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.
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..............
We would all be well advised and well served to thank these great men, and it wouldn't hurt to pull out that great document, from time to time, and read it again. These men gave so much, often they gave all, and so many today can not even take the time to exercise their right to vote, bought at such a price. I can only wonder, what these men would say if they could witness the state of our Republic in 1999. I feel they might ask; "When did America lose the war?"