as a Rhetorical Document, Southern Illinois University Press, p. 85
 
Stephen E. Lucas, (2012). The Stylistic Artistry of the Declaration of Independence
 

Thomas Jefferson, (1825). TO HENRY LEE – Thomas Jefferson The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816–1826

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https://nccs.net/blogs/articles/biblical-roots-of-the-declaration-of-independence, accessed 9 Sep 2019

https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/declaration/bioa.htm, accessed 9 Sep 2019

http://www.ushistory.org/DECLARATION/, accessed 9 Sep 2019

http://colonialhall.com/biodoi.php, accessed 9 Sep 2019

https://www.americanheritage.com/abraham-lincoln-and-second-american-revolution, accessed 9 Sep 2019

http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/educational-resources/article-rise-and-fall-of-slave-trade-part2.shtml, accessed 9 Sep 2019

http://www.dsdi1776.com/signers-by-state/charles-carroll-of-carrollton/, accessed 9 Sep 2019

http://dansamericanrevolutionblog.blogspot.com/2012/02/biographical-sketches-of-signers-of.html, accessed 10 Sep 2019

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