Declaring with the Declarition

 Several years ago, I asked a Mexican-American about Cinco de Mayo. He told me it was a day that Mexicans had parties. When I asked why they partied, he did not know it was a yearly celebration to remember Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War. While most Americans know that July 4 is the anniversary of our Declaration of Independence, the gravities of the occasion are slipping away.


On June 28, 1776, the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Second Continental Congress. The Declaration of Independence was written by the “Committee of Five,” which consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. Jefferson was the primary author, and Adams was its most vocal proponent. The document stated the principles for which the colonies separated from Great Britain. Less than a week later, Congress officially adopted the Declaration on July 4, 1776. It was later signed on August 2, 1776.


I used to think that Americans grew tired of paying taxes to the King and decided to start their nation. Unjust taxation is the seventeenth grievance of the twenty-seven listed in the Declaration of Independence. I thought that a radical group of men went to a tavern somewhere in New England, drank a few rounds of beer, and decided enough was enough. Not so. Those men we call “Founders and Framers” of our country were devout Christian men influenced by the Great Awakening. Many of them were relatively young men at the time of the Declaration and had been influenced by some of the great Pastors of their youth. Those clergymen had searched the scriptures and determined that unjust, tyrannical government was not from God and it was the duty of God-fearing men to resist despotism.


The Massachusetts Provincial Congress agreed with John Hancock, concurring in late 1774 when he said, “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.” As a result, the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence did so with a “firm reliance on Providence” as they put their “lives fortunes, and sacred honor” on the king’s chopping block.


Congress approved the Declaration on July 4, 1776. On July 8, 1776, a 2,000-pound copper-and-tin bell, now known as the Liberty Bell, rang out from the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) tower in Philadelphia, summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon. The Bell still contains the inscription, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof (Leviticus 25:10),” which went unnoticed during the Revolutionary War. By the 19th century, it became a rallying cry for abolitionists, who first referred to the bell as the “Liberty Bell” in 1835. That name was widely adopted later.


On July 21, 1776, Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John, with this report:

Last Thursday, after hearing a very good Sermon, I went with the Multitude into Kings Street to hear the proclamation for independence read and proclaimed…When Col. Crafts read from the Balcony of the State House the Proclamation, great attention was given to every word. As soon as he ended, the cry from the Balcony was God Save Our American States….


John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, and Congressional Secretary, Charles Thomson, signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Most of the rest signed it on August 2, 1776. When Hancock was the first to sign and purportedly said, “The price on my head just doubled.”


Signing this Declaration of Independence was an act of treason. You know that the end of traitors is death if they are unsuccessful in their insurrections. While we celebrate on this side of July 4, 1776, those men solemnly signed the document in silence, knowing they could die for inscribing their names. Some say that Benjamin Franklin tried to break the tension by saying, “We must hang together, or most assuredly, we will hang separately.”


In contemplating the effect that separation from England would have on him personally, John Adams wrote:

If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready, at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may. But while I do live, let me have a country, and that, a free country!


Two days before Congress officially approved the Declaration, John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 2, 1776:

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. 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.”


When Samuel Adams signed the Declaration, he stated, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven, and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.”


I hope you see that Independence Day is more significant than we usually remember. The Declaration was the culmination of years of abuse by the King of England and the determination to take back God-given, unalienable rights that had been unlawfully and unscripturally stripped from Americans. The Declaration was not only a political document, but it was also a spiritual one as it slapped the Head of the English Church in the face with:

“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. . .”


I get a little misty when I think of the courage and sacrifices of our forefathers as they knowingly laid down their lives for their posterity – us! I am ashamed to see how far we have drifted from their intentions for our nation. Remembering their boldness and fortitude also stirs mine. I hope this little nostalgia keeps you on task regarding the tyranny before us today. It is our 1776!


Let’s Keep The Light of Declaring Independence from Oppression Burning!                          405.361.3123