In the State House in Philadelphia, America was being born (234 years ago).
On Monday, July 1, 1776, John Adams made the case for independence. Now is the time, the facts are inescapable, the people are for it, we are not so much declaring as acknowledging reality. "We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world." After nine hours of debate, the voting commenced. The yeses held a majority, but there were more noes than expected. Someone moved a final vote be taken the next morning. Everyone hastily agreed. That night word reached Philadelphia that the British fleet, numbering over a hundred ships, had been sighted off New York harbor.
On July 2, the final voting began. It went quickly. This was a pivotal moment in the political history of man. The vote was completed: 12 for independence, New York abstaining, no one opposing. The break was made, in words at least: on July 2, 1776, in Philadelphia, the American colonies declared independence. If not all 13 clocks had struck as one, twelve had, and with the others silent the effect was the same.
On July 3, Congress argued over the wording and exact content of the formal Declaration. An indictment of the slave trade was dropped. In all, Thomas Jefferson saw roughly 25% of what he'd written wind up on the floor.
On July 4, discussion ended, debate was closed, a vote on the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was called, and the results were as on July 2. Congress ordered the document be printed. They'd sign it in a month. For now, John Hancock and one other, Charles Thompson, fixed their signatures.
"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 separate.
"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 ... "
In the end, the Continental Congress would not produce only an act of the most enormous human and political significance, the creation of America, it would provide history with one of the few instances in which a work of true literary genius was produced, in essence, by committee. The writing of the King James Bible is another. [more]