What did the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence have to lose?

Of the 56 signers:

5 were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died.
12 had their homes ransacked and burned
2 lost their sons in the Continental Army
1 had two sons captured
9 fought and died from wounds or hardships in the Revolutionary War

They signed and pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor but what kind of men were they?

24 were lawyers
11 were merchants
9 were farmers and large plantation owners

Men of means; well educated but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia had his merchant ships destroyed by the British Navy, several of his plantations were destroyed during the war as well. After the war he was forced to sell what was left of his estate to pay debts accrued from funding the Revolution. He died in poverty.

Thomas McKean was hounded by the British so much he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay. His family was kept in hiding, his possessions were taken from him and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of George Clymer, George Walton, Button Gwinnett, Thomas Heyward, Edward Rutledge, and Arthur Middleton.

Gen. Cornwallis took the home of Thomas Nelson for his HQ in Yorktown. During the battle Nelson quietly urged Gen. Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed, the British jailed his wife and she dies 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 were laid to waste. For over a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished and a few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

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. For this, I am grateful.


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