What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you, the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words. Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them?”
In this moving address, “The Americans Who Risked Everything” (published in the Limbaugh Letter and on Rush’s website, but originally and oft delivered orally by his father), the sacrifices of the great signers of the Declaration of Independence are displayed in emotive detail. The profound respect and deep and humble gratitude for these courageous men who were so committed to the cause of freedom that should come to any American after reading this should strengthen our own commitment to the cause of liberty and the to the principles upon which this greatest nation was founded. I strongly encourage you to follow the link and read its entirety; I have included here only a few stirring excerpts.
It stands to reason that “it was principle, not property, that had brought these men [the signers] to Philadelphia,” for only a genuine commitment to principle could be worth enduring what these men did. “Even before the list [of names] was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.”
Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.”
John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were:
‘Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country.'”
*This post is part of my week-long Independence Day series.