My Place at the Signing

I was at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Do you know how when you do something in the moment, it doesn’t mean that much to you? But later on when you reminisce, that same moment seems important and special. Well…

It was a hot day in Philadelphia. Back then we had to wear a lot of layers. If we showed anything other than our hands and face we were put in the stockades. That’s where your hands and feet are locked up in latched-shut boards in public, and you can’t even scratch your nose. That happened to me twice, once for sneezing in public, and the other time for thinking bad thoughts of Aaron Burr.

Everyone was lined-up in the big hall, sweating like waterfalls down King George’s nervous back. It was an incredibly slow line. Back then we didn’t have copies to pass out so everyone could take a look at the same time. Each person went up to the Declaration and read it. Actually they were read to. It was a rare luxury to be literate.

By the time it was my turn, I was so dizzy and impatient that I pretended I could read and I signed and quickly ran out to the muddy street and then up the Ye Old Tavern where I had a warm beer. A beautiful woman sat down next to me. I told her I just signed the Declaration of Independence. She told me she had scurvy and asked if I could make donations towards her repairs.

In retrospect, I feel like I did a good thing that day. Our country was limping by and we needed something to give us a boost of confidence. England didn’t see it that way and twice tried hanging me. Luckily, back then the workmanship in rope was generally shoddy and seldom supported more than five pounds. As a recompense, I had to say I was sorry for what I did, and that I would do my best not to do it again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *