Over the July 4 holiday we experienced the traditional red-white-and-blue salutes to our nation, along with tributes paid the patriots who signed the Declaration of Independence. The 56 delegates to the Continental Congress were well-educated, wealthy and influential in their respective colonies. Among them were three from North Carolina: Joseph Hewes, a merchant and justice of the peace from Edenton; John Penn, a farmer from Island Creek in Granville County; and William Hooper, a lawyer from New Hanover County.
Many hours were spent in 1775-76 debating, but, after lengthy deliberation, they affixed their names to the Declaration of Independence. I found myself wondering whether I would have signed it. Would you have taken such a momentous step? They were committing treason against the most powerful monarch of the most powerful country then known, effectively signing their own death warrants.