Today’s the Day in the Painting: July 2nd

“Declaration of Independence”, by John Trumbull (1819), depicting the presentation of the Declaration
by the committee to the 2nd Continental Congress on July 2, 1776–two days before it was ratified and signed. Credit.

Today’s the day in the painting—the 2nd of July, when the committee of five presented their work to the 2nd Continental Congress for its approval. It would be two days before the
Congress would vote to approve the Declaration of Independence. Fifty-six men would sign it, sealing the country’s fate at the cost of inevitable war.

These men were not perfect. Nor was their conception of freedom (and neither is ours!). But what they did was to take a stand on their own watch, against what they knew was not right. They had a spirit of proactivity that is not in play in the America of today.

My wife, Kay, commonly observes how popularly we admire these men and their compatriots for their radical patriotism, even as we ourselves would never do anything so radical in the cause of freedom and justice, and even tend to hinder and discourage those who would.

Again, these men were not perfect—and surely we can find fault with them, just as any motivated fault-finder could find with us. Yet they took a stand against tyranny that is far greater than any stand our own generation is willing to take. And the great irony is that the tyranny we face today is many times worse than what they were facing!

They were willing to decouple from the system to which they were accustomed, in order to build something they thought was better. And they got it done, imperfect as it was.

The Committee of Five. From left to right: John Adams, Roger Sherman,
Robert Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin

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