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  1. #76

  2. #77
    Marine Free Member 10thzodiac's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    Western Chicagoland 'Burbs


    Much to lose...

    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?

    I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

    Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56, almost half--24--were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, 9 were land-owners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

    With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th century.

    Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so "that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward." Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately." Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone."

    These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember: a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

    They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics, yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

    It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers (it was he, Francis Hopkinson--not Betsy Ross--who designed the United States flag).

    Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic is his concluding remarks:

    "Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repose. If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American legislators of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."

    Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

    William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers' faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, "but in no face was he able to discern real fear." Stephen Hopkins, Ellery's colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."

    "Most glorious service"...

    Even before the list 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.

    Francis Lewis, New York delegate, saw his home plundered and his estates, in what is now Harlem, completely destroyed by British soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners through the efforts of Congress, she died from the effects of her abuse.

    William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home, they found a devastated ruin.

    Phillips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause.

    Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.

    John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

    Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.

    Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton's parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

    Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington's appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry. George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

    Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.

    John Morton, 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 [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I rendered to my country."
    William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.

    Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

    Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large land holdings and estates.

    Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson's palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, "Why do you spare my home?" They replied, "Sir, out of respect to you." Nelson cried, "Give me the cannon!" and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson's sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson's property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.

    Lives, fortunes, honor...

    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.

    And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark. He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to the infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York harbor known as the hell ship "Jersey," where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and parliament. The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: "No."

    The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "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 and our sacred honor."

  3. #78
    Quote Originally Posted by 10thzodiac
    Much to lose...
    Not disputing you. I fully agree; I was only quoting what I know to be the law. Advocating the violent overthrow of the gov't is tantamount to conspiracy and that is a federal charge.

  4. #79
    Guest Free Member
    Quote Originally Posted by 10thzodiac
    Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness] it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government...
    Thomas Jefferson (The Declaration of Independence)
    Playing Devil's Advocate, what are the rights of the Govt to protect itself from 'far flung ideas' or maybe its just a small percentage of folks that are never pleased?

  5. #80
    Marine Free Member 10thzodiac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Western Chicagoland 'Burbs
    Off the top of my head, concentration camps ?

  6. #81
    Oddly, it only became illegal after 1865. We lost the 2nd revolution and the Constitution died with it. When Jeffersons' principles were exercised, they were crushed by federalism.

  7. #82


    hilary is aliar just like her hubby.when she ran for reelection ,she promised the ny voters that she would serve out her full term of yorkers believed aresult they only have one senator,because she'll be too busy raising money and bsing the rest of the country as to how great she is.

  8. #83

    better govt?

    to all those unhappy with the govt,dont you think we should try even harder to make it accountable to us?*****in'is ok but lets get off our butts and do something about it,let's face it as bad as some of you think our govt is,is there abetter one somewhere else?we were given a pretty good start in this country.we allowed the crooks and con artists to take over.get involved get like minded people to join in.lets take back our country.lock and load.

  9. #84
    It used to be a long time ago; I've noticed that the attitudes of a large number people seems to be that as long as the gov't doesn't interfere too much in their personal lives, they don't seem to care how much their liberties are limited.

    About a 100+ years ago, back before the concept of States' Rights became associated with racial discrimination, the States used to interpose their Sovereignty between the Federal Gov't and their citizens. The States were seen as a vehicle to protect the liberties of the people from the Federal Gov't. In the early days of the Republic no one ever believed the Federal Gov't should be the sole guardian of the people's Liberties and for good reason. When we allowed the Federal Gov't to take on that role they have sought to weaken the Bill of Rights whenever possible.

    1. The Free Exercise Clause (1st Amendment) has been completely overshadowed by the Separation of Church and State doctrine, which, as it is currently interpreted goes way beyond the intent of the founders. Today no Federal Court will hear a case concerning the Free Exercise Clause, because under the current interpretation of the Church and State doctrine, the Free Exercise Clause, if interpreted as it should, would undermine much of the Church and State Doctrine.
    2. The Right to Bear Arms (2nd Amendment) is being re-interpreted by gun-control proponents in an effort to take our guns and rifles away from honest citizens, by claiming that the Right to Bears was only ever intended to apply to the militias.
    3. Iminent Domain originally intended to allow the States to acquire private property for public use is being abused in many parts of the country by local gov'ts taking private property with public money and selling, leasing or giving it to private developers for economic development.
    There is more I could mention, but this is just my two cents.

  10. #85
    3077India- You make some good points. I think it's unfortunate that many Americans have become apathetic when it comes to politics. They think their vote doesn't matter.
    It's important for the people of this country to remember that our government is "...of the people, by the people, and for the people." We do have the power, if we will just take it and use it wisely. There are "tools" we can use to effect change, namely- petitions, initiatives, referendums, recalls, and voting.
    I would like to see Americans research these tools, learn how they work, and most importantly...use those tools to make our government what we want it to be.

  11. #86
    Good point drumcorps. In a political science class I just took, the professor was telling us that out of the entire population...
    5% of people were opinion formers
    15% of people were well informed, or politically active
    80% were indifferent or apathetic!

    I feel that this is pathetic, especially since more that 20% of people are going to be voting anyway. I feel that it is everyones responsibility as an American citizen to at least have some idea of what is going on in the local, state, and federal governments that affects everyone on a day to day basis.

  12. #87
    hoytarcher45- Imagine if a sizeable group of Americans, say for example....U.S. Marines....were to take the initiative to help educate and persuade their family, friends, and acquaintences to take a more active roll in government/politics. In just day to day conversations with people they know; with "Letters to the Editor" in their local newspapers; grass-roots polling and petitioning, etc.
    Leathernecks have always been taught to "adapt and overcome" why not "adapt" to the current mess in our political system, and "overcome" by taking action and using the provisions built in to our government to make the needed changes???

    One single Marine probably wouldn't make a difference. ALL OF US...would be heard!

  13. #88
    Quote Originally Posted by hoytarcher45
    Good point drumcorps. In a political science class I just took, the professor was telling us that out of the entire population...
    5% of people were opinion formers
    15% of people were well informed, or politically active
    80% were indifferent or apathetic!

    I feel that this is pathetic, especially since more that 20% of people are going to be voting anyway. I feel that it is everyones responsibility as an American citizen to at least have some idea of what is going on in the local, state, and federal governments that affects everyone on a day to day basis.
    You are so correct, but as drumcorps has pointed out, too many people think their vote won't matter. But I think there is more to it than just that. For too long now we have had the mindset that there are only 2 parties for which we can vote - Damnocraps and Republicans. True, we only have a choice in most State and local elections for one or both of these parties, but there are other parties people can promote and work to get elected if only they are willing to put up the effort. Most people won't because there is little to no immediate reward. For this reason, among others, people become apathetic and feel their vote doesn't matter. If the 2000 Presidential Election taugh us anything, it's that every vote does count.

  14. #89
    One of my pet peeves in American govt. is "career politicians." These elected officials who serve thirty, forty, even fifty years, have developed their "good-old-boy" network of self-serving, behind the scenes wheeling and dealing, that is really not in our best interest. They cater to lobbyists and "pork-barrel spending" instead of representing the interests of their constituents.
    It is my belief that our founding fathers wanted the average American to govern this country. I think it's unfortunate that terms of office are not limited by the Constitution. Only the President of the United States is limited to two terms.
    I would like to see politicians in this country limited to four terms, total, in office. This would include all levels of government....local, state, and federal.
    So, for example, if I am elected to my state assembly and serve two terms, then run for the US Senate, I can only serve two terms there. Then, I am done as an elected official in this country. Four total exceptions!

    What do you think of term limits?

  15. #90


    drum corps,you have apoint.the only problem might be if you get areally great guy,who does the job right,we could lose some one great.but by and large lets limit these other thing i'd like to see,is if you want to run for a differant office you must quit the one you are holding.the politicians should not have a safety net in case they lose.if you wanted to move to a better paying job you would have to give up your current one.

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