Drawing Straws, For Real

Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman…were true patriots, indispensable founders; their appointment to the so-called Committee of Five was not a surprise.  Livingston was one of the most renowned legal minds in the country, and Sherman is said to have never uttered and incorrect sentence in his life.  Yet, neither man stood a chance of being chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence.  All eyes turned to Dr. Franklin…

No one edits my work

Ben Franklin was unable to write… for he was stricken with gout and vanity.  Franklin expressed his displeasure with the editing process, his work being doctored by committee.  Franklin’s gout was inflamed to the point where he only attended a few of the committee’s meetings.  Franklin’s absence meant that the committee was increasingly relying on the leadership of the outspoken John Adams.  There had been no stronger voice in the Second Continental Congress in favor of independence, so it seemed natural he draft the Declaration.  Adams had other ideas, for perhaps his voice was too loud, and a softer touch was needed…

Mr. Jefferson draws the straw

Thomas Jefferson was the most unlikely member… of the Committee of Five.  Adams remarked “During the whole time I sat with him in Congress, I never heard him utter three sentences together.”  But Adams had recognized the brilliance of the young Virginian after reading his Summary View on the Rights of British America.  Adams understood the situation-  1. He was too well-known, and disliked to bring legitimacy to a document of such importance.  2. Virginia was essential to colonial unity, someone from Virginia had to draft the document.  3.  Adams acknowledged that Jefferson was “10 times the writer” he was.   Jefferson was chosen, it was up to him….


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