The hardship of the signers of The Declaration Of Independence-Truth! and Fiction!

The Lives of the Signers of The Declaration Of Independence Were Characterized by Death And Hardship-Truth! & Fiction!



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. 

The Truth:

This 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 did.  

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.

For more information:

Colonial Hall Biographies of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

The National Archives