Happy Fourth of JulyDeclaration of Independence

As I listen to the fireworks outside, I pray that those who are in such a celebratory mood have taken time to read the document that causes us to set July 4th aside — hopefully not just as a holiday or time for a cookout, but a time for reflection as a nation and individuals who are blessed to be living in this great nation called the United States of America.

Above the names of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence are these words “”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.”

Communication 238 years ago was not what it is today — no cell phone, internet, Twitter, Facebook or email. The following information is based on tradition and cannot readily be verified, but I can’t help but think these stories are based on fact. By signing the Declaration of Independence , they instantly became traitors to the British Crown — their government:

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the 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 education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.

Remember: freedom is never free!

Pray for America. She is at a crossroads and God’s people need to step forward as they did in1776.

II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

God Bless America!

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