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> The Declaration of Independence
>
> 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 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. 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 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, 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 divine providence, we mutually pledge to
> each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
>
> They gave 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 this year 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!
>
> Author unknown
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