Our Elusive Declaration
I have been working with a Virgo rising horoscope for the U.S. Declaration of Independence since early 1982, but most astrologers remain wedded to a Gemini or Sagittarius rising chart. I was surprised and delighted when I received the November-December 1988 journal of the Astrological Association of Great Britain to see an article supporting a morning vote. The author, Ronald W. Howland, starts with the evidence which I used but he adds much more historical information, including a logical suggestion to account for Jefferson’s discrepant journal which places the action in the early evening. Howland offers a speculative time of 10:40 A.M. which is just over an hour later than the 9:36 A.M. EST that I have been working with. Obviously, he has never seen my work. I may send him a copy of my article which appeared in an NCGR Journal since it is more complete than the final chapter in Expanding Astrology’s Universe or the bits and pieces which I include now and then in The Mutable Dilemma or in Asteroid-World.
To summarize the evidence, a collection of letters published by the Library of Congress includes one describing decisions concerning the New York and New Jersey militia. The significant part of the letter is that the action of the Continental Congress occurred during the morning of July 4, 1776, and it was the third item of business after the decision about the Declaration of Independence. The Congress met at 9 A.M. and the Declaration was the second item of business in the official record, following a matter which would not have taken very long. Other records report that most of the work on the Declaration had been completed on the preceding two days, so only minor decisions on wording remained for July 4. I think these facts support a time of 9:30 to 10 A.M., but the exact minute remains speculative. I can only insist that all of the techniques of which I have knowledge do support the 11 Virgo rising chart.
Howland adds historical information which I had not seen. He writes of Jefferson’s notes, “The only known certainty is that they were written sometime between August 1776 and June 1783. (Letter of Delegates. May-August 1776, p. 164nn.). Jefferson’s notes are known to be peppered with errors, and almost certainly were written from memory.” p. 319
Mr. Paul Smith, the Editor of the Letters of Delegates, pointed out to Howland at least fifteen examples of the consistent accuracy of the Congressional Secretary, Charles Thomson, when his original notes were compared to the later printed records of procedures. Apparently, all current scholars put their confidence in Thomson’s records rather than Jefferson’s.
According to Howland, the official Journal states that directly after the passing of the declaration it was “Ordered, that the declaration be ... printed. That the committee appointed to prepare the declaration, superintend and correct the press.” p. 322 Howland suggests that it is possible that Jefferson (who was the principle writer of the document) spent the rest of the day overseeing the preparation for printing. The members of the original committee on the declaration were Jefferson, Franklin, Livingston, Sherman and Adams. Livingston and Franklin were included in the committee described in the crucial letter (re the militia in NY and NJ) which supports the morning action on the declaration. Livingston wrote and attended to the printing and dispatching of that letter, which was not completed until 10 P.M. that night. Franklin was also still in Congress to receive instructions later in the day, after the Livingston letter was finished. It seems reasonable to me that if Jefferson spent the day on the declaration, his later notes might easily have stemmed from his memory of when he finished the project.
My heartfelt thanks to Ronald Howland for his painstaking research in our records, and cheers for a Virgo rising chart with Uranus on the MC and Dembowska on the Descendant (if my time is right).