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by Mary Needham

Have you ever wondered 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.

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, 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
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 head-quarters.
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, 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 to you and me, a free and independent America.
The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the
Revolutionary War. We didn't fight just the British.
We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government!

Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't.
So 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!

I hope you will show your support by please sending this to as many
people as you can. It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT
a sin and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer, picnics, and
baseball games.

Mary Needham
Reserve Technology Inst.