25 A Bold Act of Defiance

Franklin urged the delegates opposing independence to change their minds. He said the vote had to be unani- mous or the struggle would surely fail. He warned the delegates that if the war was lost, King George would send them to the gallows . He said: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we will all hang separately.” The declaration was read. Changes were made; most of the changes were minor, but there was one significant alteration—a passage blaming King George for the slave trade was removed from the final draft. Finally, a roll call vote was taken. One by one, the del- egates stood at their desks in the State House and voted in favor of independence. All delegates but those repre- senting New York cast their ballots for independence. The New York delegates did not vote. They were waiting for instructions from the New York Assembly, which was still debating the issue of independence. On July 9, the New York Assembly cast its ballot for independence, making the vote unanimous. At first, the declaration received just two signatures— those of Hancock, the president of the Congress, and Charles Thomson, the secretary. Later, the signatures of the other delegates were added. Hancock signed his name in grand style, using a large and elaborate signature that clearly dominates the parchment below the words of the declaration and stands out from the other signatures. It was a bold act of defiance by the president of the Congress, showing the

Made with