As we approach the Independence Day holiday, it's only fitting that we celebrate the individuals who had the fortitude and foresight to create the greatest country in the world. While you're celebrating with BBQs, beer and parties, take a moment to remember that our founding fathers, and every soldier since, fought for your rights and liberties. So, here are some interesting facts about the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence.
Twenty-four were lawyers / jurists.
Eleven were merchants.
Nine were farmers and large plantation owners.
Five 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 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
And while many know of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, John Adams, and other famous signers . . . here is what happened to several of the lesser known ones...
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.
Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge, and Middleton had their properties looted by vandals or soldiers.
Thomas Nelson Jr., at the battle of Yorktown, 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 or war hungry, 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."
So, every July 4th, take a moment to silently remember these first USA patriots for doing what was needed, regardless of consequences to themselves. And do the same for all of the heroes who have followed them, as their noble efforts allow us to continue to celebrate Independence Day as it was meant to be!
Freedom is priceless, as its costs are the lives given valiantly to have it.