I decided to postpone for a day my thoughts from my sermon Sunday, since today is Independence Day. I don’t suspect much traffic (which is okay since I myself will probably be scarce), but I thought I would help you (and me) remember the price paid for our Independence over 235 years ago. You may have heard or read of this already but if it helps one person to see, then it will have been worth it.
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 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 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 Congress without pay, 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 the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General 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 field and gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and 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 valued liberty more.
They gave you and me a free and independent America. Some of us take these liberties for granted…We shouldn’t. So, take some time to celebrate and while you are enjoying your 4th of July celebration, take a few minutes and thank God for these patriots who paid the price to set the whole Independence idea in motion.
FREEDOM IS NEVER FREE…LET’S NEVER FORGET THAT!!