Freedom and the Spirit of 1776
John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence is unmistakable. John Hancock signed his name first and in very large letters. It is said that he wrote extremely large because he wanted King George to be able to read it without using his glasses. This may or may not be true, but we do know that Hancock was very courageous when he signed this document. There was a reward out for John Hancock because King George labeled him as a traitor to England. The British government even offered a reward for Hancock’s capture
Each founding father who signed of the Declaration of Independence were in grave danger. If the American colonies lost the war, the British would charge them of working against the King and the British government. This would, in fact, be called an act of treason, and such acts of treason were punished by death. Benjamin Franklin had a good sense of humor in spite of the danger. When it was his turn to sign he said, “We must all hang together, or we shall all hang separately.”
Each of the signers was willing to risk their lives because they believed in the ideals and principles written in that Declaration. Thomas Jefferson, who later became President of the United States, wrote these famous words:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The Declaration of Independence was the first was the beginning of our democracy. Since 1776 it has been a model to nations around the world to build this kind of government for themselves.