“That one day these American colonies shall be free and independent of all British rule, and that our safe and happy progeny shall construct for themselves and others potent and distinguished carriages, powered by the natural sciences, and that they shall be awesome, and that they shall burn rubber, and shred, and perform many donuts, and imagine themselves to impress women.”
– Original Draft, U.S. Declaration of Independence
No one really knows what went on during the original drafting of the Declaration of Independence. When the First Continental Congress spent two days editing the proposed draft, Thomas Jefferson was reportedly furious. I’m guessing it’s because they chopped out his bit about muscle cars. I mean, Jefferson was a brilliant guy. He must have foreseen the advent of the American car, right?
As I pondered these deep and troubling questions (whose current-day political implications are manifold), I started thinking of something vastly more silly: What if the founding fathers had owned cars themselves? What would they have registered with the British Department of Motorized Vehicular Conveyances, Foreign Office?
Of course, we already know what George Washington drove – a fat, black Dodge Challenger, as proven by this historical record. But Washington was a military commander at the time. The real founding fathers were all sweating in their wigs in a building in Philly. When they’d finally decided to give war a chance, they chose a Committee of Five to draw up the document.
Here are my best guesses as to what would have been found in the Declaration House parking lot:
Robert R. Livingston – Poor Robert never got to vote on the Declaration. He was a delegate from New York, the only colony who abstained, as their provincial congress was unable to give instructions while fleeing from their lives from the British. But Robert was resolute, a true advocate of independence. He survived the war and spent much of the rest of his life as the Chancellor of New York, the highest judicial rank in the land. His name became synonymous with the title.
Livingston, of course, would have driven a Pontiac GTO Judge. It was loud and intimidating like the first functional steam boat that Livingston helped develop with Robert Fulton. And it came with a Hurst T-grip shifter that could easily double as a gavel.
Benjamin Franklin – There’s a reason Franklin’s face is on a $100 bill. He was a playboy. He was the guy who would have been pounding the dance floor and tossing those Benjamins into the air. But he was also a scientist. He experimented with everything from music to electricity.
His ride has to be a Tesla Model S. Franklin loved his luxuries, and a Model S is packed with them. He was also an avid inventor, like Elon Musk. The Model S is powered by electricity, so if he was in an area of early colonial America without a Tesla Supercharger or a battery swap station, he could have just flown his kite with the key on it during a thunderstorm. Key goes in the ignition, and the car’s instantly charged. That’s how that works, folks. It’s called technology. Ben Franklin gets me.
Roger Sherman – The delegate from Massachusetts, Sherman is a little-known but remarkable player in this drama, as he had no formal education but was nonetheless brilliant and quick to learn. Thomas Jefferson called him “a man who never said a foolish thing in his life.” This was the guy who later came up with the idea for the two houses of congress, so population centers and states would be represented equally. He started humbly, making shoes and running a general store, yet he became the only man to sign all four great state documents in the US: the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution.
You get there by learning, and I think Sherman, once the general store started raking in the bucks, would have sprung for a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The ZL1’s engineers learned much about downforce, and its magneo-magic suspension learns about the bumps in the road so you get a better ride. In just a few years, the ZL1 went from being a lowly extra in Michael Bay movies to one of the best muscle cars America has ever known.
John Adams – Adams was a man of two worlds, or rather, of two estates. He split his time between working his farm in the country and practicing law in Boston, effectively starting the American legal tradition of spreading crap around. He was a humble man, but not quiet, unyielding on the issue of liberty and willing to speak up about it at every opportunity.
I think he would have chosen a third generation Chevy El Camino, with an LS6 displacing 454 cubic inches for an insane 450 hp. It was practical and utilitarian for the farm, loud and unforgettable for Boston, and fast enough to get back and forth between them in no time.
Thomas Jefferson – Now we come to the pen man himself. Adams selected Jefferson to come up with the bulk of the Declaration before they all met again for revision. Jefferson was devoted to the idea of revolution, and after the American Revolution spent time in France experiencing their own.
I’m going to call his ride the Ford GT40, which also spent time in France, and which was also revolutionary in every way. It wasn’t quiet like Jefferson, but it did end up governing the whole sports car world, just as he governed America.
So it’s clear that all five drafters of the Declaration of Independence loved American cars. And why wouldn’t they? They loved freedom. Happy 4th, everybody. Now go do some burnouts as our founding fathers intended.