It has been 237 years since a one-page document was issued in Philadelphia that changed the world.
It would be another five years before a British military band, perhaps unwittingly, proclaimed the effect at the Revolution's finale at Yorktown, Va., when it played "The World Turned Upside Down."
We can all hypothesize what this continent and what our individual lives might be like today had not those handful of gentlemen with common complaints and a singular vision of what government should be come together in Philadelphia.
But, what about the world?
Would the dream of an independent democratic republic have been inevitable? Would it have come to fruition somewhere else?
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." It wasn't a new idea; Thomas Jefferson borrowed it from an English philosopher named John Locke. Who is to say it would have never occured to anyone outside these shores to build a government around it?
The what-ifs make interesting parlor conjecture, but the fact is America is what it is, and the world - at leasst the Free World - is what it is because 56 men signed what could have been their collective death warrant. They did it because they believed in the principle.
Some people today denigrate the Founders, pointing out that, indeed, they were a collection of fairly wealthy, white men, some of whom were slave-owners, who put nothing in their subsequent Constitution about slavery or equal rights for women. However, a products of their time, they had the foresight to make their blueprint adjustable.
Through the process of amendment, we have been adjusting it, tweaking it ever since.
The beauty of American democracy is that it is often a messy business. And, that's what a government of the people, by the people and for the people should be.