Across Pacific & Asia

Is Freedom Free ?

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the
American "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

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 fougnt 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.  Remember: freedom is never free!

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