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The Movie and the Reality

July 28, 2014

In the movie 1776 John Dickinson is portrayed as refusing to sign the Declaration of Independence and then honorably resigning from the Continental Congress to join the army in what he considers to be a futile fight for independence.  His parting words express an undying hope that the Colonies and the Mother Country will be reconciled.

It is true that he joined the militia, but he did not have an undying hope for reconciliation.  Although he refused to sign the Declaration, his objection pertained to the timing and not the substance of the document.  Many of the complaints that appear in the Declaration had been anticipated by the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, a document which Dickinson authored on behalf of the Stamp Act Congress in 1765.

Dickinson has been called the Penman of the Revolution for his Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania.  These letters preceded Thomas Paine’s Common Sense by  many years.

Throughout his life Dickinson held many offices and served on many committees.  He signed both the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution.  As a member of the Committee on Postponed Parts he played a decisive role in presidential history.  We will discuss that next time.

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