Lawyers and Liberty
This week, lines of eager patrons clutter the fireworks stands. On July 4, the smell of hot dogs on the grill will waft through the air, and swarms of families and friends will occupy every picnic table, park and backyard across the nation as we commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 - the document responsible for our nation’s freedom.
Have you ever wondered who, exactly, was behind our freedom? The phrase “Founding Fathers,” and the names “John Adams” and “Thomas Jefferson” certainly ring a bell, but did you know, including Adams and Jefferson, that 24 of the Declaration signers were lawyers?
From the very beginning, lawyers have played a crucial role in establishing and upholding our freedom. In the words of Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Steven Taylor, "Whenever the interests of justice or any important matter in the history of our nation have taken place, a lawyer was involved in a significant way."
From the signing of the Declaration to the landmark cases that have molded our society, when it comes to America’s independence and the rights of our citizens, attorneys are the backbone of our justice system.
HISTORY FUN FACTS
Twenty-four lawyers signed the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776, but wasn’t actually signed until nearly a month later.
Out of the Committee of Five who drafted the Declaration - Ben Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston, three were lawyers: Adams, Jefferson and Sherman.
Thomas Jefferson, a lawyer, wrote the majority of the Declaration.
Twenty-five U.S. presidents have been lawyers.
The first law degree issued in the United States was in 1793.
By the end of the American Revolution there was a bar association in each state.
The American Bar Association was formed in 1878 by 75 lawyers from 20 states, guided by Simeon Baldwin, a Connecticut attorney who also played a critical role in drafting the original constitution.
35 Delegates to the Constitutional Convention were lawyers or had legal training.