EVERY signer of our Declaration of Independence was facing a death penalty if caught — not just for himself, but for his entire family.
England, at the time, was THE world power and would not have treasonous members in their Colonies.
The lack of compassion of King George III before July 4, 1776 would only be stiffened and tested sorely for the next 8 years.
Most of the signers were well to do at the time of the signing, most were near if not totally penniless by the time we won our Independence.
13 Colonies voted, 56 men signed…
5 signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
12 had their homes ransacked and burned.
2 lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had 2 sons captured.
9 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?
24 were lawyers and jurists
11 were merchants
9 were farmers and large plantation owners
They were 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.
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 fortunes, and
our sacred honor.”
Given the enormity that they knew was before them, the had to rely on something bigger that all of it – divine Providence.
Did they also had mentors that guided them?
They are due our utmost respect and honor.
And truthfully, I have yet to watch this segment of the movie without breaking down.
Remember from whence we came
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