The signing of the Declaration of Independence 236 years ago was an amazing accomplishment.
A lot can still be learned from the history leading up to the document.
The document required the agreement of conservatives, moderates and liberals.
They disagreed, debated and eventually put aside their differences to find a path that led to the creation of our nation.
The differences of the 13 colonies stood out even more than those of today’s 50 states. With only the backing of a majority or two-thirds of the colonies, the great experiment would have failed. With compromises, all 13 backed it.
The Declaration of Independence also required outside help. It wouldn’t have gotten a consensus of the colonies without a king who was arrogant, out-of-touch with the people and oblivious to their cries for justice.
For years, many colonists would have been satisfied with fairness from their king.
Patriotic to their monarch, they were incredulous that he wouldn’t address their legitimate grievances.
As late as 1774, the First Continental Congress petitioned King George III for relief. Had he acquiesced, it’s unlikely the events of the next two years would have transpired.
Like many rulers in recent decades, he could have avoided revolt if he had been just and compassionate.
Many people with power over a kingdom or a small organization could learn from his errors.
Polarized politicians, who adhere to party lines rather than the needs of their nation, could also learn from the debates, compromises and eventual agreement that brought liberals and conservatives together to found our country.
Liberals spurred the colonies toward a break with England. Conservatives held back on the reins while exploring less drastic options.
Had the vision and the timing not been right, the support necessary for such an audacious undertaking may not have existed.
Gradual changes in views by men such as John Adams and Benjamin Franklin — who didn’t let ideology stand in the way of observation, thought and growth — provide insightful reading.
So does the vigor and vision of Thomas Jefferson and the roles of Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine and countless others.
In the end, liberals, moderates and conservatives worked together to create the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution.
Without multiple sides to offer ideas, we would not have our unique nation, offering freedoms to citizens of varied religions and ethnicities.
The entire world would have had to wait for a model for throwing off tyranny and providing opportunity.
Thank God for our Founding Fathers.
May we continue to learn from them.
Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@the
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