Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

                Most Americans know that Independence Day is commemorated and celebrated on the Fourth of July every year. Far too many Americans consider the day to be just another holiday - a day to go camping or fishing or an excuse to get drunk. Lest forgetfulness sets in on the subject, I want to remind my readers of the sacrifices made by the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

                Michael Sabo posted an interesting article on this topic in July 2016.  I believe that all Americans should review this information at least annually.

                Most Americans remember the statement about “unalienable rights” – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Sabo reminds us of the easiness of focusing on the second paragraph without paying little attention to the concluding paragraphs and signatures. He declares that the opening paragraphs enunciate important principles that we should remember and live, but principles alone do not bring security.

Principles need to be enforced by individuals who have the habits of character necessary to fight for them, and perhaps even die for them, if need be. In a time where talk of rights dominates our political discourse, a focus on duties is indispensable in order to each citizen the responsibilities they owe toward each other and their posterity.

The signers’ mutual pledge to themselves to sacrifice their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for the cause of independence shows that these men took seriously their duties to the people of the new nation….

Of the 56 men who signed the declaration, 12 fought in battles as members of state militias, five were captured and imprisoned during the Revolutionary War, 17 lost property as a result of British raids, and five lost their fortunes in helping fund the Continental Army and state militias battle the redcoats.

                Sabo continues his article with more details about some of the sacrifices made by these men who were willing to give “their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” for independence. The details tell of men serving in the armies, homes being destroyed, and fortunes being spent for the cause of liberty.

                Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr. also penned an article about the 56 signers.  He writes that the signers took “three days of wrangling” before adopting the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.

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 landowners 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.” …
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….

                Limbaugh used the same word that Sabo used to describe why the men met in Philadelphia. They were taking a stand for principles – conservative principles. They each understood that independence would not come simply by principle, and they pledged “their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to win it. The Signers paid dearly for signing the declaration, but they considered independence to be worth their sacrifices.

                Do Americans today realize the value of independence? There are large numbers of people living in America who do not want independence but would rather live under different laws – such as socialism, communism, and Sharia law. However, there are vast numbers of Americans who desire independence and who are willing to do something to keep Americans free and independent. These numbers are shown by the rise of the TEA Party after the presidential election of Barack Obama and the election of Donald Trump. In spite of all the negative news reports about Trump and his administration, the people who put him in office are still standing with him. The majority of Americans still desire independence and liberty and are willing to sacrifice their own lives and fortunes to fight for it as their honor is dragged through the mud by the lame stream media.

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