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   What happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

HISTORY:

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.
The price of freedom ran high for the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.
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. They were well-educated, and 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 urged General George Washington to open fire, and the home was destroyed. 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.

Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't. Remember: freedom is never free!


Submitted by John Farmer of the American Muslim Council. Original researcher unknown.



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This story was published on July 12, 2003.
  
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