The place – Philadelphia. It was hot and humid.
The date – July 4th, 1776.
The Second Continental Congress was meeting and what they were about to decide was historic.
When the Second Continental Congress met, there was great debate about declaring independence. Most of the colonists wanted independence, but there was still a large percentage of the people who wanted to remain British. After all, they had the protection of the British Army, the most powerful army in the world, and most of their ancestors were still of English descent.
The Congress was also undecided – but the actions of King George had brought them to this crossroad to concede to the kings demands or to fight. The colonists had been subjected to excessive taxes; further, King George had stationed a standing army in the colonies. Through all of this, the colonists had no say or representation before the king – in simple words – they felt bullied.
To protest these excessive taxes, colonists organized a widespread boycott of British goods. Tensions grew as more troops were sent to Boston in New York City. This made the people furious. Then on March 5th, 1770, as Boston civilians challenged a group of soldiers, the soldiers fired – and five were dead. This came to be called the Boston Massacre. As word of this event spread, the people became more scared and angrier – but King George persisted – he was determined to bring them in line. He closed the port of Boston, restricted trade, and forced the people to house and feed the British soldiers with no compensation. This seemed to be the last straw.
On September 4th, 1774 delegates from 12 colonies met for the first Continental Congress. They wanted a peaceful settlement with King George, but when they brought their request to him, his response was simply this – the colonists either submit to British rule or be crushed by the British Army – the colonists refused. In a tactical move to disarm the colonies on April, 19th 1775, British armies tried to take the military supplies of the Massachusetts militia – and without a formal army or a call to arms, the people bravely took up their guns and turned back the British army.
So, on this day, July 4th, 1776, as the delegates wiped the sweat from their brows, they had much to consider. If they declared independence, could they stand up against the mighty power of the British Empire? Speeches and debates continued until finally, there weren’t enough votes to pass the Declaration of Independence. Even though they didn’t sign that document until weeks later, each delegate realized that signing would be at their own risk and that it could lead to imprisonment or death, as they would be branded by the king as outlaws and a bounty would be placed on their heads.
But one of the signers, Charles Carroll, when asked if anyone would know just who he was, decided not only to sign his name, but the town in which he lived. You see, these men were dedicated and determined to stand up regardless of the consequences. They were willing to give their lives for the very ideals and principles which we now take for granted.
Today, as we celebrate our independence, let us not forget the sacrifice – the great sacrifice – that was made for our America. Let us stand up, speak out; but also let us spend much time on our knees, praying that Almighty God will not give up on us.
Have a wonderful Independence Day, and don’t forget to fly your flag.