Part Two: Patriots Who Signed The Declaration of Independence (What My Children Are Learning)Submitted by Libera_me on Mon, 05/20/2013 - 09:30
Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert L. Livingston were selected by the Continental Congress to draft the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson did the actual writing of the document, with little change from the original draft from both the Committee and the full Continental Congress. I have already told some of the story of Samuel Adams, Nathan Hale, and Patrick Henry,(www.dailypaul.com/283959/patrick-henry-samuel-adams-nathan-h... ) here are some brief snap-shots of those who signed the Declaration of Independence:
John Hancock was a wealthy landowner, and a generous man, as well. He began funding the Sons of Liberty, as he thought Samuel Adams was a political genius. He was popular with everyone and a speaker in his own right: He said as he signed:
"There, John Bull (a colonial 'nickname' for King George III) can read that without spectacles, and thus double the price on my head!"
All of the signers were brave men, but one signature, standing out because of its shaky appearance, is somewhat deceiving. Some may question: Did he fear the gallows? Is that why he shook? Not quite. Stephen Hopkins was afflicted with a disease known as 'shaking palsy'. Because of this, he often had his secretary do his writing. As he signed, holding his right wrist with his left hand to ensure clarity, he said:
"If my hand does tremble, John Bull will find that my heart won't."
Samuel Adams was advised by General Gage to make peace with King George III, he replied:
"I trust I have long since made my peace with the King of Kings. No personal 'considerations' shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my country." (he did have more to say, check the link above for the rest of the story)
Dr. Josiah Bartlett was the first to vote for the Declaration of Independence. He was one of three 'self-made men' on the list. All but three had the best education possible: Eight graduated from Harvard, Four each graduated from Princeton and Yale, the College of William and Mary had three graduates as signers, and six were educated in England or Scotland. Several others were tutored, and received and education as good and costly as those given in the universities.
Alas and alack for ten of the signers, they did not live to see the birth of the new country. John Hart and Richard Stockton were hunted down by the British, Hart for years. They managed to capture Captain Richard Stockton, he was jailed in New York City. He was treated so badly by the British he soon died. Button Gwinnett joined immediately upon hearing about the Declaration of Independence. He and General Mc Intosh had a quarrel, and a duel, where he was mortally wounded.
John Witherspoon, the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence, was on the War Board. He often visited the troops and continually tried to make conditions easier for them. After the war, he became a college president and wrote many theological books.
Robert Morris loaned his great fortune to the cause of liberty, making possible the surrender of Cornwallis to General Washington. He also compelled another wealthy man to support the cause, on the holiest day of that man's year, yet! (I will devote the third part of series to this 'forgotten patriot') He managed the financial affairs for the country, but the government allowed his creditors to send him to debtor's prison.
Lewis Morris signed, lost everything he owned, and his family was forced to flee. Arthur Middleton had his property confiscated, and he himself was imprisoned, where he died. Thomas Nelson saved the colony of Virginia from bankruptcy, and even ordered the destruction of his own home. He died at the age of 51, and the rest of his property was sold to pay his debts. The only thing that was left to Nelson was the priceless gift of an approving conscience.
The two Lees were Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee. Francis Lightfoot Lee was one of George Washington's confidantes, and was a practical gentleman. He insisted that the United States should have the right to navigate the Mississippi, and fish off the shores of Newfoundland.
John Morton, a Philadelphia judge, was the first to die. Many of his oldest and dearest friends turned against him, and refused to be reconciled, even as he lay dying. He said, "Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country."
Thomas Lynch Jr. accepted commission as a Captain, and begged to go home to see his father, who was seriously ill. He was refused by the captain, but Providentially, was called to replace his father in Congress. His father died in his arms while traveling home to South Carolina. He was known as a statesman, and in 1779, his doctors advised a sea voyage to benefit his health. A storm destroyed his ship and took his life.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton outlived all the rest of the signers, he lived to be 95, and died shortly before his 96th birthday.
*most of this information can be found in The Biographies of the Signers by John Sanderson.