145H - John and Thomas

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July the 4th, 1776 was, of course, a most momentous day for every American. The delegates of the Second Continental Congress having voted to seek independence just two days earlier now came together on the 4th to declare by the written word their independence from England. Remember these words?

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

That’s what Thomas Jefferson had written. For 20 days during the month of June in 1776, he had labored to craft every word of that declaration. Now his written work sat before the committee of the whole Congress as they debated his simple, yet eloquent expressions. Remember these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal: that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights: that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I don’t believe any of those men assembled could have ever comprehended the immortality that awaited those words. For his part, Jefferson sat painfully while the delegates argued, debated and altered his words. Yet, with dignity, the Virginian said nothing. It was the aging Benjamin Franklin who sat by him and attempted to administer a bit of comfort.

But John Adams – John Adams did not sit in silence during the debates. He fought for every word of the Declaration as Jefferson had written it, every expression of its sentiments. In the end, it was accepted for the most part as Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin had proposed it. The changes made in the Declaration of Independence from Jefferson’s original “were minor and served to improve it.”

One change I think you might find worthy of note. At the end of the document, the Congress as of whole added these words:

“…with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”

Well, the Declaration went forth and was eagerly received, and out of its inspired doctrines a new nation emerged that fulfilled the Latter-day purposes of the Almighty.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams stood by the Declaration of Independence all the rest of their lives.

Jefferson’s last letter said the following:

May [the Declaration] be to the world, what I believe it will be, the signal of arousing men to burst [their] chains…and assume the blessings and security of self-government.”

Adams last words to the subject were much more direct:

“Independence forever!” He cried spiritedly.

And now this: 12:50 p.m., to the distant sound of celebratory bells pealing in the valley below, the Master of Monticello, Jefferson, departed this mortal life firm in the conviction that he would live again in another.

Far to the north in Quincy, Massachusetts, at 6:20 p.m. “A final clap of thunder…shook the house; the rain stopped and the last rays of sun of the day broke through dark low-hanging clouds, bursting forth with uncommon splendor” just as the great heart of John Adams stopped beating.

The date of passing for both of these noble warrior patriots was July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day of the Declaration of Independence. On the same jubilee day, The Pen and The Voice of Independence were called home by Almighty God. A coincidence? – Not on your life, liberty, or happiness!!!!

Glenn Rawson – June 2006
Music: Green Album, track 5 (edited) – J. Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra
Song: America the Beautiful – The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra

Paul M. Angle, By These Words [New York: Rand McNally Co., 1954] 56
David McCullough, John Adams [New York, Simon and Schuster, 2001] 134
Ibid, p. 135
See 1 Nephi 22:7 “The time cometh that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles…”
McCullough, p. 644-45
McCullough, p. 645
Ibid, p. 647