On these hot stuffy days in June and now July I think of what it must have been like during those days in Philadelphia in 1776 with no air conditioning and even closed windows and closed doors for fear that someone might be spying on them to report to the British government troops and the king of England what they were doing. The colonies had already selected George Washington to be the general of the colonies army and they had several skirmishes against the British army. The battles of Lexington and Concord and of Bunker Hill had already been fought in New England, Ticonderoga and Crown Point had been wrested from the British under Washington’s leadership as chief of the army. There was even a threat to kidnap George Washington’s wife, Martha, whose nickname was Patsy.
To add to the discomfort of the men in that room were the clothes they wore at that time being mostly of wool. They were delegates from the thirteen colonies who had different opinions about the Declaration of Independence from England. A few years before this the young George Washington had fought side by side with the British troops against the French and Indians. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and South Carolina had already set up independent colonial governments. Other states were more reluctant to cut off ties with “the mother country.” So can you imagine the heated debates going on in that hot room?
By June 7, 1776, they took a vote that said, “these United Colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and independent States.” A committee was appointed to prepare the final Declaration. The Congress met July 1 behind closed doors to debate the draft and formally adopted it on the third of July, ready for signatures on the fourth and published to the public. And the famous Liberty Bell in Independence Hall was rung. This then was the birth of the new nation.
Two hundred forty years ago elected leaders met in committees, debated and made decisions. But they did not have the TV news every day to broadcast the heated debates like we have today. Just like today not everyone agreed but they finally came up with an important document to guide the new nation. Can we come up with the right leadership this election year?