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56 Heros Not Forgotten
Monday, July 07, 2003 12:00:00 AM - Monroe Ohio
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.

Remember: freedom is never free!
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