|America's founders sign 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 who were serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six signers fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They had signed the Declaration of Independence and 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 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 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 Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, and Rutledge.
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 thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill 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.
As you enjoy this Fourth of July holiday, remember the sacrifices of the first American patriots. Say a prayer for them, for the troops who are defending our freedom throughout the world, and for the United States of America.
Charles M. Grist
Note: My thanks to Logan Barbee for sending me this information.