On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress takes the first step toward American independence by opening American ports to international trade with any part of the world that is not under British rule, in response to the punishing American Prohibitory Act passed by British parliament in December 1775.

Resolved, That all goods, wares, and merchandise, except such as are made prize of, which shall be imported directly or indirectly from Great Britain or Ireland, into any of these United Colonies, contrary to the regulations established by Congress, shall be forfeited and disposed of, agreeable to such rules as shall be made by the several assemblies or conventions, and shall be liable to prosecution and condemnation in any court erected, or to be erected, for the determination of maritime affairs, in the colony where the seizure shall be made.

Benjamin was a delegate of that Continental Congress, and and the Constitutional Convention he resolved “that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”

That quote inspired the artwork for one of our first t-shirts, pictured here:

Benjamin Franklin “See… God Governs” closeup

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