Happy Fourth of July

I sent an email earlier today wishing a fun and safe Independence Day to various members of the blogging community who have given their time and encouragement to me since I started TGP.  Bob Bennett, whose firm sponsors Bad Prosecutors, replied with the following essay from his newsletter about the fate of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Because, as John Adams wrote in a July 3, 1776, letter to his wife, the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations [i.e., fireworks] from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more[,]” I added some amazing photographs of fireworks that I found here.  Though not exhaustive, search AmericanTowns’ list of local 2009 Fourth of July firework shows, events and parades to find a live event near you.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Fireworks Celebration Over The Space Needle
Fireworks Celebration Over The Space Needle © Kevin N. McNeal)

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.

Fourth of July
Fourth of July © Josh Anon)

Happy 10th Anniversary BP
(Happy 10th Anniversary BP © KHAWLA Haddad)

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. [This alone makes me proud to be a lawyer.] 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. [Emphasis mine.]

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.

Forever free
(Forever free © Dale Gast)

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.

Flowers of Fire
(Flowers of Fire © The  Italian  Eye )

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinett, 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.

(Hanabi © Tracey Taylor)

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 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.

(MS-2503 © Jim Zuckerman)

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 and straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of the 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 told you a lot of 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.

New Year at Seattle Center (#1)
(New Year at Seattle Center (#1) © Inge Johnsson)

Remember: Freedom is never free! 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.

~Author Unknown~
Contributed by: Harry Updegraff, Jr.

Tags: Independence Day, Fourth of July


2 Responses

  1. i hope you and all of your readers have a safe and fun fourth of july, e.m.

    • Thanks, Nonnie, from all 8 of us.

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