Monday, July 03, 2006

American Democracy - 230 yrs Young!

It's the eve of our nation's birthday. Waaaaaaaaay back in 1776, on July 4th, in a sweaty and steamy hall in Philadelphia, the bravest of the brave stepped up and put their names on the Declaration of Independence. America went from colony to a breakaway republic! Think about it.

The second paragraph of this amazing document is worth re-reading.

"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."


At the time the British Empire spanned the globe and was only growing more powerful. Yet this group of 13 colonies dared to say... wait a minute, we need to be in control of our own destiny - and while we're at it - we have a few ideas on how to run a country. The Declaration of Independence was born... which begat the American Constitution.

And fast forward a couple hundred years to where we are today. If you haven't looked into the Declaration or Independence or the US Constitution since your High School days... well, you might want to dive in there and see what all the fuss is about. Genius, pure genius that continues to astound the best legal minds of our times.

So who were these men? We all know John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and John Adams... but what about the others? As a tribute to all of the signers, I list there names and the colonies they represented.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:

New Hampshire - Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts -John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island - Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut - Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York - William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey - Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania - Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware - Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland - Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia - George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina - William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina - Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia - Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


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