Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Declaration: What the Signers Sacrificed for Our Freedoms

Our family looks forward to the fourth of July. It is such a festive time and we
enjoy the visits with family and friends. We live in a small town that still offers
a parade and fire works. Living in the west means there is also a rodeo.Yahoo!

We decorate our home and hang out the flag. There is always a watermelon and
a barbecue. As I write, a horse shoe pit is being added to the backyard. All we will
need is some lemonade. One of our favorite family traditions is to make homemade
ice cream using the old hand crank contraption. It's a great time for traditions.


As parents, we have always believed that our children should be aware of their
heritage as Americans. As we partake of the freedoms and privileges of this
great land that we live in, we want our children to be aware of the sacrifices
that were made that afford us these liberties that we, can and do at times, take
for granted.

In teaching these facts of the establishing and founding of our country, it
 plants a patriotism in their hearts. As they have grown older, this patriotism
has turned to a sense of ownership. In the realization of  this ownership,
they have been moved by their conscience to a place responsibility.

The responsibility that falls to each American citizen to use their voice and
resources within their means to protect and uphold the liberties that were
born out of tremendous hardship, sacrifice, heartache and deep conviction.

Following through with this responsibility is the only hope that future generations
have for the protection of these liberties.

As I was searching for something to share with the girls, I came across
this book and read the information following. It touched us deeply and
turned our thoughts toward the signers of the declaration. I thought I would
share it with you.

Here is a book that highlights the lives of the 56 signers. It speaks of the sacrifices
that they and their families made and the hardships that they endured to secure our

 Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed
 the Declaration of Independence

In July 1776, fifty-six men risked their lives and livelihood to defy the British and sign
the most important document in the history of the United States and yet how many of
them do we actually remember? Signing Their Lives Away introduces readers to the
eclectic group of statesmen, soldiers, others who were chosen to sign
this historic document and the many strange fates that awaited them. Some died from
war-related injuries; others had their homes and farms seized by British soldiers; a few
rose to the highest levels of U.S. government (ten signers were later elected to Congress).
George Wythe was murdered by his nephew; Button Gwinnet was killed in a duel; and
of course Sam Adams went on to fame and fortune as a patriot/brewer. Complete with
a reversible parchment jacket (offering a facsimile of the Declaration on the reverse),
Signing Their Lives Away provides an entertaining and enlightening narrative for history
buffs of all ages.

Below are a few details.

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, andhis 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 education. They had
security, but they valued liberty more.

"Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a
conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?
Thomas Jefferson

Interested in purchasing the book? Order it Here

Quotes about our constituion.

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the
people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government."
Patrick Henry

"We, the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to
overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution." 
Abraham Lincoln

I also found a wonderful site called:

  Archiving Early America   Your Window into America's Founding Years..
It offers a wealth of information. There are writings offered here that you won't

find in the American History books. Much of the information is taken from 18th

century materials.

                            Happy Independence Day!

                                      God bless you~

1 comment:

Mikailah said...

That is an amazing post! Thank you for sharing Mommy!
Love you!