by Robert R. Hieronimus, Ph.D.
On July 4th, 1776, fifty-six courageous men dared to sign the revolutionary Declaration of Independence. The act of signing marked each of them as enemies of King George and came at an enormous personal price. Several suffered imprisonment, had their lands confiscated, their homes burned, or experienced extreme retribution that extended to their wives and children.
What forces could have so powerfully fueled their commitment to birth a new system of government? Some surprising and unexpected answers include:
1. The first to sign, John Hancock, was given the Indian name "Karanduawn" meaning "The Great Tree" after the Iroquois chiefs observed the Continental Congress debating in Philadelphia. The Iroquois named him after their own symbol for their democratic, enlightened and unified system of governance. Discovering this ancient system of self-rule is what convinced the Colonials they, too, could break free from monarchy and rule themselves. More amazingly, the Iroquois system, attributed to the circa 1142 A.D. visions of Deganawidah, a Huron prophet, was mimicked by the founders at almost ever turn, including separation of powers; sovereignty in We the People; and even the notion of federalism. Jefferson, Monroe, and Madison, the father of the Constitution, actually traveled to the Iroquois chiefs for guidance on how to work the Articles of Confederation into the Constitution.
2. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine were among those founders deeply influenced by the Iroquois League's charter and the respect they held for the eloquent Iroquois spokesperson, Canassatego. Franklin widely published Canassatego's speech of 1774, whereby the great leader encouraged representatives from the Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia colonies to unite in a new harmonious vision of governance, just as the original five nations of Native Americans had centuries before. John Adams would later praise the ideals contained in the Iroquois Charter in his "Defense of The Constitution."
3. Many Signers belonged to international fraternal orders that espoused the brotherhood of mankind, and some were frequenters of the Ephrata, PA community dedicated to preserving the mystic teachings of Jacob Boehme, which has also been linked to early Rosicrucianism. Washington relied most heavily on his brotherhood among the Freemasons from whom he selected his top generals. Together they were able to build a trusted network of secrecy and honor that instilled the necessary courage and timing to win what should have been an unwinnable war.
4. The “New World” was a haven for countless religious sects fleeing Europe, breaking off from the establishment church to try something new. Many women assumed positions of leadership for the first time. One of them was Mother Ann Lee, leader of the Shakers, who claimed many visions and revelations throughout her life (1736-1784) including the then-radical notion that men and women should be treated equally. Predating her, of course, were the Native Americans, many of whom on the East Coast had long honored women with positions of power.
5. Perhaps most surprising to some would be the consideration of extraterrestrial life expressed by several “founding fathers”, including Thomas Paine: “God has created a plurality of worlds, called planets, which should be inhabited at every level. There is no reason to believe that so vast a creation should be barren and lying in eternal waste.”
6. There is strong evidence that the founders used astrology to engineer the most auspicious moment for the July 4th signing of the Declaration of Independence. Popular Almanacs of the Colonial day reveal a widespread interest in astrology, and strangely, three presidents died on the Fourth of July: Jefferson and Adams expired within hours of each other on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration’s signing, and James Monroe passed away five years later, on the same day.
7. As a member of numerous secret societies, Benjamin Franklin was a utilitarian occultist. He wrote about his belief in higher dimensions of existence, and this epitaph he wrote for himself, though in jest, suggests a sincere belief in reincarnation. “The Body of B. Franklin Printer (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stript of its lettering and gilding) lies here, food for worms, but the work shall not be lost; for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant Edition Revised and corrected by the author.”
Some of the more visionary tendencies of the American “founding fathers” can be seen in their use of the Eye of God and an Egyptian style pyramid on the Reverse Seal of The United States. This plus the obelisk shape of the Washington Monument demonstrate an awareness of the humanistic ideals of Akhenaton - the first Diest leader. Their admiration for the ancient Greek philosophers' dream of a perfected society that dignified all its citizens is evidenced by the classic architecture and 10-mile square, diamond-shaped, layout of our Washington, D.C. nation's capital. Although far from perfect, our American “founding fathers” set forth a noble vision of government that continues to evolve, perfect, and inspire others around the world today.
The rest will be scattered through the exhibition as Factoids as they are not Founder info:
Abraham Lincoln was always interested in dreams. A few days before he was assassinated he recounted a disturbing dream to his friend and bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon, “I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping… Before me was… a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers… ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers. ‘The President,’ was his answer. ‘He was killed by an assassin.’”
Benjamin Banneker, self-taught genius astronomer not only believed in life on other planets, but also predicted the binary nature of the star Sirius long before it was provable by telescopes. This knowledge may have been inherited through his ancestral Dogon line, but even more mysterious is how the ancient African tribe knew Sirius was a double star to begin with.
The Great Seal of the United States, mainly designed by the Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson, is clearly a prophetic statement. Called by his adopted Delaware nation “Man Who Tells the Truth”, Thomson predicted this new republic would be the model for countless independence movements around the world, especially with the motto that translates “New Order of the Ages”, by which he meant it was the dawning of a new era of republican (with a small “r”) self-rule around the world.
According to biographer Paula Gunn Allen, Pocahontas had a medicine name of Amonute, which identified her as a Beloved Woman of her people, or a shaman of some high repute. To understand her motives, it helps to remember that her people lived in what might be considered an altered state of consciousness 24/7, or manito aki, completely in tune with the Earth and elements and able to work “magic” through this hyper awareness. Native American historians are beginning to reclaim the history of Pocahontas, whose image has long been co-opted by Euro-Americans to serve as their symbol of the Indian Princess.