56 men signed the Declaration of Independence. What sort of men were these? 24 were judges and lawyers. 9 were farmers and plantation owners. 11 were merchants. The remaining 12? They were doctors, ministers, and politicians.
Personal note: “Politicians” were in the minority … Commonly, they are listed as the last “group.” One, as you’ll discover, served in Congress without pay.
They were all educated … “men of means” … and, all knew that signing this document put their lives … their property … their “means” … in jeopardy …
These 56 men were willing to sacrifice everything … to insure our freedom.
Please hear the story of Thomas Nelson, Jr. The Governor of Virginia. He signed it. Then, lived it. I’m not sure when we started calling certain citizens, like politicians and judges, “honorable,” or adding “The Honorable” to their titles, but … please hear the story of Virginia Governor Thomas Nelson, Jr … The Honorable Thomas Nelson, Jr.
At the end is a full list of all 56 signers. 56 men. Real men. Real brave. Real heroes. Real Americans. Real statesmen. United Statesmen.
Produced by “Clear Glass Productions.”
“I am thankful to have this time … not to look at what we’ve become … but, to look back at what we were …” Richard. Vincent. Rose.
“The price for this freedom has been high … but we have never been unwilling to pay that price … We must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women …” President Ronald Reagan
“I, Paul Harvey, do herewith bequeath unto you, something to remember.You may not be able to quote one line from the Declaration of Independence … henceforth, you’ll always be able to quote at least one line … These men … they considered liberty more important than security … they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor … and they fulfilled their pledge … they paid the price …”
How often we’ve written about our seemingly rare exposure to those great documents of United States history. And, we raise the question of, “How often do we hear our National Anthem?” “How often do we hear, or read, or say, the words of The Pledge of Allegiance?” When was the last time we read, or heard, “The Declaration of Independence?” The Preamble? Etc.
I always seem to mention sporting events, and, I must be honest, the last time I heard our National Anthem was during the broadcast of the NBA Finals. The last time I heard our Pledge was on the last day of School.
When was the last time I heard “The Declaration of Independence?” Well … I feel I have an advantage over many. Our posting of “George Washington Reads The Declaration of Independence” over on our YouTube Channel, as a tribute to the way the History Channel closed out its mini-series, “Sons of Liberty,” has gained several thousand viewers, so I am exposed to this pretty often. Plus, the posting is popular over on our Blog and Facebook networks. So, I’m “around it” a lot. At least … I thought I was …
However … However … while I have heard “The Declaration of Independence” so many times … I realize this … I haven’t heard “The Declaration of Independence” … I’ve only heard a part of it … only a part of it … It would be, like, reading the first part of a book, and, then, saying, “I’ve read the book.” The Declaration has four distinct parts, and I must admit, I am only familiar, dare I say it, with the first part … the part we all call “The Declaration of Independence.”
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence inside the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall). Four days later, on July 8, 1776, the citizens of Philadelphia were summoned to the State House Yard by the bells of the city. At noon, Colonel John Nixon publicly read the Declaration of Independence for the first time.
On July 4th, 1957, U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy read, and recorded “The Declaration of Independence.” It was the entire text, not just “the opening” which was read.
The previous summer, in 1956, At the Democratic National Convention, Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver edged John F. Kennedy to become Adlai Stevenson’s running mate.
Just 5 years earlier, in November, 1952, John F. Kennedy had defeated Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. to win election to the United States Senate. In the presidential election, Dwight Eisenhower and his running mate, Richard Nixon, had defeated Adlai Stevenson.
In a little over four months after this recording, on November 27, 1957, Caroline Bouvier Kennedy was born.
I discovered this video several months ago, and have waited until now to share it. The credits for the source are contained within. I have also added the link to The National Archives & Records Administration.
I was working on a post involving our Nation Anthem … when I viewed the presentation of “The Declaration of Independence” as part of this year’s Super Bowl pre-game (I joined in at 5:45). I had honestly forgotten that this has become an annual presentation of the reading of the Declaration of Independence, regardless of the network broadcasting the game.
It got me to thinking … as I would hope each time we read or hear those words, we get to thinking … But, what I thought about was this: How often, as Americans, do we actually see, hear, or read the Declaration of Independence? My thoughts on the National Anthem were leaning toward the same question: As Americans … if not for sporting events … how often do we hear the National Anthem? While we’ll cover that next time, I am trying to remember when was the last time I read or heard the Declaration of Independence? Last Super Bowl? Honestly? Probably.
I can remember, growing up, in school, we always had to memorize the Declaration (or at least parts of it), the Preamble to the Constitution … and, the Gettysburg address, for example. What about now? As a teacher, I should know the answer, but I’m not thinking as locally here as nationally. How often, as we enjoy the benefits of the ideals these great documents represent, are we exposed to the words of those documents?
Many of our Government buildings still have framed displays of these great documents, but how often do I just stop, take a moment, and read them?
In my research, trying to find a definitive answer to the question of “How often is the Declaration of Independence read?” I came across this story from July 02, 2010, written by Jane Hampton Cook, and featured on FoxNews.com. The story was entitled “Why Everyone Should Read the Declaration of Independence.” I am quoting especially the part of the story which details how “by chance” the “Original” Declaration of Independence was spared from destruction in a fire at the US Patent Office … Enjoy the story, and the special video presentation:
For 35 years the Patent Office in Washington, D.C. displayed the official signed copy of the Declaration of Independence for all to see … As a special present to the nation, the declaration returned to its birthplace, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, for ongoing celebrations of its 100th birthday in 1876. It then moved to the State Department Library in early 1877. Within months, the Patent Office burned. Had the declaration been returned to its usual spot, the nation’s first treasure would have been lost forever — a close call and warning to preserve it as tightly as a mother protects an infant.
By modern standards, they were really reckless with the declaration in its early days. At first it was frequently unrolled and then rolled up again, weakening the paper. At the Patent Office, a nearby window exposed its already rapidly deteriorating ink to sunlight. Today the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and all four pages of the U.S. Constitution are carefully displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. They reside in $4 million aluminum and titanium fireproof containers. The fragile parchments do not touch the glass, and their airtight cases are filled with a non-leaky preserving gas. The treasures enjoy a steady climate controlled temperature of 67 degrees.
The principles behind independence haven’t changed … Our founder’s belief that rights came from a Creator — hasn’t changed. The principle of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness still screams the “American dream” as much as it did in 1776 … Failure to read and appreciate the Declaration of Independence today is a failure to understand who we are as Americans.
The best way to preserve independence — not simply the document but what it means — is to pass its principles to the next generation. We must read the declaration for ourselves and to our children.
And because this national treasure wasn’t burned in a fire in 1877, it’s available for all to see in person by visiting the National Archives in our nation’s capital.