Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4th, 1776 and the Declaration of Independence

A total of 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence.

Five of the 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 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their honor.

What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.
Eleven were merchants.
Nine were farmers and large plantation owners.
These were men of means who were 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.

Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton had their properties looted by vandals or soldiers.

Thomas Nelson, Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters during the battle of Yorktown. Nelson 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. They had security, but they valued liberty 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 you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted...We shouldn't.

So, take a couple of minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid...

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