This story by Clyde E. Nichols was in a weekly publication sent to me by my Austin, Texas friend, Jim Gentil. It’s a powerful reminder of the sort of dedication and courage it took to create this country and the freedom it represents. More than that, it continues to be a lesson to us all that freedom isn’t free, and that we must be willing to protect and defend what has been purchased in blood. I hope you will share with others this piece entitled, “56 Courageous Men: When Freedom 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.
When Freedom Isn’t Free
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.
Monday, July 4th, 2016, marks the 240th anniversary of the birth of our nation. Along with the fifty-six who signed for each of us, let us all “mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” ###