Its July 5th, the anniversary of our Grand Act of Independence has once again come and gone; but even so, I thought it would be fun to look back upon the process of getting the Declaration from idea to reality by looking at clips of the 1972 film, “1776”:
Sit Down John: Adams’ Push for Independence Falls on Deaf Ears
“Sit Down John” is the opening number in the film, and albeit in musical form, shows just how obstinate the Congress was to Adams’ propositions. The attitudes displayed toward John’s ranting and raving about Independence and Congress being useless, very accurately portrays Adams being viewed as “Obnoxious, Suspected, and Unpopular.”
The Lees of Old Virginia: Getting Richard Henry Lee to Introduce a Resolution
While the movie portrays R. H. Lee as being rather goofy and comical (he was in reality quite intellectual and serious), this song explains the importance of having someone other than Adams introduce a resolution, and the willingness of Lee and Virginia to do so. The willingness of Lee to do so started the turning of the tide in favor of Independence, and Revolution against England.
But Mr. Adams: Thomas Jefferson is chosen to write the Declaration of Independence
Besides being a song of absolute hilarity, this number show Adams’ resistance to being the one to write the Declaration, given that he correctly assumed that anything he wrote on the subject would be scrutinized, torn apart, and ravished by the other Delegates. Jefferson too was reluctant to write it, but eventually he gives in and takes pen to paper. (Though the likelihood of Franklin, Sherman, and Livingston singing “Homicide! Homicide!” is almost nonexistent).
1776 and Slavery: The Debate and Revision of Jefferson’s Declaration
The Debate in Congress over the Slavery portion of the Declaration was quite a contentious and important one, and this clip does well to show the argumentation used, as well as the history of certain individual Founders in terms of their views and actions on slavery. Just because the section was struck from the document (in order to obtain the unanimous allegiance of all the Colonies), don’t think that the Founders did not care about this issue.
The Vote: The Decision is made on whether or not to Declare Independence
When push came to shove, the vote for Independence was unanimous, 12 of the Colonies voting Yea, and New York deciding to abstain (courteously). After all the debate, all the heartache and flared tempers, setbacks and revisions (and apparently catchy musical numbers), the Colonies of the American continent were ready to depart allegiance from their motherland, and all that was left to accomplish was…
The Signing: We Pledge Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor…
Fifty-Six signers; Fifty-Six brave men who by affixing their signatures made themselves enemies of one of the world’s most powerful Kings. Fifty-Six signers who pledged everything they had to the cause of Independence, and won. Against all odds, and with the help of God, they won; and a new nation was born. 237 years later we continue to celebrate what they accomplished, and thank God they were able to do so.