243 years ago, 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence. They envisioned a life better than the one they left overseas. They forged the blueprint for the rights we have today. Twenty four were lawyers, eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and all were men of means. They were well-educated and signed the document knowing that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Here are some of their stories:
Five of them were captured by the British as traitors and were tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons who served in the Revolutionary Army and another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died in that war. They pledged their lives and their fortunes.
Wealthy trader, Carter Braxton, had his ships destroyed by the British Navy. He sold his home and possessions to pay his debts and died destitutely. Thomas McKean fled the British constantly. He served in Congress without pay and kept his family in hiding. He was rewarded with poverty. At the Battle of Yorktown, the home of Thomas Nelson, Jr. was taken over by British General Cornwallis for a headquarters. Nelson urged General Washington to open fire. He saw his home utterly destroyed and later died bankrupt. Francis Lewis’ home was destroyed and his wife imprisoned until she died a few months later. John Hart was forced to leave the bedside of his dying wife. Their 13 children ran for their lives. His land and mill were laid to waste and he lived in forests and caves for more than a year. When he returned home, his wife was dead and all of his children gone. He died heartbrokenly.
Theirs are the sacrifices of the American Revolution. These men were not rebels or trouble makers. They had educations, jobs, and dreams…just as we do. They had security, but liberty was a possession they valued far more. As we ponder all that they have to assure us freedoms they could only dream about, we most definitely owe their memories a heaps portion of gratitude.
More than two centuries later, there are men and women who unselfishly put themselves in danger to ensure that the liberty our forefathers envisioned and fought for is still available to both America and our allies. Today’s modern soldiers are instrumental in preserving the principles that our country was founded upon. Together with their families, they carry the torch of conviction that illuminates the hope those 56 men shared together on July 4, 1776.
The Spectator is unapologetic and fervent in its support of the United States Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy.