Skip to comments.What Happened To The 56 Signers Of The Declaration Of Independence?
Posted on 07/04/2002 5:25:36 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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, 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. Thomas Nelson quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. His own 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 wifes 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.
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 didnt 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 .We shouldnt.
SO TAKE A COUPLE OF MINUTES TO REMEMBER THEIR SACRIFICE SO WE COULD ALL LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY!
-- Author Unknown
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I know that some form of the 56 signers has been on the internet in one way or another but it's still thrilling to read it again!
Freedom Is Worth Fighting For !!
Molon Labe !!
We think of the talents of men like Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Franklin and others as being spectacular. There were men like John Hancock who was undoubtedly a great salesman. There were men like Jefferson whose words on paper could motivate. There were the deep thinkers like Adams who saw things others did not see.
But behind it all was George Washington. George never lost site of a goal. He never failed to achieve them. He was placed in the terrible postion of having fight a war with inferior everything. Yet he defeated the best the British had. How desperate the situation must have seemed at times. He would request food, ammution and pay for his troops and get nothing. How tempted he must have been to give it up, but he stayed, fought and won against terrible odds.
We tend to think of orators as leaders, but Washington was not a writer or an orator, yet he most certainly was a superior leader.
Think of a superb leader with no ambition for royalty. That is a rare breed. After he won the war, he could have been king but he turned it down. Imagine a great leader without the ambtion that drives leaders. He could have been president for life. Yet he served two terms and stepped down. In his presidential years he set the standard. Had that standard been less, this nation would not have survived.
For me one of the most impressive things about Washington was of all the "Conflicted Founders" on slavery, only he did the very honorable thing. Every slave George Washington owned was set free. All were given a stake. They were given enough money to start a free life. The elderly ones were given enough to live on, so they could retire as free men and women.
Washington was thought to be plodding. But of the founders he personally came out the best. He survived with his property intact, and died the richest man in America. Washington was a winner at everthing he tried. He did not fail. He won. And he made it look so very easy.
Washington left no documents of flowing words to stir the soul. He left no stiring speeches or quotes to guide our path. What Washington left was the memory of deeds. Washington motivated men to fight. To die in battle for the cause to which he was committed. He kept men with great ego's and tempers, in check. He kept them working and speaking as friends.
Washington had to be the most confidant of our founders. He had to believe in himself. He had to be strong enough to not be hurt by cruel words. He heard them often in the war. He had to have enough self esteem that he did not need to be king or leader for life. Washington did not need aclaim or power. Yet he handled both very well.
As we look at the rolls each of the founders played, we see that most of these men were not indispensable. Jefferson could have wooed the French as well as Franklin. Madison could have written the Declaration as well as Jefferson. Madison was as deep a thinker as Adams. As you go through the list of all the founders, you will see where none were unique to the cause except Washington. There were two of every other talent.
It is only when you look at the contributions and deeds of Washington what you have trouble finding a substitute. Who but Washington could have kept New England from the throats of Virginians and Vice Versa. Who else could have motivated troops, to stay and fight when it appeared that all was lost.
In recent years there have been detractors. Some fail to see his contribution. They see him as a plodding man with great good luck.
Washington was indeed a great man. He constantly accomplished the impossible, never tooted his own horn, and made it look so very easy. There are many men and women in our midst today with the full talent and abliliies of most of the founders. But Washingtons are few and far between.