Americans take the Fourth of July for granted. To them it means trips to the seashore or mountains. Few think of it as the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
And the people who do think about it don't realize how difficult it was to produce.
The Second Continental Congress debated the Declaration for months in Philadelphia. And that is when the lobbyists went to work.
The lobbyist for the British Tea Co. wanted to include a paragraph making it a crime to dump tea into Boston Harbor. Those who did would be taxed under the Environmental Act.
The British lobbyist was opposed by the Anti-Tax Coalition, which gave out T-shirts saying, "Don't Vote for a Tax Without Representation Because It's Tyranny."
The lobby for the American Slave Owners Association, one of the most powerful associations in the South, proposed striking an amendment making the owning of slaves a crime.
The South promised it would fight the amendment no matter what John Adams said. The debate got so bitter that several states threatened to pull out of the union.
The pro-slavery lobbyist took the delegates to a delicious dinner every night in Philadelphia, and Thomas Jefferson was persuaded not to mention slavery in the Declaration.
One of the most powerful lobbyists in Philadelphia, Jack Abramowitz, represented the Indian Nation, which hoped to get gambling rights to the northern states. Jack knew several of the signers and took them on golf trips to the Greenbrier in West Virginia.
He also had a political slush fund of $10 million, supplied by the Indians, for signers of the Declaration who were sympathetic to the gambling cause. Abramowitz might have been successful with his lobbying effort, but he was investigated by the Continental Congress Ethics Committee. Instead of giving the Indians gambling rights, the Colonies declared war on them and called them "savages who want to kill the colonists' wives and children." It wasn't until 1988 that the states apologized and the Indians were able to open their casinos.
The British were also lobbying against the Declaration. They sent a team to Philadelphia from the London public relations firm of Johnnie Walker, Ballantine & Chivas Regal to see if they could find some way of preventing the Colonies from breaking away from the mother country.
These are notes from the minutes of their planning session:
Johnnie Walker: "We can't stop the Declaration from being signed, but we can put a spin on it. We can say George III is for a Declaration that espouses freedom because it shows his colonists have minds of their own."
Ballantine: "Why don't we leak it to the press that John Adams, Tom Jefferson and Ben Franklin are traitors to the crown and are responsible for all the troubles in the Western Hemisphere?"
Chivas Regal: "I agree. We'll tell them if they sign the Declaration it will cost them jobs in all the colonies, health insurance will be scrapped and they'll lose all pension benefits they have saved over the years."
Johnnie Walker: "We will claim that George III is a good man and a kind man who loves all people, except for the French."
Ballantine: "Do you think it will work?"
Chivas Regal: "It has to, or the 13 colonies will become a country and we will lose the account and go back to England with egg on our faces."
(c) 2005, Tribune Media Services