Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 4, 1976 · Page 33
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 33

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 4, 1976
Page 33
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Page 33 article text (OCR)

It wot time, nl last, for Americana to decide. But would those representatives in the State House in Philadelphia ever make up their mtndt? Here, excerpted from the book, "76: 77u JTor/d Turned ( : pside Down," are the dramatic moments when independence was born. Nation's Birth Came Hard / · ' o In Irresolution By Sid Moody The Associated Press As summer unfolded up the Atlantic Coast, America agonized over independence like a gestating whale. The birth of a nation would not come easily. The moment of procreation was various. If the rebellion 'was philosophical, it .might have started when James Otis in 1761 rose to quote natural law against the writs of assistance. If it was purely military, it might have Proper Railroad Dressing By L. T. Anderson ';. The Freedom Train "engineer," a ·i sometime stockbroker, was shown in two I newspaper photographs as he stood in I front of the big Reading steam locomo- ? live. .; In one picture, he wore plain blue bib i: overalls with an open collared shirt and a ,, baseball-type cap. In the other, he had :·' added'a red bandanna, loosely knotted . around his neck. i- As an observer of the habits and conduct j\ of steam locomotive enginemen, I am pre;' pared to provide the Freedom Train man ?! some valuable tips on authentic dress of · the steam era, starting with the bandanna. ; Enginemen didn't loosely tie their ban- ; danna handkerchiefs around their necks, ':. like John Wayne. Their wives carefully i affixed them with safety pins. The point wasn't to achieve a raffish look but to keep ;' cinders from under the shirt. t · »· [.. ON CO RAILWAY divisions East i; . and West of Hinton, where my wife and I r grew up in railroading families, the blue bandanna was a heavy favorite. I cannot remember ever seeing a red bandanna : around the neck of an engineman. · ' Steam locomotive enginemen were particular about their overalls, which had to be blue-and-white striped rather than the plain blue sometimes worn by trainmen · and shop workers. Enginemen wore matching blue-and-white jackets, almost always tucked inside the overalls. They wore the jackets in winter and summer. Their high caps were blue-and-white striped, too, although a few polka-dot caps had begun to show up shortly before the diesels finally replaced the steam engines. 'Wives, who didn't complain of an inferior status, washed and starched this uniform, blocking the caps over coffee cans. The goodby ritual at my home began with my mother pinning the bandanna around my father's neck and included the removal of the cap from the coffee can just prior to the noisy kiss and the pat on my mother's rear end (I am the product of an intact · home.) " i ^ THE GRIP WAS as much a part of the uniform as the bandanna. A grip is a valise. Trainmen, as often as not, carried ..large wicker baskets. Enginemen always carried grips, which held, among other things, the "waste," or the oily mass of threads which had a multitude of uses. The grip also held a lunch. My wife and I sometimes recall the delicious taste of leftover ham sandwiches flavored with pepper, coal dust and oil. Railroaders often contrived to bring home part of their lunches as a treat for children. In the days of steam, enginemen in striped overalls, carrying grips, and trainmen in their peculiar garb, or wearing passenger train uniforms, could be seen on the sidewalks of Hinton at all hours of night or day as they walked between their homes and the yard office. Going out, the enginemen were starched and clean. Coming in, their overalls and their faces were stained with oily coal dust. Some enginemen, for reasons I could never comprehend, wore regular neckties with their chambray shirts, under their bandannas. Almost all the men who manned the engines and trains were neat and conservative dressers when off duty, being careful to wear suits and hats when they walked downtown. An "old time" picture of members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, published recently . in the Hinton Daily New showed grave- faced and well-dressed men who could have been taken f$ bankers, which some :.* of them had monewiough to be. begun when Americans in several colonies began stealing His Majesty's powder. If it was economic surely a decisive date was April 6,1776, when Congress declared American ports open to the shipping of all nations. If it was defiance, then the tea at Boston. If it was political, a declaration of independence would confirm it. ». BY JULY, 1776, it had been months since Tom Paine's "Common Sense" had swept across the Colonies, months since George III had declared the Colonies in "open and avowed rebellion, and more than a year since Lexington and Concord. But, as the summer heat came to Philadelphia, the Continental Congress still could not bring itself to take that irreversible step. Irresolution had stamped the Second Continental Congress since it convened in May 1775. On July 5 it approved the Olive Branch Petition which appealed directly to George III against Parliament. The very next day the delegates voted for a Declaration of Causes for Taking-Up Arms, written by young Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson, which said: "Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great . . . being with one mind to die Freemen rather then live like Slaves." The King refused to receive the Petition and instead called on Parliament to put "a speedy end to these disorders by the most decisive exertions." On Nov. 16, it was proposed that Britain abandon the thought of taxing the Colonies and negotiate with Congress. The House of Commons rejected the plan 210 to 105. Instead, on Dec. 22, 1775, it voted for the Prohibitory Act which withdrew the King's protection from America. By that time all the Colonies but Georgia and Pennsylvania had provisional governments of one sort or another, taking their authority from nowhere, giving allegiance still to the King and looked to Congress for guidance. Even though the British had burned Falmouth (now Portland), Maine, in October, Congress two months later still could declare:, "Allegiance to our King? Our words have ever avowed it--our conduct has even been consistent with it." But news of the Prohibitory Act reached Philadelphia Feb. 27, 1776, along with reports that the Hessians were coming. This stunned the moderates, as the realization dawned that they were engaged in more than a family feud. "Nothing is left now but to fight it out," said Joseph Hewes of North Carolina. The only disagreement as to a declaration of independence was its timing. SOME DELEGATES still believed Congress should first listen to the peace commissioners they thought were on the way. John Adams dismissed the rumor as an "airy phantom . . . a messiah that will never come, as errant an illusion as ever was hatched in the brain of an enthusiast, a politician or a maniac." In Virginia, the colonial assembly that had replaced the House of Burgesses voted May 15 to instruct its delegates in Philadelphia "to declare the United Colonies free and independent states, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain." On June 7 Richard Henry Lee of Virginia rose in Congress to speak. He presented a resolution that began: "That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states..." There it was. The delegates,argued to 7 o'clock that evening and for three more days with the majority contending Congress had no such authority. The fourth day there was a shift, and Hewes, buffeted by Adams and by letters from home, said: "It is done. It is done, and I will abide by it." Lee's resolution passed, but by a motion of John Rutledge a decision was postponed until the first of July. Jefferson got the highest number of votes to serve on the committee to draft a declaration. Adams got one vote less. Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert Livingston of New York were also chosen. Jefferson proposed Adams do the drafting. "Oh, no," said Adams. "Why will you not? You ought to do it." "I will not." "Why?" "Reason enough . . . Reason first: You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second: I am obnoxious, suspected and ' unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third: You-can write 10 times better than I can." JEFFERSON GAVE IN. Now that it had come to a matter of quill and paper Adams had time to be forebearing. "Be silent and patient," he wrote his friends Jam$Dana, "and time will bring fourth, A ttJU*^ JL 0F AMERICA u /at A / // ijtJk rfuL touun A t WBTED STATES ' ^ d /n*- eo/r^R /fa, MM I i/Kc^A- t-r»»fve^ r hjJUrtU ikstAAMJ *#*- t _j(Ji V it "" T r-^ This Is Part of Tfibmas Jefferson's Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence Editing by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams Shows Clearly in This Facsimile Reproduction after the usual groans, throes and pains upon such occasions, a fine child . . . God bless him and make him a great, wise, virtuous, pious, rich and powerful Man!" Jefferson retired with a portable writing desk he had designed to the second floor parlor of the suite he had rented in the home of a young German bricklayer named Jacob Graff. Turning "neither to book nor to pamphlet," he began writing. Thomas Jefferson was perhaps the most remarkable of the remarkable band of Virginians. He was a man of the mind--using refined techniques, historians estimate his I.Q. at 150, the same as Galileo and Michaelangelo. He had gone into the law because he did not favor running his tobacco plantations and thought a legal life would stretch his intellect and permit him to observe society while also serving it. He was only 33, the son of a local magistrate, surveyor and chief military officer of Albermarle County up from the Tidewater. His father had married into the wealthy Randolph family and had left 7,500 acres and numerous slaves to his son when he died. Jefferson was a scholarly boy; "games played with balls . . . stamp no character on the mind," he said. He was elected to the Burgesses in 1769 but had a high voice and occasionally stammered. He was no orator such as Patrick Henry. Jefferson had one of the largest libraries in the Colonies-1,200 books--played the voilin up to three hours daily, dipped his feet in cold water each morning to avert agues and was forever taking the temperature. IN TWO WEEKS the young scholar presented his efforts to Franklin for approval. Franklin settled into an armchair, put his gouty foot on a stool and a blanket over his. lap, donned his bifocals and began reading. "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable ..." Franklin thought "self- evident" a better choice. Jefferson agreed. The older man made a few other changes, then said: "I wish I had written it myself." In old age Jefferson said his purpose had been "not to find out new principles or new arguments . . . but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent... Neither aiming at originality ... nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind ' Jefferson's work was approved by the committee and presented to Congress July 1 as a thunderstorm swept over the State House protected with Dr. Franklin's new lightning rods. John Dickinson rose to speak: "Declaring our independence at a time like this is like burning down our house before we have another; in the middle of winter; with a small family; then asking a neighbor to take us in, and finding that he is unready." "Enough, prudent petitioner," John Adams had said in exasperation over Dickinson's irresolution. "I can see right down to the bottom of your timid heart. Your mother has warned you sternly too many times: 'Johnny, be careful. Your estate will be taken and you're bound to be hang'd." "Right now I call any declaration for independence a blind, percipitous measure: " Rutledge chimed in. Some of the 40 delegates present--more than half lawyers and most of them British-trained-brought up the peace commissioners. Roger Sherman, a 55-year-old Bible-reading Puritan from Connecticut who had taught himself law and mathematics while cobbling shoes, retorted: "I'm more afraid of the commissioners than of their generals and armies. If their propositions are at all plausible, I am afraid they will divide us. There is too much division among us already." "And too much delay," added Josiah Bartlett, a tall physician from New Hampshire. WHO WOULD answer Dickinson? Eyes turned to John Adams. Richard Stockton of New Jersey wrote his son afterwards that Adams was "the man to whom the country is most indebted . . . I call him the Atlas of American independence. He it was who sustained the debate, and by the force of his reasoning demon- Sunda'v Gazette-Mail c urrent A ffairs ' Charleston, Weal Virginia ID -July 4, 1976 strated not only the justice but the expe-, diency of the measure." Adams, who had spoken so much, looked towards his cousin. Sam Adams was too agitated. Sherman felt unequal to the occasion. Rutledge stepped up the unloved but admired lawyer: "You're the one who has all the arguments, Mr. Adams. We're waiting." Adams finally rose. "Why put off the Declaration? If we fail, it cannot be worse for us. But we shall not f a i l . . . For ray- self, I can only say this. 1 have crossed the Rubicon . . . Sink or swim, live or die, to survive or perish with my country, that is my unalterable resolution!" It was his greatest speech. A canvas showed nine states for independence with South Carolina and Pennsylvania opposed, New York abstaining and Delaware's two votes divided. A messenger hurried off to fetch Caesar Rodney from his farm outside Dover 90 miles away. He reached Rodney's house near midnight. Rodney told his brother, Tom, "Do tend to my harvest," and galloped off in a rainstorm. Meanwhile John Adams and Lee were buttonholing Rutledge. He agreed finally to vote aye if Pennsylvania and Delaware would, too. Pennsylvania was divided four to three against with Robert Morris and Dickinson in the majority. The next day This Committee Selected the Declaration of Independence ·'-'{ (From I^eft) Benjamin Franklin, Thoinas Jefferson, John Adams, Philip Livingstone, Roger Sherman. *\ '.' i ·)·( Morris and Dickinson tactfully failed to appear. That made it 3-2 for independence. But where was Rodney? John Hancock, President of the Congress, delayed as long as he could. They broke for lunch. Finally, at 4 p.m., Hancock could put off a vote no longer. THE STATES WERE polled in order from north to south. New England was solidly for. New York had no definite instructions from its assembly and abstained. John Morton of Pennsylvania a month earlier had declared: "I most sincerely hope for reconciliation, for the contest is horrid. Parents against children and children against parents." But this day he voted with Franklin and James Wilson for independence. Just then Rodney, caked with mud, strode into the chamber. "Delayed by the storm," he said tersely and voted to break the Delaware deadlock. Rutledge voted yes. Independence had passed, 12 votes to none. The next two days the delegates debated Jefferson's document itself. In his original draft Jefferson had included in his charges against George III that "He has waged cruel war against human nature itself" by the slave trade. Rutledge spoke: "The wisdom of slavery should be determined by the states themselves." ' "The whole thing is inconsistent with our principles," Adams retorted. "Morality and wisdom have nothing to do with this," said Rutledge. "The whole passage will have to be cut. If it stays, South Carolina can never agree to the Declaration." George agreed. Jefferson, a slaveowner, was angered. But it was 3 p.m. and time for a reading. He took out his thermometer-76 degrees-then he dropped it on the floor and broke it, increasing his own temperature. The slavery paragraph went out. So did a reference to the King as a tyrant. Witherspoon, a Scot, objected to mention of "Scotch and other foreign mercenaries." Objection sustained. Biting flies from a nearby livery stable were annoying the already impatient delegates who waved them off with their handkerchiefs. It was time to vote again, and Josiah Bartlett cast the first ballot for the amended document. Secretary Charles Thomson, who had been adopted by Delaware Indians some years before for a favor and been given the name "The-Man-Who-Tells-The-Truth" diligently recorded the votes. Finally John Hancock spoke: "The Declaration by the representatives of the United States has been adopted unanimously." The only sound was the flies, buzzing in and out the windows. »· HANCOCK, WITHa reward of 500 pounds on his head, signed the document first saying: "His Majesty can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head." Thomson witnessed the president's signature, and theirs were the only names to appear on broadsides hurried into print. Those absent July 4--there were 15--and those elected later signed an engrossed copy August 2. The other delegates came up to sign the unpublished copy. William Ellery of Rhode Island saw nothing but "dauntless resolution in every face." John Adams thought "there were several who signed with regret." Aged Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island came forward leaning on his cane: "My hands may tremble, but my heart does not." Henry Laurens, later president of Congress and imprisoned in the Tower after being captured at sea by the British, said: "I wept" that day as I had done for the death of a son and felt much more pain." Charles Carroll, probably the wealthiest man in America with the most to lose, was told by Ellery he wasn't taking such a great risk, as there were two or three Charles Carroll's in Maryland. Carroll promptly added "of Carrollton," should the King have any doubts. i. (Please turn to 4D)

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