There were 56 of them. They knew the ramifications of signing their names. But, still they signed the Declaration of Independence on Aug. 2, 1776, and the rest is history.
After 12 of the 13 colonies convened the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia on Sept. 5, 1774, the delegates knew something had to be done. The British’s heavy-handed ways and "taxation without representation" had become unbearable. So 56 elected delegates from the 12 colonies met to address these grievances and petitioned King George III to redress their grievances, to no avail.
So, they returned home and led their colonies to set up and train their own militia. A Second Continental Congress convened on May 10, 1775. By this time the American Revolutionary War had already begun after the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April, 1775. On June 14 they voted to form the Continental Army from the Boston militia and chose Congressman George Washington of Virginia as their commanding general.
By the time the delegates reconvened the next year—on June 7, 1776 — skirmishes between British troops and the patriots had greatly escalated. After great debate, the delegates approved a resolution stating their Declaration of Independence on July 2. This was formally adopted on July 4, but not signed by all 56 delegates until Aug. 2.
Again, they knew the "cost" of signing the document. They were all well-educated and successful businessmen. But, they knew they could no longer live under such oppressive conditions and were willing to pay the price of freedom.
Five of them were later captured by the British and tortured. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost sons while serving in the Revolutionary Army and another two had sons captured by the British. Nine fought and died from wounds or hardships inflicted by the War.
But, they did not waver in their resolve or grow quiet in sounding the alarm. Theirs were the Voices of Freedom and Truth.
No doubt they’d been inspired by Patrick Henry, who cried "Give me liberty or give me death" when he spoke before the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775. His impassioned speech convinced his colony to commit their militia to join the Revolutionary Army.
Later on, another Freedom Fighter named John Paul Jones would be added to their list. In a sea-battle between his warship, the USS Bohomme Richard, and the British ship, the HMS Serapis, which carried 44 guns, Captain Jones was overheard to say "I’ve not yet begun to fight" when the British commander urged him to surrender.
Throughout America’s history there have always been those who, as the song says, "loved liberty more than life." Thank God for patriots like William Bradford, John Smith and Roger Williams in the early colonies who feared God and led their fellow colonists to do the same.
Thank God for spiritual leaders like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney and John Witherspoon, who boldly proclaimed God’s Word, whether in the pulpit, on the street corner or in the university classroom. Thank God for political leaders like President Abraham Lincoln, who was willing to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, setting the slaves free, on Jan. 1, 1863. Thank God for civil-rights’ activists like Martin Luther King Jr., whose speech, "I Have A Dream" in Washington D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963, calling for an end to racial discrimination, still echoes throughout our land today.
Now, as never before, in a nation that is more divided than ever, we need true Patriots of Faith to stand firm on God’s Word and sound the alarm by speaking up. It matters not whether it’s in the halls of Congress or the pulpit of a small, country church, it’s time for "The Voice of Truth and Freedom" to be heard all across our land.
It will require courage. And, it will not be without cost.
But, let us arise and join the ranks of those who’ve preceded us lest their efforts be in vain. The time is now. The need is great. Let us sound the alarm and not rest until America returns to her righteous roots. Our future depends on it. May God help us all.
To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled "Morning Manna," write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.