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Solving a Mystery in American History November 22 2013

When Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, he chose to open the document with an explanation. He wrote that revolution was justified by a Law of Nature that demanded governments provide for certain rights or cease to exist. Therefore, King George, who had violated these rights over and over, was no longer fit to govern them.

This thought was actually first introduced into American history by another Declaration committee member, John Adams. In 1774, Adams represented Massachusetts to the First Continental Congress. At the Congress, he lobbied—unsuccessfully—for the acceptance of a Natural Law as a colonial right. He and his supporters knew that the adoption of such a principle would pave the way for revolution. Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania and his supporters argued vociferously against it because they too knew the outcome.

In The Dubious Achievement of the First Continental Congress, a groundbreaking book by our book publisher, James Thompson, the devious arrangement that resulted in Adam's Natural Law's inclusion into the minutes of the meeting is revealed. Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Congress and devoted Patriot, inserted the suggestion into the minutes after the meeting had already adjourned. Thomson fought with other representatives over accusations of similar behavior, but this devious act would have far reaching consequences two years later.