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Jim's Jottings

The 56 Declaration signers gave lives for us

September 22, 2010 - Just before the Fourth of July, friend Mickey gave me a note meant for that day. I put it aside "until I had more time." You know how that works.

Re-reading it recently I concluded it's apropos for every day, not just Independence Day. It has two lead-ins:

1. What kind of men were they?

2. 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 Congress without pay and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals and 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.

So, take a few minutes and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid. Consider, too . . . just because some one is wealthy, doesn't make him or her the enemy of the poor.

Remember: freedom is never free!

- - - 0 - - -

This morning, Thursday, September 16, I listened to people on radio station WJR talk about the tea party movement. This has nothing to do with the Declaration signers.

But, whereas I had at first believed these partiers were anti-Obama, conservative-minded housewives who got together to drink tea and talk. I got a different view today.

Host Frank Beckman had a pollster tell us his surveys found people are just plain fed up with both political parties, and just about everything related to Washington DC's actions.

I think I could become a tea partier, or get behind the party of "No."

Seriously, folks, are the people you voted for Democrat or Republican really representing things you believe are best?

Obama be damned. Same for Boehner, Pelosi, either Levin and the rest. They take more money in taxes than we ever imagined, and they spend it as unwisely as we could imagine.

It's getting to the point where the answer to bringing us out of this recession/depression was done to end the Great Depression: Start a huge war.

No, I don't believe that's coming, but do believe the light at the end of the tunnel is more and more that of an oncoming train.

Jim Sherman, Sr. is president of Sherman Publications, Inc. He has penned "Jim's Jottings" since 1955.
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