We celebrate the Declaration of Independence in America this
week. For many it is just a long weekend get-away. For the patriotic it is a day
for remembering and to be thankful for those founding fathers who risked everything
to produce a document declaring they would no longer tolerate the treatment they
received from an absent ruler in England.
If you haven't read
The Declaration of Independence (or not since you were in grade school) take the time to
click on the previous link to the Library of Congress transcription of it. There may be things
you never realized were there, or like me had forgotten.
We all take for granted the dedication of those who drafted and signed the 'Declaration' but few
know what happened to those who did so. The following was sent to me by Steven McGarthwaite.
One more time, Freedom is not Free.
"Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed
the Declaration of
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 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 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. 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 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 about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't fight just 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, but we shouldn't.
Take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently
thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.
Remember: Freedom is never free!
It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin and
the Fourth of July is more than beer, picnics and baseball games."
Amen. ~ LadyFisher
In honor of all those who served in the United States Military we bring
you the original poem, which has
become the "Navy Hymn." To hear it sung by the U.S. Navy Band's Sea
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