Lives of the Signers
of The Declaration Of Independence Were Characterized by Death And Hardship-Truth!
Summary of eRumor: This
email goes through a list of some of the signers of the Declaration of
Independence that led to the formation of the United States more than 200
years ago. It says that the signers lived lives of hardship,
personal loss, and poverty, and that five of them were captured by the
British, tortured, and died. The entire email is duplicated at the
bottom of this page.
is a delicate one and could possibly be affected by which history book you
read and how you interpret what is there. The courageous patriots
who signed the Declaration of Independence, as well as other of the
fathers of our country, deserve all the recognition and honor we can
give. They risked everything to bring this country into being.
This email, however, makes it sound as though the British won, not the
Colonists. We don't want to diminish the sacrifices each of them
experienced. There were hardships and losses, but to characterize
the signers as not having enjoyed the fruits of their project of liberty
is to overlook the quality of their abilities and the success of what they
Here are some of our findings:
First, none of the signers of the Declaration of Independence died
in captivity. All but two, or possibly three, died natural deaths
and the majority of them lived to advanced age and had adequate
possessions if not wealth.
Of the deaths, Thomas Lynch, Jr. was lost at sea on a recreational voyage,
Button Gwinett died from injuries in a duel with a political rival, and
George Wythe was thought to have been poisoned by a man who wanted his
estate, but the man was acquitted. At least four of the signers were
captured by the British, but apparently because they were soldiers, not
signers of the Declaration. We consulted seven sources about the
signers and none contained accounts of what could be called torture, at
least not that was directed toward any of them for being founding
fathers. Two who were captured may have experienced some kind of
torture because of the severity of their confinement, but that is
conjecture. All were released and died natural deaths, although the
health of some was affected by their imprisonment.
A real example of the story as it has
The Price They Paid
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 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
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 Ellery, 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. A few weeks later he died
from exhaustion and a broken heart. Morris and Livingston suffered similar
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. 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.
Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the
support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the
divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our
fortunes, and our sacred honor."
They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books
never told you a lot of what happened in the revolutionary war. We didn't
just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we
fought our own government! Perhaps you can now see why our founding
fathers had a hatred for standing armies, and allowed through the second
amendment for everyone to be armed.
Frankly, I can't read this without crying. Some of us take these liberties
so much for granted. We shouldn't.