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Sixth Week of Writing "Jefferson’s Masterpiece"

My writing assignment for last week was more difficult than I expected – writing about the activities of July 2 and July 3, 1776, in the Second Continental Congress. These were the days when the Virginia Resolution was adopted that granted independence to the thirteen colonies, and when the delegates began a line-by-line evaluation of the declaration statement that Thomas Jefferson wrote.

My objective, as it has been from the beginning, is to weave fact with fiction in ways that children, as well as adults, will get a clear understanding of how and why our Declaration of Independence was adopted – the achievement that created the United States of America.

As has become my practice, here are excerpts from July 2 and July 3. I hope that I have provided some new information for you, or, perhaps refreshed your memory.


As debate on the Virginia Resolution continued, Caesar Rodney was riding by horseback to Philadelphia. In June, the Delaware delegate had returned home to rest from his illness and to tend to some of his other official duties – brigadier general of the Delaware militia and speaker of the General Assembly. Rodney was in constant pain from the facial cancer that left his face disfigured. He also had breathing problems because of asthma.

Fellow Delaware delegate Thomas McKean had sent a messenger to alert Rodney that his vote was needed to cast the deciding vote on Delaware’s approval of the Virginia Resolution. McKean favored the resolution and George Read – the third Delaware delegate – was opposed.

Despite his ill health, Rodney began his ride to Philadelphia during the night of July 1. It was a bad night for a person with his health conditions to be out. He made the 80-mile trip through a violent, summer thunderstorm over muddy roads, swollen streams and slippery cobblestone streets.

He arrived in the early afternoon just as Secretary Thomson began to call the role.


“These horseflies are a constant nuisance,” Jefferson leaned over and whispered to Benjamin Franklin. “This window seems to be their favorite gateway, and I do not understand why. My silk stockings are not offering any protection whatsoever. I am sorry, but I am going to have to close this window again.”

“The heat inside this room is unbearable,” responded Franklin, “but the horseflies are worse.”

Jefferson recorded the outside temperature to be 76 degrees at 1:30 p.m.

The delegates had made it a practice to keep the windows and doors shut to prevent news of their activities from becoming public. The windows were opened from time-to-time to let the hot air out and fresh, cooler air in. Unfortunately, horseflies from a nearby stable were frequent visitors when the windows were opened.

The clothing each man wore added to the discomfort. The typical eighteenth-century man wore a three-piece suit (coat, waistcoat and breeches), a white linen shirt with a white linen cravat wrapped around his neck, a pair of cotton or linen knee high hose tucked under the breeches, and a wig covered the head.

Like most of the other delegates, Jefferson and Franklin had removed their coats and unbuttoned their waistcoats. Fortunately, neither of them wore a wig.

Jefferson sat anxiously while the delegates reviewed the declaration. Though he originally did not want to write the declaration, he now found himself protective of every word and sentence that he had written.

Next week’s journal will cover the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the events that followed.

Thanks for your time today,


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Comment by Curtis J Neeley Jr MFA on April 5, 2010 at 2:17pm
What about this time {1789} the book publishers and lawyers were first conspiring to create a "license to sue" based on the Statute of Anne from 1709 from the country they were about to declare war with. At least in England they had not called that "license" a "right" and invent a new word for it. 5:09-cv-05151 should stop that fraud.

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