A Hanging Offense
Samizdata reminds modern readers what an act of treason against the Crown the Declaration of Independence was and how much its signers had at stake.
We therefore the representatives of the United States of America in General Congress assembled do, in the name & by authority of the good people of these states, reject and renounce all allegiance & subjection to the kings of Great Britain & all others who may hereafter claim by, through, or under them; we utterly dissolve & break off all political connection which may have heretofore subsisted between us & the people or parliament of Great Britain; and finally we do assert and declare these colonies to be free and independant states, and that as free & independant states they shall hereafter have power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, & to do all other acts and things which independant states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, & our sacred honour.
Reading these words today, one is struck by their sheer audacity. The plotters, as they might well have been called, staked everything on the outcome of the enterprise. A noose awaited the losers. This is in stark contrast to the equivocating, weasely behavior of modern leaders who would, if it were possible, have their cake and eat it too.