What Happened To The Original Signers of The Declaration of Independence
Freedom Is Never Free
source: Jack Price, West Point Class of '64
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,
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
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 ...
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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