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    The Declaration of Independence was approved JULY 4, 1776.

It listed abuses of King George III, age 38, such as:

"He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone...

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies...

To subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution...

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us...

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury...

For...establishing...an Arbitrary government...

For...altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments...

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny...

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions..."

33-year-old Thomas Jefferson's original rough draft of the Declaration contained a line condemning slavery:

"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself...in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither...

suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold."

A few delegates objected, and as the Declaration needed to pass unanimously and time was running short with the British invading New York, the line condemning slavery was unfortunately omitted.

John Hancock, the 39-year-old President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration first, reportedly saying "the price on my head has just doubled."

Next to sign was Secretary, Charles Thomson, age 47.

70-year-old Benjamin Franklin said:

"We must hang together or most assuredly we shall hang separately.

The Declaration referred to God:

"Laws of Nature and of Nature's God...

All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...

Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions..."

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Many of the 56 signers sacrificed their prosperity for their posterity.

Of the Signers:

17 served in the military,
11 had their homes destroyed;
5 were hunted and captured; and
9 died during the war.

27-year-old George Walton signed, and at the Battle of Savannah was wounded and captured.

Signers Edward Rutledge, age 27, Thomas Heyward, Jr., age 30, and Arthur Middleton, age 34, were made prisoners at the Siege of Charleston.

38-year-old signer Thomas Nelson had his home used as British headquarters during the siege of Yorktown. Nelson reportedly offered five guineas to the first man to hit his house.

Signer Carter Braxton, age 40, lost his fortune during the war.

42-year-old signer Thomas McKean wrote that he was "hunted like a fox by the enemy, compelled to remove my family five times in three month."

46-year-old Richard Stockton signed and was dragged from his bed at night and jailed.

50-year-old signer Lewis Morris had his home taken and used as a barracks.

50-year-old signer Abraham Clark had two sons tortured and imprisoned on the British starving ship Jersey.

More Americans died on British starving ships than died in battle during the Revolution.

53-year-old signer John Witherspoon's son, James, was killed in the Battle of Germantown.

60-year-old signer Philip Livingston lost several properties to British occupation and died before the war ended.

63-year-old signer Francis Lewis had his wife imprisoned and treated so harshly, she died shortly after her release.

65-year-old signer John Hart had his home looted and had to remain in hiding, dying before the war ended.

41-year-old John Adams wrote of the Declaration:

"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary Festival.

It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.

It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this time forward forever more."

John Adams continued:

"You will think me transported with enthusiasm but I am not.

I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.

Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means.

And that Posterity will triumph in that Days Transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not."

When 54-year-old Samuel Adams signed the Declaration, he said:

"We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come."

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