Hopefully there will be some time between the picnic and fireworks to give some thought on how this country got started. It is easy to look back on history and assume that things worked out as they were supposed to. Nothing could be farther that the truth. The idea of independence rested on three miracles.
They were going to try to create a democracy in a world ruled by kings and despots. There were few examples for them to go on. Even if they got a democracy, it would be hard to keep it going. Look at what happened to France.
The idea that a ragtag army of farmers, clerks and laborers could beat the most powerful military in the world seemed impossible. The central government that would prosecute the war consisted of the Continental Congress and a few clerks. They didn’t even have the power to tax. At times they had unbelievable luck. After a disastrous battle in New York, a north wind kept the English navy from finishing off our army and fog let them escape. It also seems incredible that our army along with the French army and navy could converge on a peninsula where Cornwallis foolishly stationed his troops.
At the beginning of 1776, relatively few were in favor of independence. Thomas Payne wrote a pamphlet called Common Sense. It argued for forming a new country. It took the nation by storm. Then John Adams took charge. The vote had to be unanimous. One by one he convinced each colony to go along. A resolution was introduced. Congress went into recess while a committee was formed to write a declaration. Adams was the natural choice but he assigned it to Thomas Jefferson. His reasons were his unpopularity, the need for a Virginian to do it and Jefferson was ten times the writer. The resolution passed on July 2, 1776. Jefferson’s masterpiece was approved two days later.
Quite a story isn’t it?