I cannot imagine the gravity of the vote.
These men held destiny in their hands that day. When we connect the dots backwards, their action seems inevitable. But at the time, they were representatives of 13 separate and independent colonies, each with its own culture and government, set on the task of considering whether to try to unite in order to fight a war of independence against the country that most of them had always considered their own.
By voting yes and then putting their signatures on the document that we call the Declaration of Independence, they changed history. But none of this seemed certain, or even likely, on that hot July day when they took this vote.
They were setting themselves on a course of war, that, if lost, would result in the loss of life and property for each of them and their families and they would forever be branded traitors. This war would not be fought overseas. It would be fought among them, on their farms and in their cities. They would be the soldiers and their families and homes would be the battlefield.They were taking on one of the great powers of the world with little more than determination and refusal to yield.
If they lost this war, the Declaration they signed would become their death warrant. It would also bring untold punishment and suffering onto their countrymen.
Courage is often foolish. It can be rash. I am sure that these men wondered if they were being both. The odds, after all, were against them, and the cost of failure extreme. But they took the step off the side of the cliff and signed.
The rest is history.
Happy Birthday America, Home of the Brave, Land of the Free.