Remembering The Price of Freedom
- Wednesday, July 03, 2002
"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration....Posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even though we [may regret] it, which I trust in God we shall not."
- John Adams, letter to his wife Abigail, after signing the Declaration of Independence, 1776
After September 11th, we have come to appreciate our freedoms more than ever. At a time like this, it is important to remember the price of freedom paid by our founders.
Fifty-six representatives signed the Declaration with this accord: "With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
What happened to their "lives" and "fortunes?"
17 lost their fortunes
12 had their homes looted, ransacked and burned
5 were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died
2 lost sons serving in the Continental Army
1 had two sons captured, imprisoned and starved in the hull of a British ship
9 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
Caesar Rodney, afflicted with cancer of the jaw, was in New Jersey preparing to sail overseas to seek medical help. He received emergency notification that the other Delaware delegate was going to vote against Independence. Rodney gave up his voyage, which may have saved his life, and in his ill condition rode 80 miles non-stop on horseback all night long to make it to Philadelphia just in time to cast his vote for Independence.
Carter Braxton, a wealthy Virginia 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 McKean was hounded by the British and forced to move his family constantly. He served in Congress without pay; his possessions were taken and he died in poverty.
The properties of William Ellery, Lyman Hall, George Clymer, George Walton, Button Gwinnett, Thomas Heyward, Edward Rutledge, and Arthur Middleton were looted and vandalized.
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