Celebrating Our Independence
What Happened to the 56 Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence?
• 5 were captured by the British as prisoners of war.
• 12 had their homes ransacked and burned.
• 1 lost his son serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
• 9 died during the course of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What Kind of Men Were They?
• 24 were lawyers and jurists.
• 11 were merchants.
• 9 were farmers and large plantation owners.
They were all 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 seized by the
British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts.
• Thomas McKean 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.
• Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Ellery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett,
Heyward, Rutledge and Middleton.
• Robert Morris loaned his wealth to the government to pay for the war.
The loan was never recovered and what was left of his fortune
was lost to land speculation. He died in poverty.
• Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.
The enemy jailed his wife, and she died in captivity.
• All of Lewis Morris’ property and wealth was destroyed in the revolution.
He spent the last several years of his life rebuilding his farm.
• 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, 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.”
They gave us a free and independent America.
Take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently
thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.
Remember: Freedom Is Never Free • Happy Independence Day