WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM?
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
-Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died.
-Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
-Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.
-Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they?
-Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
-Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
-Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
-Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
-At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
-Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
-John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.
-Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education strengthened by the love and support of equally courageous women. They had security and love, but they valued liberty for their families more.
Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged:
“For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
They gave each of us a free and independent America.
The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn’t just fight the British. We were British subjects, or secondary citizens, at that time and we fought our own government!
Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn’t. So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July Holiday and silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.
Remember: Freedom is never free.
It’s hard to fathom what these people did so long ago. Ask yourself:
Could you sign your own death warrant in the name of freedom? Could you sign your children’s death warrant? Could you stand to loose all that you had worked so hard for in the name of a dream, not even a guarantee, of freedom for your family and your neighbors? In these modern days, I doubt that such bravery, vision and thirst for freedom exists. We have become a society of takers believing that comfort is a given. In fact, our freedoms of today are as a direct result of these men and women, our forefathers, making a collective stand in the face of certain death in order to establish our birthright……..freedom.