This is the Price They Paid (reposted from 2021)

What happened to the signers?

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 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 or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, 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. The owner 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, 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.” 

By Michael W Smith

Comment (2021): They knew there would be no forgiveness for them. They knew full well what the Hanoverians had done to the Jacobites 31 years before after the Highlander defeat at Culloden. pl

Comment (2023): Ah those words. Those magnificently chilling and inspiring words where those men mutually pledged to each other their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in the pursuit of the cause of liberty. And those words weren’t just meant to inspire the “little people” back home to do the fighting. Those fifty-six men took those words into their hearts to fight, to suffer and to die shoulder to shoulder with their fellow citizens.

Such a concept seems quaint today. To share in the strife and sacrifices, the sorrows and joys of the pursuit of those ideals with our neighbors and countrymen seems foolish to our nation of self-absorbed and self-described victims. We must rekindle that spirit. We must rekindle that sacred honor.


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11 Responses to This is the Price They Paid (reposted from 2021)

  1. TTG says:

    In 2019, Colonel Lang also posted an essay similar to this one by Michael W. Smith. At that time he added this comment:

    “I had a lot of ancestors in that war, some Continentals, some militia. One man in Boston raised his own regiment of militia at his own expense. He commanded it throughout the war. A lot of the soldiers among the signers were old broken down grunts by the end, They made new lives for themselves. I revere their memory. pl “

    • blue peacock says:


      To paraphrase Col. Lang, – we are not the men our fathers were. Honor as a social construct has long vanished. Today, the majority are so easily fearful that our authoritarian state can continuously pull a new “emergency” to strip more and more liberty that the only liberty we have remaining is an illusion. We have for all intents & purposes a powerful and authoritarian state which is the antithesis of what these signers sacrificed so much for. As Pogo said, we have met the enemy and he is us.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        The powers running things have ensured that the spirit of the American people has been broken, with associated concepts, like honor, forever erased from their minds and souls, collectively and individually. Ubiquitous next-gen AI will make it even worse and the last hold-outs will be identified and dealt with once and for all.

        The last thing the government and its corporate and Chinese buddies want is a free, united and empowered people. Now, at long last, the fascists have all the tools necessary to crush independence without hardly ever firing a shot. It starts in early childhood, before a free will can even form. The people will be completely manipulated by algorithms as they suck off the digital tit, into perpetuity.

      • Sam says:


        Today, the majority are so easily fearful that our authoritarian state can continuously pull a new “emergency” to strip more and more liberty that the only liberty we have remaining is an illusion.

        Indeed. 9/11 & Covidian “emergencies”demonstrated it in spades.

        Happy Independence Day nonetheless!

    • billy roche says:

      But I was taught that the founding fathers were a bunch of old white men (the horror, the horror) with stupid whigs, lots of money, and no courage. Signers and soldiers got little from the new govt. It had little (except Indian lands which cost the govt nothing) to give. What the American militia and continentals got was the liberty to live as free men. Like Ukrainians today, they thought that was worth risking every thing. In Virginia, 1775, Patrick Henry had something to say about that. If you don’t know it, go Duckduckgo and read it yourself. Enjoy our Independence day everyone.

      • TTG says:

        billy roche,

        One of the old books that came with our 1840s former glebe house was a memorial edition of the loss of the Titanic. It was part of my reading when I was very young. A point that was emphasized and made very clear that all those rich robber baron white men had a sacred duty to go down with the ship rather than take a lifeboat seat from a woman or child. I still remember Isidor and Ida Straus who refused a seats in the lifeboats. John Jacob Astor did the same. There were other rich old white men who chose death over dishonor. They were of a privileged class, who expected their privilege, but retained a sense of duty and honor to allow society to function. On the other hand, there was Joseph Bruce Ismay, who got a seat in a lifeboat and survived. Given the circumstances, the opprobrium he received may not have been fair, but he was branded a spineless coward for the rest of his life.

        I was young and impressionable when I read that book. The absolute necessity of a sense of honor and duty stayed with me. Those without honor or a spine have always been with us and will always be with us. We need a critical mass of honorable, duty bound men and women to function as a society. It is a struggle, maybe even a lost cause, but as we have often said here recently, we shall continue with style.

  2. Eliot says:


    I think that culture is going away and it will be forever. You do have remnants of it, it’s what I grew up with, but it will die with us. The national culture is driven by the north east education system, which in turn influences the rest of the colleges and universities in America, and the two media giants, New York and Hollywood. And on top of that you have the massive influx of immigrants with their own separate values. This world has very little in common with colonial America.

    The revolutionaries value system was also very specifically English, and it was rooted in middle class and upper class thinking.

    – Eliot

  3. Poppa Rollo says:

    TTG, you are asking for the impossible. “We must rekindle that spirit. We must rekindle that sacred honor.” The difficulty lies in the context. The founders had a completely different milieu. For them freedom had a clear goal, to be able to make their own choices and their own lives free of the monarchy. They had what they considered to be a completely open continent. They were able to conceive of the discontents moving elsewhere, somewhere out there.
    The American dream died when the west was fenced in.
    America is now having to learn to come to terms with constraints, the need for accommodation. To live in themselves, to find freedom in their own existence instead of dead words uttered in another place at another time.

    • Babeltuap says:

      Once the full frontal assault on free speech by the “ladder kickers” as I call them ramp-ed up that was it for me. I cancelled them along with their masks laws, vaccine laws, sports kneeling and box stores that got to stay open the entire pandemic.

      Funny thing is there is a massive army of us out here. Rarely hear about it but we are still here and growing. Yesterday my clan had their own neighborhood 4th of July parade. Not a town parade but neighborhood. We don’t care what the town does. They are not invited and need an ID to get a brisket meal. cookout.

  4. drifter says:

    I recommend posting mainly about the war in Ukraine. This blog historically was about what military force could genuinely/actually accomplish. “Politics by other means.”

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