leopard print ugg boots Some common myths about July 4
The actual Declaration of Independence was a resolution introduced in the Second Continental Congress by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, and approved by the Congress on July 2. It was the culmination of many months of debate, and grounds for treason.
The document that is popularly known as the Declaration of Independence was approved July 4 as an explanation of why independence had been declared two days earlier. More properly, it was a public relations document appealing to “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind” as to why the members of Congress should not be hanged.
In fact, a committee of five, including John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert Livingston of New York, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, had been working on the document for three weeks. Much of the drafting had been turned over to Jefferson, since he had a reputation as a facile man with a pen, but the committee was not about to accept his draft uncritically.
Jefferson complained that 25 percent of his words had been cut out, especially the abstract stuff at the beginning.
Robert Livingston, always a cranky fellow even in his later political and diplomatic career, was the only member of the committee who refused to sign the document. He said it was premature.
The document is strictly in the ancient legal form of a Petition of Right. It was a familiar form, dating back to Magna Carta, and in the mode of the Petition of Right of 1628 sent to Charles I.
Traditionally, such petitions demanded no new rights, but that existing rights be repaired. So it is with the July 4 Declaration. After the ruffles and flourishes of the preamble, the vast bulk of the document, which is generally ignored by modern readers, is nothing more than citations of breaches of common law and the British (unwritten) constitution. Jefferson may have included a whiff of John Locke in a sentence or two, and leaned heavily on George Mason, but the fundamental argument of the July 4 document is that King George III had usurped the rights of Englishmen in the colonies and the only way to restore British law was to separate from the tyrant.
So Jefferson’s noble language, that still thrills us today, was a great propaganda stunt, but the real stuff is the detailed count after count of the royal breech of law.
Hot Air: The document that is popularly known as the Declaration of Independence was approved July 4 as an explanation of why independence had been declared two days earlier
Many lovers of the elegant writing of the preamble clauses will be surprised to learn that they do not constitute a substantive part of the document. For centuries, it has been the standard rule of legal interpretation that preambles are just that: They go before the real thing. They don’t have any operating effect.
Even today, leaders in Congress will try to placate opponents of bills by agreeing to put gauzy language in the preamble, because they know it doesn’t change the result. Sometimes the opponents agree with this scheme because they are taken in. At other times they agree to it because they will be able to report to their constituents that they got the language changed, even though the change has no impact on implementation.
In this case, the signers of the Declaration were saying that the King was the radical. The colonists claimed to be restoring the ancient order. There were no revolutionary views on exhibit in the July 4 document.
In 1774, when Jefferson was elected to Congress he prepared a paper called Instructions to the Delegates in which he laid out his views on the conflict between Great Britain and the colonies. It was immediately reprinted throughout the land and in Great Britain, where Edmund Burke had a hand in bringing it to press. The tenor of his argument can be seen in the new printed title: Summary View of the Rights of British America.
In Jefferson’s Autobiography he stated specifically his goal:
“Being elected .. for my own county, I prepared a draught of instructions to be given to the delegates whom we should send to the Congress, and which I meant to propose at our meeting.”
“In this I took the ground which, from the beginning I had thought the only one orthodox or tenable, which was that the relation between Gr. Br. It gives context to the oft quoted line that “all Men are created equal.” Was he here echoing some abstract pronouncement that all men should be reduced in station and achievement to a common level? Or was he merely repeating the argument of his Summary View that the rights of British gentlemen in the colonies were equal to the rights of British gentlemen home in England?
The revisionist historians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries found the former interpretation more consistent with their own ideology. It is more probable that the delegates to the Second Continental Congress agreed with Jefferson.
The July 4 document became an important element in the belief of Americans that there was something special about the founding narrative of the United States. Code of Laws.
The United States was actually formed on March 1, 1781, with the adoption of the Articles of Confederation, which provided for a President but specified no duties.
One of the many weaknesses of the Articles was that the presidency was limited to one year.
Even so, not all the incumbents were able to fulfill their whole terms. The first President of the United States was Samuel Huntington, who fell ill after four months and had to resign.