Friday, July 13, 2007

A Moment to Remember

It's well past Independence Day, but just recently got this e-mail and decided to post it. I am a history buff, and I knew some of this;can't attest to the validity of all of it, but it sounds about right. I can't imagine mainstream men OR women of education and property doing such a thing today, with a clear idea of the risks they took. Sometimes, it is good to remember. I deleted three paragraphs at the end that did not deal with the history.

Subject: 56 men signed
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 o f Dillery Hall, Clymer,
Walton, Gwinett, 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 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 and straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For
the support of the 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."

~Author Unknown~

2 comments:

Merry Jelinek said...

Thank you for posting this. I never really thought all that much about what they must be giving up - but when you do realize that these were the elite, that their lives were comfortable without the revolution and the ideals of governing our own country with liberty and freedom were worth more to them than their comfort...

Well, that's a much larger testiment to these men than the money and properties they would have left behind.

night lightning woman said...

Thank you. You've just eloquently expressed what I felt, too.