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True fate of Declaration signers

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By Jay Miller

 W

hy does America celebrate its independence on July 4? Mainly because it works.

It isn’t the day we achieved our independence. That was Nov. 3, 1783. It isn’t the date of the first battle of the Revolutionary War. That was over a year before July 4, 1776. And it isn’t the date of the last decisive battle.

We chose the day the Declaration of Independence was signed because that was a magical moment that unquestionably led to the foregone conclusion of American independence.

Or so the story goes. Actually, it was much more difficult than that. Members of the Continental Congress seriously debated whether there was much chance of winning a revolution against the crown.

The rebels had a rag tag army, not much of a Navy and no alliance with any country that could be of help.

But the decision to proceed was made and most of them signed a document pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to each other. They knew they were guilty of treason and, if captured, were likely to be hanged.

Were it not for some freelance help by European military officers such as Marquis de Lafayette, Friedrich von Steuben, Johann de Kalb and others, they would have been in serious trouble.


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