In our nation in the present day, there are individuals who dismiss the Founding Fathers by way of the prism of 2022. If these folks had their means, they might take away each plaque, statue or phrase that celebrates the genius and brave acts of the lads who signed the Declaration of Independence.
For instance, on July 3, 2019, a journalist from Vox put out this little gem: “The principle good thing about the revolution to colonists was that it gave extra political energy to America’s white male minority.”
I believe that when the 56 males signed the declaration in Philadelphia in 1776 — a literal dying warrant for every — “id politics” was the furthest factor from their minds. Particularly for many who had been imprisoned, had their houses burned to the bottom, their livestock slaughtered and their wives arrested, merely for daring so as to add their title to essentially the most inspiring doc recognized to humanity.
Every of the 56 males who put that quill pen to parchment knew they had been very probably signing their very own dying warrants. John Hancock not solely knew that however purposely elevated the danger to himself. Why? Legend tells us he upped the ante so King George III “can learn my title with out spectacles and should double his reward on my head.”
Throughout the Revolutionary Struggle to comply with, greater than 100,000 males served in America’s Continental Military, out of a inhabitants of two.5 million. One other 200,000 or so served as militiamen. In whole, roughly 70,000 died in lively army service towards the tyranny of the British Crown. That’s a loss that in the present day would equate to nearly 10 million.
Like Hancock, every of the lads who dared to signal the declaration totally anticipated to pay a worth. Francis Lewis of New York, lengthy rumored to be one of many leaders of the “Sons of Liberty” – a grassroots band of provocateurs who used civil disobedience to antagonize the British – paid a a lot steeper worth than he may have imagined.
Lewis was elected to the Continental Congress in 1775 and signed the Declaration on Aug. 2, 1776. Sadly, simply days later – exactly due to his independence actions – he was focused by the British, who despatched a army contingent to destroy his dwelling. Within the course of, they took his spouse, Elizabeth, prisoner and locked her in a moist stone cell with no mattress, no change of clothes and solely rotted meals to eat. She was freed solely as a result of Gen. George Washington realized of her plight and ordered the arrest of the spouse of the British paymaster-general. Washington then initiated an trade of the ladies. Sadly, it was too late to avoid wasting Elizabeth, who later died from the barbaric situations she suffered.
Then there’s John Hart of New Jersey. Due to his requires independence whereas speaker of the Meeting, he was already a marked man. Elected as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in June of 1776, he signed the Declaration on Aug. 2. By December of that yr, because the Continental Military was pressured to retreat throughout New Jersey, British troops superior on the house of Hart. His ailing spouse, Deborah, begged Hart to get their kids to security, so he positioned them with relations earlier than fleeing to the frigid forest the place he hid for weeks in caves till the Redcoats disbanded. Upon his return, he discovered that his spouse had handed away and the British had destroyed his dwelling and property.
By 1780, through the Battle of Charleston, three signers — Thomas Heyward, Jr., Edward Rutledge and Arthur Middleton — had been taken prisoner. Every was recognized to the Crown not solely as enemy combatants, however signatories of the Declaration. As such, they had been despatched to a prisoner-of-war camp in Florida, and frequently abused by their captors.
These males who signed our Declaration knew that freedom was removed from free — and paid the worth.
As we pause to commemorate our nation’s birthday, we must also bear in mind their sacrifice and reject any misguided claims from those that search to demonize them. It’s time we acknowledged our Founding Fathers for who they really are.
Douglas MacKinnon is a former White Home and Pentagon official and writer of the ebook “The 56 – Liberty Lessons From Those Who Risked All To Sign The Declaration of Independence.”
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