Saturday, June 23, 2007

Founder-Chic Fact or Fiction: Independence Edition

It is time, fellow Founder-Stalkers, for a new segement that we like to call "Founder-Chic Fact or Fiction." This is where we examine some of the most egregious errors of our collective memory about the events, places, and people of the founding generation.

For our first Founder-Chic Fact or Fiction let's have a little chat about Independence, shall we?

1. Fact or Fiction: we declared independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776

Verdict: FICTION. We voted to declare independence on July 2, 1776, not July 4. July 4, 1776 is the day that the Continental Congress voted to approve the Drafting Committee's (Tommy, Benji, JA, Shermy, and RL) Declaration of Independence. Declaring Independence is not the same thing as approving the document that justifies that declaration.

Americans seemingly celebrate the document rather than the event.

2. Fact or Fiction: July 4, 1776 is the day that the CC signed the Declaration of Independence

Verdict: FICTION. They did not sign the Declaration on the day that they approved it, but on August 2 after a fair copy had been made and it had been printed. Some of the dudes who signed it were not actually the ones who voted for Independence or approved the Declaration.

Fact or Fiction BONUS: Roger Sherman (CT) is the ONLY person to sign both the Declaration AND the Constitution. Why haven't you ever heard of him before, you say? Good question.

3. Fact or Fiction: while waiting for their turn to sign the Declaration supposedly Benji told the gang: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately." BenHa (a BIG fella) told Elbridge Gerry (a little fella): 'With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone."

Verdict: HARD TO TELL. This certainly did not happen on July 4, and while it could have happened on August 2, the story doesn't seem to appear anywhere until the 1840s (when BenHa's grandson ((BillyHeHa)) was kind of a big deal in national politics), so it is suspect. A good story though.

Why not check out the LOC page on the Declaration. And, why not join us in celebrating BOTH July 2 and July 4? Come on, ya know you want to.


GayProf said...

Who cares about Lee's Resolution?

Mercy O. Warren said...

apparently no one. shall we also celebrate June 7, 1776? let's! we shall call it Richard Henry Lee moves for Independence, Confederation, and Foreign Aid (ICFA) day!

we missed it this year, but expect a card or something from me next year!


GayProf said...

Come on -- TJ had way better PR. Plus he became president. What did Lee ever do? I mean, besides inventing the nation?