Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Here are some of their stories.
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. These were men of means, well educated. Most would have continued to lead comfortable lives under the status quo British government. But they valued liberty far more than their own security and 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 McKean was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and he too died a pauper. Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. Their fortunes were ruined.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. Yet he quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home, his entire estate, was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt and in rags. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and in prison she died. 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. He never saw any of his sons or daughters again, for a few weeks later he died penniless. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were these sacrifices of the American Revolution. Such were these sacrifices for freedom. These men were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were not 'radicals' as our children are nowadays taught. They were not eager to sever the ties of emotional, cultural, financial, and military security afforded by their British citizenship. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more.
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." For these men this was not flowery prose. Character and integrity were not 'issues' back then. They were bred through sacrifice and hard work, through risk and life-long toil. These men gave their lives, and the lives of beloved wives, sons, and daughters, to a just cause. They gave their word, then they stood by it. The character they showed IS the backbone of our freedom.
Thank you for all that information. Kinda makes you wonder that some of the people in the new Iraqi Government will likely experience the same for their freedom. My hope is that the former Coalition will do their best to protect them from that.