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Food for Thought #18: The Price of Freedom, an American Cautionary Tale

Freedom is Anything But Free

"Have you ever wondered who were and what happened to the 56 men who signed the American Declaration of Independence? Pay close attention to the price of freedom.

Who They Were: Of the signers, 24 were lawyers and jurists, 11 were merchants, 9 were farmers and large plantation owners: all were men of means and well educated.

What They Did: They signed the American Declaration of Independence knowing that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to what could only be viewed - at the time - as a desperate and hopeless cause.

Here is how they ended up...

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. While twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the American Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. 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, poverty was his reward.

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 Nelson family home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and all his other 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. He found 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: "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. Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we should not. Take a few minutes to silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.

Remember: freedom is never free!" For quotes about freedom, click here!

Credits: from the sad and tragic historical truth.


 

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