Jim Gentil, my friend in Austin, Texas, has been sending me powerfully encouraging newsletters twice a week for a couple of decades now. This story by Clyde E. Nichols was in a recent publication. It grabbed my heart as well as my attention. I’d like to pass it on to you as a reminder that taking a stand for what one sees as being right can be costly. Freedom, of course, isn’t free. –JDS
On July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, 56 delegates to the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence declaring independence from Great Britain and giving birth to the United States of America. Have you ever wondered what happened to those men? Here are a few examples:
Carter Broxton was a wealthy trader who saw his ships sunk by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rags.
Thomas Nelson, Jr. of Virginia raised two million dollars by mortgaging his property to supply the French allies. He was never reimbursed by the struggling new government and lost everything he owned.
Thomas McKeam’s possessions were taken from him by the British and poverty was his reward. Vandals and enemy soldiers looted the properties of Josiah Bartlett, William Ellery, George Clymer, Lyman Hall, Button Gwinnet, George Walton, Thomas Heward, Jr., Edward Rutledge and Arthur Middleton; the latter four were captured and imprisoned.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. A Tory betrayed Richard Stockton, his home was burned, his possessions destroyed and he and his family were forced to live on charity.
John Hart returned home to find his wife dead and his 13 children vanished. Weeks later he died of exhaustion and a broken heart. Lewis Morris and Philip Livingston suffered fates similar to Hart’s. John Hancock, one of the wealthiest men in New England, lost his fortune during the war having given over $100,000 to the cause of freedom.
Five of the fifty-six were captured by the British and tortured. Twelve had their homes ransacked, looted, confiscated by the enemy, or burned to the ground. Seventeen lost their fortunes.
Two lost their sons in the army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six lost their lives in the war from wounds or hardships inflicted by the enemy. Despite their hardships, not a single one of them defected or failed to honor his pledge. They paid a terrible price for our freedom.
Saturday, July 4th, 2015, marks the 239th anniversary of the birth of our nation. Along with the fifty-six who signed for us, let us “mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
If we will, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “This nation shall have a new birth of freedom and government of the people, for the people and by the people shall not perish from the earth.” ###