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. Declaration of Independence-1776, primarily written by Thomas Jefferson [Earlier versions used the word "inalienable" but final version used "unalienable."]
Independence Day and what it celebrates, the Birth of a Nation, embraces the adage: Freedom is never free. ~Author Unknown.
There were 56 signers [13 colonies] of the Declaration of Independence: [Pennyslvania had the most signers (9); Rhode Island had the fewest signers (2).]
Most signers were footnotes in larger history. Below are a few notables:
>John Hancock [MA], President of the Continental Congress was the first, largest and most famous signature.
>John Adams [MA] (future second President) died on July 4th, 1826. His last toast to Independance Day: "Independence forever!"
>Thomas Jefferson [VA] (future third President), died on July 4th, 1826. Clearly the most educated and enlightened signer, he wished to be remembered for signing the Declaration of Independence, and establishment of the University of Virginia.
>Benjamin Franklin [PA] was the oldest signer, a self-taught man known internationally long before Jefferson and others, he was a business man,
publisher, writer, scientist, diplomat, legislator, social activist, abolitionist.
>Edward Rutlege [SC] was the youngest signer, an aristocrat born to a life of public service.
>Benjamin Harrison (VA), was a farmer and political activist; his son was the future 9th President.
A recent circulating e-mail The Price They Paid, which seems to have originated in 1999, spins an embellished, but impressive re-writing of history. [I linked the title to one site where an author is named, but several sites state "Author Unknown." ]
Below is the e-mail as I received it:
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
>Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
>Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
>Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
>Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they?
>Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.
>Eleven were merchants,
>Nine were farmers and large plantation owners;
Men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
>Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy 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 so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
>Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer,Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
>At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
>Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died 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 and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.
So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.
Remember: freedom is never free! I hope you will show your support by sending this to as many people as you can, please.
It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer, picnics, and baseball games.
Snopes.com's analysis of THE PRICE THEY PAID is "some true, some false." In my personal vernacular, maybe so, maybe not. Snopes has the reputation of sniffing out the truth, and is usually more right, than wrong!
For fascinating facts and history explore the website, The Declaration of Independence, the Want, Will and Hopes of the People.