Paul Jacob

Sometimes the word is the deed.

To say “I promise” is to promise.

To say “I am free” is to stand up for yourself, to take the first step to freedom.

America’s independent stance began in earnest and in union with a few simple words:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

The resolution, written by Virginia representative Richard Henry Lee and accepted by a vote of colonial representatives, made history. As John Adams put it, “[o]n July 2, 1776 the Association known as United Colonies of America officially became the United States of America.”

But the words we remember better were written by another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, and revised by Benjamin Franklin, Adams, and the Second Continental Congress. Indeed, this Declaration of Independence is the most inspiring statement for individual freedom in all of history. I reread it with pleasure and awe every July 4th — the 4th rather than the 2nd because it was the on the 4th that twelve of the 13 colonies voted to accept the Declaration. (New York’s delegates had some credentials and voting issues on the fateful date.)ÊIt’s still possible to learn something new about the document: The Library of Congress has just determined that a famous unreadable smudge on an early draft was Jefferson changing “subject” to “citizen.” Talk about a word change serving as deed itself!

But often deeds mean something far more than words.

Achieving freedom depended on acts of bravery and daring. It took the daring Boston Tea Party to catalyze the revolutionary fervor; the shots at Lexington and Concord brought the question of independence to an imperative. And it took courage and blood and sacrifice of thousands of soldiers on the battlefield — and the leadership of General George Washington — to secure the new nation.

It’s worth remembering those men, today. Their deeds served as more than mere exclamation points to the words of the Resolution and the Declaration.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.