On June 7, 1776, the Continental Congress met at Philadelphia and received Richard Henry Lee’s resolution urging a declaration of independence from English rule. Five days later, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston were appointed to a committee to draft a declaration.
Committee members urged Jefferson to draft a document for the committee’s review; and 16 days later, the committee’s draft was read before Congress.
On July 1, 1776, Congress began debating and revising the document that it would adopt on July 4, 1776.*
As the debate began, Adams said: “Before God, I believe the hour has come. My judgement approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it. And I leave off as I began, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment. Independence now, and Independence for ever!”
Like the other Founders, Adams understood what he was doing would be considered treason by the British Empire. But he was willing to risk his life and all he owned for the cause of freedom. Should we do any less?