In Our Own Words: What Early America Thought MILITARY JOURNAL BY JAMES THACHER, SURGEON IN THE AMERICAN ARMY. http://www.americanrevolution.org/thacher.html
his day the declaration of American Independence has been proclaimed in form from the balcony of the state-house in this town. On this most joyful occasion Colonels Whitcomb and Sargeant's regiments, were paraded under arms in King street; and also a detachment from the Massachusetts regiment of artillery with two field pieces. A number of the members of our council and house of representatives, the magistrates, clergymen, selectmen, and a large number of other gentlemen of Boston, and of the neighboring towns, assembled in the council-chamber. At one o'clock the declaration was proclaimed by Colonel Thomas Crafts, and was received with great joy. Three huzzas from the concourse of people were given, after which thirteen pieces of cannon were fired from Fort hill and from Dorchester neck, the Castle, Nantasket, &c. The detachment of artillery in King street, discharged their cannon thirteen times; which was followed by the two regiments in thirteen separate divisions; all corresponding to the number of the American United States; after which, the gentlemen in the council chamber partook of a collation, and a number of appropriate toasts were proclaimed by the president of the council. This highly important transaction of our Congress is the theme of every circle and topic of universal discussion, and it receives the sanction and approbation of a large majority of the community. When we reflect on the deranged condition of our army, the great deficiency of our resources, and the little prospect of foreign assistance, and at the same time contemplate the prodigious powers and resources of our enemy, we may view this measure of Congress as a prodigy. The history of the world cannot furnish an instance of fortitude and heroic magnanimity parallel to that displayed by the members, whose signatures are affixed to the declaration of American Independence. Their venerated names will ornament the brightest pages of American history, and be transmitted to the latest generations. The instrument was signed by John Hancock, Esq. as President, and by fifty-four others, delegates from the thirteen United States. The Congress have in their declaration, recited the grievances and oppressions, for which we could not obtain redress; and proclaimed to the world the causes which impelled them to a separation from the crown of Great Britain. A sensible and popular writer, in a production entitled "Common Sense," argues the necessity of the measure from the following considerations. "We had no credit abroad because of our rebellious dependency. Our ships could obtain no protection in foreign ports, because we afforded them no justifiable reason for granting it to us. The calling of ourselves subjects, and at the same time fighting against the prince we acknowledge, was a dangerous precedent to all Europe. If the grievances justified our taking up arms, they justified our separation; if they did not justify our separation, neither could they justify our taking arms. All Europe was interested in reducing us as rebels, and all Europe, or the greater part at least, is interested in supporting us in our independent state. At home our condition was still worse; our currency had no foundation; and the state of it would have ruined whig and tory alike. We had no other laws than a kind of moderated passion; no other civil power than an honest mob; and no other protection than the temporary attachment of one man to another. Had independency been delayed a few months longer, this continent would have been plunged into irretrievable confusion; some violent for it, some against it - all in the greatest cabal; the rich would have been ruined, and the poor destroyed. The necessity of being independent would have brought it on in a little time, had there been no rupture between Britain and America. The increasing importance of commerce - the weight and perplexity of legislation - and the enlarged state of European politics, would clearly have shown to the continent the impropriety of continuing subordinate; for after the coolest reflection on the matter, this must be allowed, 'that Britain was too jealous of America to govern it justly; too ignorant of it to govern it well; and too distant from it to govern it at all.'" The author of Common Sense is Mr. Thomas Paine, lately from England. I am credibly informed that the following anecdote occurred on the day of signing the declaration. Mr. Harrison, a delegate from Virginia, is a large portly man - Mr. Gerry of Massachusetts is slender and spare. A little time after the solemn transaction of signing the instrument, Mr. Harrison said smilingly to Mr. Gerry, "When the hanging scene comes to be exhibited, I shall have the advantage over you, on account of my size. All will be over with me in a moment, but you will be kicking in the air half an hour after I am gone."