I laugh at myself because whenever I think about the word 'sober' I think 'not being drunk.' I guess it’s just a testament to the society and culture I'm surrounded by. Naturally, I don't think Martin Diamond was referring to the ability of our founding fathers to hold their alcohol, but I do believe there is something to be said about not being drunk.
With all the excitement, words, and ideas hovering in the political atmosphere of the era leading up to the Revolutionary War, I imagine it would have been hard not to become drunken with the idea that once independence was declared all would be well.
Here’s where the ‘sober expectations’ come in. The founding fathers knew that much would be unwell once the colonies declared independence. These men knew we didn’t have the military training, the goods, or the resources for a war that would be fought on our own soil, destroying farms, homes and cities.
They also knew that by signing that document they were not only risking their own honor, but also their family’s honor and ability to survive. Supposing the men who signed the Declaration of Independence had been captured, they would have been charged with treason and executed. This would have left their families with no support and no way to gain support because of the reputation that would be associated with them in this honor-shame society.
These men had no way of knowing we would win the Revolutionary War, but they believed so strongly in the principals of consent of the governed and that their liberty was being impeded on that they decided to take that risk. These men stood up for what they believed in through the hardest, most threatening of circumstances despite the likelihood of failure that they all recognized. They also recognized the problems that would lie ahead if they did succeed. How do you establish a viable nation? The war was not really won until we had a successful union of states.
These men did not allow themselves to become drunk with the idea that independence was the end. They knew it was a mean to an end, but also that their end goal was likely not to be achieved. Our level-headed founding fathers remained sober.