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: 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
Thank you. Somehow I did not know this. Half the signers paid with their lives or their fortunes.
Thank you for this reminder, may these Patriots Rest In Peace; and may their brave example galvanize our own resolve.
Thank you for this post.
Very inspiring stories. Happy 4th to everyone from an English-born American!
They valued liberty more. Four beautiful words. Happy July 4th everyone.
How brave and self-sacrificing they were. Thank you for this reminder of the tremendous prices they paid to gain freedom for America. It’s shameful that so many take it for granted, even worse that others want to revoke it. I’m thankful today and every day for those who have fought, and those who continue to fight, for the precious gift of freedom.
I trace my roots to one of those names, devastated and broken at the end but nobly did the right thing when first called. It was a family name I have long cherished, and tried to live up to in my own embrace of civic affairs.
Fourth of the July – by the numbers – comparing now and then for various tributes to this day – scary one was the significant drop in numbers “Proud to be an American” in just the last decade (Thank you woke K-12 ad CRT):
That by far was the “Greatest Generation”
So the founding Fathers exchanged
Articles of Confederation to
Federalism? The result is now another
More pernicious form of tyranny?
I add my thanks for this post.
Peter Williams is an Australian.
Australians have some reason to find it difficult to fathom, their situation was so very different. The abos were few and easily subdued. There were no French/Spanish/Great Power intrigues, and mostly there were no great natural resources worth exploiting over the distances they would’ve had to travel back to The King. The boot on their necks seems to have been correspondingly light.
They were American Aristocrats who wanted to evade the very minor taxes that Britain was imposing for their defence. Nothing more, nothing less. They lost, so what, but their legend lives on. Glorifying them does no good, they weren’t good people, they were criminals under British law, or is law totally flexible?
They were British, until they decided they would no longer be so for the reasons given, plus some. Their “posterity” bailed out the British, twice. The Aussies at least once.
Brothers and Sisters this is truly amazing. Never was I taught this in school. Let us pray for this precious freedom to remain in the US that these men fought and died for. Let us share with any who will listen to how important freedom truly is. Let us remember it is a gift always from God almighty who rewards his faithful people. It could have gone either way but God rewarded the faith of the people of the US.