Wednesday, July 9, 2008

American Patriots


I received this in an e-mail today, and I thought that it was definitely worth sharing, so I am reprinting it here verbatim. (with thanks to the unknown author).

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 McKeam 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.

Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't. So, take a few minutes and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.

UPDATE: The Brooklyn Wolf has kindly found an online source for the above essay (at Snopes.com) which disputes the validity of many of the "facts" contained therein. According to Snopes.com, the essay contains many "kernels" of truth which have been dramatized and embellished over the years to satisfy our need for "simplified, dramatic events and heroes" that "make for a better story".
I must confess that when I first received the e-mail, I was struck by the long list of tragic fates that these men had apparently met and I couldn't understand why I had never heard any of this before. But it was late, I was tired (lousy excuses, I know) and I am a major sucker for all things Americana, so I simply reprinted it without verifying anything. As a former history teacher (Oh, God, now I'm really embarrassed), I should have known better. Mea Culpa.

6 comments:

BrooklynWolf said...

You might want to read this:

http://www.snopes.com/history/american/pricepaid.asp

The Wolf

ClooJew said...

I have, lulei demistafina, seen this before. You are so right about not taking our liberties for granted. Nice post.

SuperRaizy said...

Wolf-
Thank you for finding that. Truth is, I just reprinted the essay as I received it without checking out its claims. (I'm a sucker for anything patriotic). I have updated the post to reflect this information.

SuperRaizy said...

cloojew-
"Nice post"-
thank you, but..
"You are so right about not taking our liberties for granted."-
The sentiment is right,but I didn't write that statement. It's part of the original essay.

Leora said...

Nice sentiment, even if the exaggeration has been uncovered by snopes.

I wonder why people need to exaggerate the truth in order to make a point?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I think Ben Franklin summed it up correctly at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."