In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children. — Abraham Lincoln on the Signers of Declaration of Independence
It all began with the “Lee Resolution,” introduced by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, on June 7, 1776, that resolved: “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” Then a committee of five was appointed to prepare a document to explain reasons for independence. A soft-spoken and shy Thomas Jefferson was the unanimous choice to craft the wording.
Then on the second of July, 1776, fifty-six delegates voted to approve a new resolution for independence. In casting their votes they declared that they were pledging their “…Lives…Fortunes…and sacred Honor.”
The Delaware delegate, Caesar Rodney arrived last minute, and just in time for the momentous vote. Suffering from a disfiguring and agonizing facial cancer, Rodney had nevertheless ridden all night through rain and a lightning storm to add his voice to the declaration.
Two days later, on a Thursday, on a fourth of July, the delegates approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. They sent the handwritten copy to a printing press a few blocks away.
Later, on the same day, the Second Continental Congress appointed John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, to design the “Great Seal” of the new, fledgling states. In six weeks, the committee of three reported back to the Congress. They proposed that the “Great Seal” be an image of the Lord God leading the children of Israel out of the house of bondage in Egypt, into the Promised Land.
Although the Congress tabled the proposed design and another one was eventually chosen in 1782, the proposal by Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin, illustrates their firm conviction that the Lord God had guided and graciously blessed the nation’s founding.
Oh, by the way, what design was finally accepted for the Great Seal of the United States? You will see the Great Seal on the back of the dollar bill. And right there, above the all-seeing, guiding eye of Providence, you will see in Latin, the words, Annuit Cœptis “He has favored our undertakings”. Of that, the founders were sure!
Ah yes, God has blessed their “undertakings,” hasn’t He! He has abundantly blessed their struggles and sacrifices. And we are thankful! And we celebrate them today, and we celebrate all that they stood for!
God bless America! Tim Smith