Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Today is our independence holiday.

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. History rarely records what happened to some of them.

Five signers were captured by the British charged as traitors and were tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons who were serving in the Revolutionary Army, and another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought in the war and died from wounds or hardships caused by the war.

These men were not ruffians or rabble-rousers; they were well-spoken men of means and education.

Twenty-four of the 56 were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants, and nine were large plantation owners.

All of them signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Signer Carter Braxton, a wealthy planter, and trader died in rags.

The properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge and Middleton were looted.

Thomas Nelson Jr. and Thomas McKeam died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis’s wife was jailed, and she died there.

John Hart had to flee his dying wife’s bedside. His children fled for their lives. He died of exhaustion. Norris and Livingston had to hide out in the forest and live in caves.

I wonder how many people today would in the words of the Declaration of Independence, “mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,” all for the sake of freedom.

Thank you, patriots, of the past for the liberty we enjoy and celebrate today.

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