The 4th of Julygreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
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 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 the 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 while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.
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.
-- Ra (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 28, 2000
Right on, Ra!
I just came from the movie "Patriot" and I am fired up.
-- JoseMiami (email@example.com), June 28, 2000.
Good stuff Ra. Thanks.
A pity Mexico didn't have 56 such men in 1821.
-- Carlos (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 29, 2000.
Let me just say that the myth is that, as a liberal (even a fairly radical liberal) I am not supposed to appreciate the sacrifice, the abilities or the astounding intellectual penetration of the Founding fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Declaration remains one of the most electrifying and important documents ever written. It bears witness to the founding of a movement for democracy that has defined the start of a new era since the day it was written. It has been the most potent document for enunciating the principles that overthrew the old era of aristocracy in support of monarchy and establishing the new era of human rights and inate freedoms.
I have seen copies of the Declaration framed on the walls of ordinary people in every country I have ever visited. It is a breathtaking achievement, an inspiration, and a golden mark at which every civilized nation still aims, including ours. Just because we have not fullfilled the entire promise of Thomas Jefferson's words is no reason to turn our back on them.
I happen to think that, by adhering to a rational form of liberalism, I am pursuing the purest stream of the thought started on July 4, 1776 by those 56 signers. I would never dream of saying the Declaration of Independence does not represent my highest aspirations for our nation.
You conservatives and libertarians may claim it for your own. My claim is as strong as yours, if not stronger. Every thinking person claims it. That is its beauty.
-- Brian McLaughlin (email@example.com), June 29, 2000.
Thanks Ra, I had no idea those men suffered such tragedies for their great sacrifices. The Declaration means even more now that I know more of the history.
Brian, I'm with you. Those men knew what rational liberalism was. They were liberal with their time, fortunes and even their lives, and rational enough to realize that if they didn't take a stand America would be just another colonial jewel in England's crown.
-- gilda (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 29, 2000.
Great posts you guys!
I notice it stated that those men were fighting their own govt who were still serving the British. Tell me...what do you think would transpire in the present day? Would these men be killed or jailed by our govt, FBI, law enforcement, as traitors? Would their meeting place be tear-gassed, riddled with gunfire, and blown to kingdom come?
-- cin (email@example.com), June 29, 2000.
Thank you, Ra. And very nice posts down the thread, too. Thanks.
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For protecting them by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren.
We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.
We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.
They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare.
That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown,
and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved;
and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce,
and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
The signers of the Declaration represented the new States as follows: New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
-- eve (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 29, 2000.
Thanks Ra. Nicely done. It is so easy to forget (or never know) our own history. There has been a good series this week on Discovery channel about the American Revolution. I hope it is repeated.
-- Lars (email@example.com), June 29, 2000.
It is interesting to read the list of names as it relates to personal history. When this document was signed, my family had been here for 149 years (give or take a few to account for record keeping at that time). No family names appear and as far as I know no family members fought in this war on either side. A bunch of pacifists you say. From the limited documents that I have seen at least one ancestor lived in an area so remote that he didn't know there was a revolution until it was nearly over. I am told that there was no internet at the time. :^)
I think that there were many people who were neither for or against the revolution. They were just trying to survive. Some things never change.....
-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), June 29, 2000.
One side of my family was living here before the revolution. In fact I have a copy of an old will, made in 1774, with the bequests listed in pounds, shillings, horses, livestock and property, but at the bottom is an addendum saying, "...or what ever currency is in use at the time of my death."
One of my ancestors was on the side of the revolutionists, but was captured early on and spent a lot of time chained in a barn, until he made an escape. Unfortunately, that's the sum total of what I know. One of my aunts was longing to join the D.A.R. and did a lengthy search of the records and sent me copies of the wills, suggesting I would be less than American if I did not join the D.A.R. But not being a joiner, I declined, although I found the wills historically interesting. I particularly enoyed the bequest of, One Bay Mare named Nancy to my beloved daughter Nancy.
-- gilda (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 29, 2000.
This is a great post! I take back some, well, at least a few, of the bad things that I've said about you...
-- Sysman (email@example.com), June 29, 2000.
High on our family to do list this holiday weekend is viewing Mel Gibsons, The Patriot. I Just received my monthly issue of The Smithsonian and on the cover is a shot from the making of the movie. Turns out the museum was heavily involved as authenticators to duplicate the visuals of the era. One review said that this is a re- heat of Braveheart with a colonial twist. As you might imagine the good people of merry olde England are cast as the heavies, with a Hollywood twist here and there. I find it somewhat ironic that the two male leads are Aussies, Mel and the young actor that plays his son. I fear the overwhelming effects displayed on-screen may hide the true flavor of the times. Report will follow next week.
-- The (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 30, 2000.
FWIW, fan.attic, Mel Gibson was born in New York state; his parents emigrated to Australia when he was in his early teens; and he never changed his citizenship. He was, and is, an American citizen. Now back to the regularly scheduled good stuff. Sorry to interrupt.
-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), June 30, 2000.