this year marks 232 years since our founding fathers gave us our national birth certificate – The Declaration of Independence. we continue to be the longest ongoing constitutional republic in the history of the world. blessings such as these are not by chance or accidental. they are blessings of God.
have you ever wondered what happened to those 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 all signed and they all 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 and well educated. but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing that the penalty would be death if they were captured. here are some individual stories:
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 insurgents. they were soft-spoken family men of means and education. they had security but they valued liberty more. and the price they paid was steep.
Lexington Green in Massachusetts, was the first official conflict of the American Revolutionary War. captain parker and his militiamen faced the british army on the spot. “stand your ground. don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here” were the captain’s immortal words to his men on the 19th of April in 1775.
one of the best visual depictions of the American Revolutionary War is the movie “The Patriot.” turn up the sound and cheer loudly at the end!
the price paid for liberty in blood and treasure is high and painful. but the return is priceless: freedom to live and thrive and pursue happiness as we choose. as always, a thank you to those who have served and those who serve today.