Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What happened to signers of the Declaration of Independence?

  Fifty-six members of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence. Many gave their lives and their fortunes for the cause.
  The British captured and tortured five. Nine fought and died in the Revolution. Two lost sons to the war. Another had two sons captured. Eleven had their homes pillaged and burned. The British used the home of one signer, Thomas Nelson, as their headquarters. After they moved in, Nelson demanded that the patriot army destroy the home in order to drive the British out. He died penniless.
   Farmer "Honest John Hart" suffered greatly. Hessian mercenaries burned his farm and grist mill and killed his livestock. Hart's wife became ill and, while the British besieged his farmhouse, he refused to leave his wife. After his wife died, and the aged Hart fled into the forest, eluding the British by living in the woods and in caves. His 13 children scattered to relatives and friends.
   Richard Stockton, a judge, was captured, tortured and starved. He lost all his money and property and died soon after his release. His family lived off charity.
   Of those who survived the Revolution, six signed the U.S. Constitution. Thirteen went on to become governors of their states. Eighteen served in their state legislatures, and 16 became state or federal judges. Seven became members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and six became senators.
   Five played major roles in establishing colleges and universities: Franklin and the University of Pennsylvania, Jefferson and the University of Virginia, Benjamin Rush and Dickinson College