Thanks to the book, "Our Country's Founders-A Book of Advice For Young People," Edited with commentary by William Bennett for these important words to ponder on this 4th of July 2011:
The signers of the Declaration of Independence were men of courage. By affixing their names to that document, they risked death by hanging. And they knew it. But some of the signers bravely (or perhaps nervously) laughed in the face of danger: While writing his bold and now famous signature, John Hancock, the first to sign, reportedly said, 'There! His majesty can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head!' To encourage the other signers, Hancock would later tell them that they must all hang together. To which Benjamin Franklin quipped: 'We must all hang together, or we most assuredly will hang seperately.' In this letter, Benjamin Rush, a fellow signer of the Declaration, remembers another humorous exchange that took place at the signing. But he also recalls the 'pensive and awful silence' that filled the room as these patriots of '76 prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Dear Old Friend,
The 4th of July has been celebrated in Philadelphia in the manner I expected. The military men, and particularly one of them, ran away with all the glory of the day. Scarcely a word was said of the solicitude and labors and fears and sorrows and sleepless nights of the men who projected, proposed, defended and subscribed the Declaration of Independence. Do you recollect your memorable speech upon the day on which the vote was taken? Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe what was believed, by many, at that time to be our own death warrants? The silence and the gloom of the morning were interrupted, I well recollect, only for a moment by Colonel Harrison of Virginia, who said to Mr. Gerry at the table: 'I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead....'" (Benjamin Rush to John Adams-July 20th, 1811)
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. (Ps. 33: 12)