Monday, October 31, 2011
They could write like angels and scheme like demons. Trained as attorneys, they thoroughly mastered that craft only to turn their formidable legal skills toward statecraft. Both men preferred farming to law or politics. But the year was 1776, and their respective colonies - North America's two most populous British domains - had sent them to Philadelphia as delegates to the Second Continental Congress. When all reasonable hope of reconciliation with Britain expired, the Assembly named them to a special, five-member committee charged with drafting a formal Declaration of Independence for the "united colonies." Standing shoulder to shoulder with delegates from the thirteen self-proclaimed sovereign states on that first Fourth of July, John Adams of Massachusetts and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia signed the subtly eloquent document that their committee had crafted. Among the delegates, Adams had argued longest and most effectively for independence. Within the committee, Jefferson had taken the lead in writing the Declaration itself.
-Edward J Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe