Chapter XIII. Independence
On the fourth day of the following July
there was a great stir in the
town of Philadelphia. Congress was sitting in the Hall of the
House. The streets were full of people - everybody seemed anxious -
everybody was in suspense.
Men were crowding around the State House and listening.
"Who is speaking now?" asked
"John Adams," was the answer.
"And who is speaking now?"
"Good! Let them follow his advice,
for he knows what is best."
Then there was a lull outside, for everybody wanted to hear
great Dr. Franklin had to say.
After a while the same question was
asked again: "Who
is speaking now?"
And the answer was: "Thomas
Jefferson of Virginia. It was he and
Franklin who wrote it."
"Why, the Declaration of Independence,
A little later some one said: "They
will be ready to sign it soon."
"But will they dare to sign
"Dare? They dare not do otherwise."
Inside the hall grave men were discussing the acts of the
"He has cut off our trade with all parts of the world," said
"He has forced us to pay taxes without our consent," said
"He has sent his soldiers among
us to burn our towns and kill our
people," said a third.
"He has tried to make the Indians our enemies," said
"He is a tyrant and unfit to be the ruler of a free people," agreed
And then everybody was silent while
one read: "We, therefore,
representatives of the United States of America, solemnly publish
declare that the united colonies are, and of right ought to
and independent states_"
Soon afterward the bell in the high tower above the hall began
"It is done!" cried the people. "They
have signed the Declaration of
"Yes, every colony has voted for it," said those
nearest the door. "The
King of England shall no longer rule over us."
And that was the way in which the United States came into
thirteen colonies were now thirteen states.
Up to this time Washington and his Army had been fighting
for the rights
of the people as colonists. They had been fighting in order
the king to do away with the unjust laws which he had made.
But now they
were to fight for freedom and for the independence of the United
By and by you will read in your histories how wisely and bravely
Washington conducted the war. You will learn how he held out
king's soldiers on Long Island and at White Plains - how he
Delaware amid floating ice and drove the English from Trenton -
wintered at Morristown - how he suffered at Valley Forge - how
at Germantown and Monmouth and Yorktown.
There were six years of fighting, of marching here and there,
directing and planning, of struggling in the face of every
Eight years passed, and then peace came, for independence
had been won,
and this our country was made forever free.
On the 2d of November, 1783, Washington bade farewell to his
Army . On
the 23d of December he resigned his commission as commander-in-chief.
There were some who suggested that Washington should make
of this country - and indeed this he might have done, so great
people's love and gratitude.
But the great man spurned such suggestions.
He said, "If
you have any
regard for your country or respect for me, banish those thoughts
never again speak of them."