Saturday morning, over a cup of coffee, I read the United States Declaration of Independence. It seemed like a good thing to do. It is not a long document, yet I had only read a few sentences of it in the past. So this time I read the whole thing and found it only took about 15 minutes (because I read it slowly and thoughtfully).
As I read each of the 56 names of the signers, I realized I only recognized a small handful of those names from history class all those years ago. And yet each of these signers showed so much courage in choosing to send this declaration to the king. By signing, they knew they were committing treason, and they pledged their lives on what they were doing – in fact I would expect many of them thought they would die for this act (and perhaps many of them did – I don’t know the entire history of the 56).
These 56 signers believed firmly that what they were doing was right, yet they didn’t enter into things hastily. They had worked for years to correct injustices. They had signed petitions, had published statements, attempted to enact legislation, and had brought cases to court. However, the tyranny of the king continued and even strengthened. It was only after much suffering of the common people that they chose to declare the United States was its own separate country and they would no longer consider themselves to be part of Great Britain or obey British laws. As I have been doing some research into courageous leadership, I find this declaration to be an amazing example of courage and leadership.