Were the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence “inspired idiots?”
Inspired idiocy is when the status quo is challenged and overcome. We act on insight, flashes of intuition, bursts of creativity, and brilliant ideas that demand risk-taking.
The American Founders risked it all … their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor … forging a never-before-seen government. They changed the world. It was a stunning, transformational moment in history.
Now it’s our turn. We have a stewardship.
Benjamin Franklin was leaving Independence Hall in Philadelphia at the close of the Constitutional Convention. A woman asked, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy? Mr. Franklin replied, “A republic, madam – if you can keep it.”
If you’re an American, what can you do now for our nation?
1300 Words that Changed the World
The wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776. On July 4, the delegates voted to accept the Declaration and declare America’s independence from Great Britain.
The 1300 words of the Declaration would shake the world. Accompanied by the ringing of the Liberty Bell, the Declaration was publically read for the first time four days later, July 8, 1776, outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
The British Empire and Europe were rocked by the news. King George III, the most powerful monarch in the world at the time, was being told the thirteen American colonies were separating from the British Empire.
The king’s right to rule was supposedly granted by the divine. The colonists understood that unalienable rights (not given by man and cannot be taken away) were endowed to them by the Creator: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Government is established to secure these rights, obtaining their powers from the consent of those who are governed.
John Adams (1735-1826) had personally urged Thomas Jefferson (see Monticello) to write the Declaration of Independence. He was a member of the Continental Congress and one of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration. After serving as Vice-President with President George Washington, he would become the young nation’s second President.
July 4th: “A Great Anniversary Festival … the Day of Deliverance” (John Adams)
On July 1, 1776, John Adams spoke to the delegates from the thirteen colonies at the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia. He was sold out. He was in with all of his heart. This is the cost of freedom.
“Before God, I believe the hour has come. My judgement approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it … Independence now and independence forever.”
John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776. He was well aware of the cost and risk. Yet, these were men of vision.
“The second day of July, 1776 [wording of the Declaration of Independence approve by the Continental Congress], will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”
“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 to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the ravishing light and glory.”
Carrying the Torch
What about us? As we look over the arc of history, are we aware of what we’ve been given? We keep what we value.
- Read some early American history, especially about the Founding Principles and Values. Read about the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution (1787). There are some enjoyable reads and resources available now. Join with millions of Americans who are discovering the foundations of America.
- Pray for the nation. The cost of an un-prayed-for nation is too much to pay. Prayer (for anything) is a high-leverage activity that pays high dividends. Let’s realize that our lives fit into the larger setting of a nation.
- Prayer-borne activism. Flowing from the place of prayer, God will probably lead you to do something. It may be small. It could be large. But, we need everyone to do something. He will show you the way.