• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Resolved: America Ought To Be Free!

    The Drafting of the Declaration of Independence

    By the summer of 1776, Americans were already engaged in open conflict against the British Empire. The Colonies’ efforts to remedy their political grievances by appealing to King and Parliament had failed. It became clear that in order to protect its liberties, America would have to take “command of its own fortunes”, as George Washington would later put it. On June 7, 1776 Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, stood to present a resolution to the Second Continental Congress gathered at Philadelphia:

    Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

    John Adams firmly seconded Lee’s motion. It was a revolutionary resolution formally calling for American independence. Confident that the Resolution would pass, Congress appointed a committee to draft a statement announcing the reasons for and significance of American independence. This Committee of Five, as it was called, consisted of Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut.

    On July 2, 1776 the Second Continental Congress passed Lee’s Resolution of Independence. The next day, July 3, John Adams wrote his wife, Abigail:

    The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

    Adams’ prediction was correct, except for the day. From the start, July 4th has been the day on which we celebrate America’s independence; for it was on that day in 1776 that Congress adopted the language of the Declaration of Independence as drafted by the Committee of Five. The Declaration was much more than a political act; it was our statement to the world articulating the universal principles of liberty, justice, and human equality. These self-evident truths compelled America to declare its independence and provided the principles upon which the future government of the United States would be founded.

    The ideals of America’s founding are timeless ; yet, the cause of freedom is never completely won. Those Founding Fathers who voted for independence, signed the Declaration of Independence, and debated the Constitution understood that these universal principles could only be realized through the conviction, sacrifice, and perseverance of a particular people. In this sense, the American people’s quest for independence became indistinguishable from the cause of liberty.

    But this cause is contested today both domestically and internationally. Domestically, Progressives reject America’s first principles and separation of powers established by the Constitution.  Abroad, tyrants and terrorists try to extinguish Lady Liberty’s flame. American sovereignty is also increasingly threatened by international institutions that have little respect for the Rule of Law and self-government.

    In 1826, on the 50th anniversary of American Independence, an aged John Adams was asked to sum up the significance of the American Revolution and the prospects for the young United States. With his last public words, Adams replied:  “Independence forever!”

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Resolved: America Ought To Be Free!

    1. Dennis Ga. says:

      We should be confident in these truths, but with the current trend in our Capital, I do not think we can be. We must look at what has happened in the near past as well as see what has been planed for the future. We are threatened from those on the outside and by those that have been placed in office. It seems that those in electyed office have forgotten why they are there and who they work for. The blame belongs to all of us. We ahve developed an attitude of "my vote does not matter", "they will do what they want to", well it is past time that we the people stood up and made our desires plain for all to see. The members of Congress and the office of President work for us. They do not have the authority to make decisions for our every day lives, our health, our homes and families. Elected office is not a profession, just a temporary position that we the people allow them to hold. The way for us is to vote in each election and vote in huge numbers. I do not see in the Constitution that voteing is a right ubder the Constitution, it is a priviledge, as such it can be taken away by the stroke of a pen.


    2. Drew Page, IL says:

      Obama and his liberl progressives can't wait to change the name of the holiday to DEPENDENCE DAY. That's when everyone in the country will be dependent on the government for everything, just like a pet dog is totally dependent on its master.

    3. Spiritof76, NH says:

      When do we convene another convention for the expressed purpose of declaring our affirmation and loyalty to those timeless Founding Principles? The system is corrupted becaue of our indifference and greed- greed is to force others to part with their hard-earned fruits of their labors. It will not get done with another election where the parties merely change hands.

      Only a third of the people in 1776 supported the Revolutionary Wars while a third actually fought with the British. Let us never forget that because that is waht we face today. May be slightly more than a third will support dialing our federal government back to its limited powers of the Constitution today and a third will side with tyrannical unlimited governments of the likes of Nazis, Stalin, Mao and Cuba.

      We can not be free until we face our realities and act appropriately to redeem our spirit of July 4, 1776.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.