The colonists — the revolutionaries — did not want something new, but something old. By 1776, eighty-eight years after their Glorious Revolution, the colonists realized they would have to throw off the old form of government for something new in order to gain back those rights they realized neither Crown nor Government acknowledged they had. To King George and the men of the British Parliament, these were colonists, a class of men and women not heirs to the Glorious Revolution and most certainly not true British citizens.
The colonists engaged in a conservative revolution — a revolution not for something wholly new, but for something 88 years old. They only rebeled for “new Guards for their future security” when neither King nor Parliament would grant them what they thought they already had: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
What we find today to be so abstract — gun rights written into our constitution, prohibits on quartering soldiers, checks and balances and clear limits on power drawn up by men deeply skeptical of themselves and others with power — were not abstract notions to our founders. They were real. They were present. Most importantly, they were worth fighting for and, if need be, dying for.
More than two centuries now separate us from our founding fathers. The liberties they fought for were liberties to thrive absent the heavy hand of government. These days now most often the recitation of liberties from the people are those things they can do so long as government provides a safety net to ensure a soft landing in the event of failure.
Failure to our founders meant hanging. Would you this day pledge your life and be willing to die for your cause? Would you?
Those fifty-six men were willing to.
In the heat of July in room full of flies with no circulating air those men debated the future of the colonies. On July 2nd, by unanimous declaration, they proclaimed the colonies the united States of America, setting the date of adoption of the declaration as July 4, 1776. The unity then was one of purpose at the time, not unity as one nation. But that would come.
In even hotter August those men would go to Philadelphia to sign their names and make public the declaration of their treason.
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.
What they were prepared to lose remains to this very day our gain. We are 237 years removed from that time, but we should all pray we never remove ourselves so far from the spirit of 1776.