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is that both these venerable witnesses were mistaken; that the original Declaration was signed only by the president and secretary, John Hancock and Charles Thomson, and that the general signing of the parchment copy took place on August 2d. It is probable, at least, that fifty-four of the fifty-six names were appended on that day, and that it was afterwards signed by Thornton, of New Hampshire, who was not then a member, and by McKean, who was then temporarily absent.

Jefferson used to relate, “with much merriment, says Parton, that the final signing of the Declaration was hastened by a very trivial circumstance. Near the hall was a large stable, whence the flies issued in legions. Gentlemen were in those days peculiarly sensitive to such discomforts by reason of silk stockings; and when this annoyance, superadded to the summer heat of Philadelphia, had become intolerable, they hastened to bring the business to a conclusion. This may equally well refer, however, to the original vote; flies are flies, whether in July or in August.

American tradition has clung to the phrases assigned to the different participants in this scene: John Hancock's commentary on his own bold handwriting, “There, John Bull may read my name without spectacles"; Franklin's, “We must hang together, or else, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately”; and the heavy Harrison's remark to the slender Elbridge Gerry, that in that event Gerry would be kicking in the air long after his own fate would be settled. These things may or may not have been said, but it gives a more human interest to the event when we know that they were even rumored. What we long to know is,

that the great acts of history were done by men like ourselves, and not by dignified machines.

This is the story of the signing. Of the members who took part in that silent drama of 1776, some came to greatness in consequence, becoming presidents, vice - presidents, governors, chief - justices, or judges; others came, in equally direct consequence, to poverty, flight, or imprisonment. “Hunted like a fox by the enemy," "a prisoner twenty-four hours without food,” “not daring to remain two successive nights beneath one shelter"—these are the records we may find in the annals of the Revolution in regard to many a man who stood by John Hancock on that summer day to sign his name. It is a pleasure to think that not one of them ever disgraced, publicly or conspicuously, the name he had written. Of the rejoicings which, everywhere throughout the colonies, followed the signing, the tale has been often told. It has been told so often, if the truth must be confessed, that it is not now easy to distinguish the romance from the simple fact. The local antiquarians of Philadelphia bid us dismiss forever from the record the picturesque old bell-ringer and his eager boy, waiting breathlessly to announce to the assembled thousands the final vote of Congress on the Declaration. The tale is declared to be a pure fiction, of which there exists not even a local tradition. The sessions of Congress were then secret, and there was no expectant crowd outside. It was not till the 5th 'of July that Congress sent out circulars announcing the Declaration; not till the 6th that it appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper; and not till the 8th that it was read by John Nixon in the yard of Independence Hall. It was read from an observatory there erected by the American Philosophical Society, seven years before, to observe the transit of Venus. The King's arms over the door of the Supreme Court room in Independence Hall were torn down by a committee of the Volunteer force called “associators ”; these trophies were burned in the evening, in the presence of a great crowd of citizens, and no doubt amid the joyful pealing of the old “Independence" bell. There is also a tradition that on the afternoon of that day, or possibly a day or two earlier, there was a joyful private celebration of the great event, by Jefferson and others, at the garden-house of a country-seat in Frankford (near Philadelphia), then occupied by Dr. Enoch Edwards, a leading patriot of that time.

It is certain that a portion of the signers of the Declaration met two years after, for a cheery commemoration of their great achievement, in the Philadelphia City Tavern. The enjoyment of the occasion was enhanced by the recent deliverance of the city from the presence of General Howe, and by the contrast between this festival and that lately given by the British officers to him, known in history as the “Meschianza.This chapter may well close with a passage from the manuscript diaries of William Ellery, now lying before me:

“On the glorious Fourth of July (1778), I celebrated in the City Tavern, with my brother delegates of Congress and a number of other gentlemen, amounting, in the whole, to about eighty, the anniversary of Independency. The entertainment was elegant and well conducted. There were four tables spread; two of them extended the whole length of the room, the other two crossed them at right angles. At the end of the room, opposite the upper table, was erected an Orchestra. At the head of the upper table, and at the President's right hand, stood a large baked pudding, in the centre of which was planted a staff, on which was displayed a crimson flag, in the midst of which was this emblematic device: An eye, denoting Providence; a label, on which was inscribed, 'An appeal to Heaven'; a man with a drawn sword in his hand, and the other the Declaration of Independency, and at his feet a scroll inscribed, 'The declaratory acts.' As soon as the dinner began, the music, consisting of clarionets, hautboys, French horns, violins, and bass-viols, opened and continued, making proper pauses, until it was finished. Then the toasts, followed by a discharge of field - pieces, were drank, and so the afternoon ended. In the evening there was a cold collation and a brilliant exhibition of fireworks. The street was crowded with people during the exhibition. ...

What a strange vicissitude in human affairs! These, but a few years since colonies of Great Britain, are now free, sovereign, and independent States, and now celebrate the anniversary of their independence in the very city where, but a day or two before, General Howe exhibited his ridicu- • lous Champhaitre."

XII

THE BIRTH OF A NATION

"

Y lords," said the Bishop of St. Asaph's, in the

British House of Lords, “I look upon North America as the only great nursery of freedom left upon the face of the earth.” It is the growth of freedom in this nursery which really interests us most in the Revolutionary period; all the details of battles are quite secondary. Indeed, in any general view of the history of a nation, the steps by which it gets into a war and finally gets out again are of more importance than all that lies between.

No doubt every skirmish in a prolonged contest has its bearing on national character, but it were to consider too curiously to dwell on this, and most of the continuous incident of a war belongs simply to military history. If this is always the case, it is peculiarly true of the war of American independence, which exhibited, as was said by the ardent young Frenchman Lafayette, "the grandest of causes won by contests of sentinels and outposts."

The Declaration of Independence was publicly read throughout the colonies, and was communicated by Washington in a general order, July 9, 1776, with the following announcement:“The general hopes this important event will serve as an incentive to every officer and soldier to act with fidelity and courage, as

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