Saturday, June 30, 2012

Obnoxious, Suspected and Unpopular

By Julie Rahm               
The Second Continental Congress convened on May 10, 1776 in Philadelphia. The members formed three committees. The first committee was to write the Articles of Confederation. These articles were to structure how the States were going to be organized once independence from Great Brittan was achieved.
The second committee formed was intended to draft a treaty proposal with France. Members realized George Washington’s Continental Army could not defeat the British without the help of France. Know your history? Yes, were it not for the French, our country would not exist.
The third committee formed was one intended to draft the Declaration of Independence. There were five members on this committee. They were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. Jefferson was the chairman of the committee since he got the most votes. John Adams got the second most votes.
Committee member Roger Sherman represented the great state of Connecticut. He was a cobbler by trade and repaired shoes! Sherman was an avid reader. His political career started when he was elected as a Justice of the Peace. Roger Sherman signature is on the four most import documents ever written. He signed the Continental Association of 1774, The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Federal Constitution. Jefferson said of Sherman, “He never said a foolish thing in his life.” That is quite a compliment from Jefferson. Connecticut residents can be proud that Sherman is one of their own. (Roger Sherman also had fifteen children!)
Robert Livingston represented the great state of New York. He was educated at the King’s College now Columbia University. He was a lawyer who became politically active during the Stamp Act Revolt. He was a member of the Sons of Liberty and was the first Secretary of State. He also negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with France. Interestingly, Livingston never signed the Declaration of Independence. Although he worked on the document, he had returned to New York on government business when the official signing took place. Livingston was chosen to administer the oath of office to our first president George Washington; not an accidental choice and a huge honor.
The other three committee members: Jefferson, Franklin and Adams are well known. What is largely unknown is that Jefferson, at first, refused to write the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson and Adams argued. Neither man wanted to write the document. Adams, from Massachusetts, argued, “A Virginian should be at the head of this business. You can write ten times better than I.” And lastly Adams confessed, “I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular, you are otherwise.” Thankfully, Jefferson lost the argument, conceded and wrote the first drafts of the Declaration. Jefferson’s words set the framework for the country we have today. Had Jefferson won the argument and Adams, a Federalist, wrote the Declaration, our county would be very different today. Now you know! Enjoy your Independence Day and be thankful to those who made it possible.
And then, visit to learn about life through the eyes of kids in military families!

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