Freedom: A History of US

Webisode 1. Segment 9
No Turning Back

So finally the day arrived. July 4, 1776. The members of the Second Continental Congress were ready to sign the Declaration of Independence See It Now - Presenting the Declaration to Congress. John Hancock See It Now - John Hancock of Massachusetts was the first to put his name down. He did it with a big, bold signature, "so the king doesn't have to put his glasses on," he said. Fifty-six men put their names on the Declaration of Independence. All knew that if the colonial army was defeated by Britain, they would pay with their lives.

Copies of the Declaration were still warm from the printing press when they were stuffed into saddlebags and sent on their way to each of the thirteen colonies. It was five days later when the Declaration reached New York City. It was then read aloud to General Washington's troops, who shouted hurrah and tossed their hats in the air See It Now - The Declaration of Independence read to troops. That night a metal statue of King George was pulled down from its pedestal to be melted down and turned into bullets See It Now - King George statue pulled down.

On July 19, the Declaration arrived in Boston and Tom Crafts, a house painter, stepped out on a small square balcony in front of the Massachusetts State House and read it aloud See It Now - Declaration read in Boston: Hear It Now - Tom Crafts "When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 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."

When he finished, a voice rang out, "God save the American States." Abigail Adams See It Now - Abigail Adams was among the crowd and described the scene: Hear It Now - Abigail Adams "The bells rang ... the cannon were discharged ... and every face appeared joyful.... After dinner the King's Arms were taken down from the State House and every vestige of him ... burnt.... Thus ends royal authority in this state.... And all the people shall say Amen See It Now - King George Cartoon."

Now there was no turning back.

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