More than two centuries have past since that fateful year, 1776, when America and it’s thirteen colonies declared their independence from England on July the 4th. A lot of Americans can recall the paragraph in THE DECLARATION, about certain inalienable rights, but few remember the somber tone of the paragraph and sentence. “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, our sacred Honor.”
Each 4th of July we have fireworks displays, barbecues and we take advantage of the 3 to 4 day holiday to enjoy ourselves.
In this year, 2015 we should recognize and honor the names of the signers of the Declaration and appreciate the deprivations, and spirit of the men who suffered as a result of having the courage to sign our Declaration of Independence. The signers were as follows:
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
RHODE ISLAND: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.
GEORGIA: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton.
MARYLAND: Samuel Chase. Wm. Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton.
VIRGINIA: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson,Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
NEW YORK: Wm. Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris.
PENNSYLVANIA: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross.
DELAWARE: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas M’Kean.
NORTH CAROLINA: Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton.
NEW JERSEY: Richard Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart and Abraham Clark.
Most of you have probably never really read the names or considered what kind of lives that they lived or what happened to them after signing the Declaration. We are too comfortable in our own lives to appreciate the men who signed the Declaration of Independence or what the consequences might have been as a result of their willingness to sign on for a revolution.
No one died as a result of having signed the Declaration. Most of the signers were too old to be in the military. However, George Walton of Georgia was wounded at the battle of Savannah.
In the siege of Charleston in 1780, three of the South Carolina signers were imprisoned. Thomas Heyward, Rutledge and Middleton were imprisoned but not tortured.
Only one person, was chosen because he did sign the Declaration, a Richard Stockton was hauled out of his bed and dragged away.
12 of the signers had their homes ransacked.
The most grievous actions were the imprisonment of the 2 sons of Abraham Clark, they both were serving in the Continental Army and were imprisoned on a ship. Sadly, Mr. Witherspoon’s son died in battle fighting against the British.
Liberty has a price. King George did not take kindly to the actions of what he perceived to be his colonists and decried their actions by branding them as traitors.
John Adams aptly described what they had done. ” I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration and support and defend these States. Yet through all this gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph in that day’s transactions.”
To paraphrase Thomas Paine, How many of you would be more than just sunshine Patriots, today? Would we be willing to pledge our lives, our property and our sacred honor for the cause of liberty, against an empire such as the British Empire if the same circumstances presented themselves today? Do you have the Spirit of 76′ ?