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On July 4, 1776, delegates to the Continental Congress voted to accept the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia's Independence Hall. On August 2, fifty-six men signed their names to the historic document, giving birth to a new nation as they declared their independence from Great Britain.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence? This is the price they paid:

Of the 56 signers, five were captured, tortured and killed by the British. Nine fought in the Revolutionary War and died from their wounds.  A dozen had their homes destroyed. Four had sons that were killed or captured.  When Congress moved to Baltimore as the British advanced, John Hancock's infant daughter died from the hardships of the winter trip.  William Ellery lost his house and property. Richard Stockton was beaten and jailed, and while in jail, his estate burned. Carter Braxton lost his fortune as well.  Thomas McKean served in the Congress without pay, and kept his family in hiding. Heyward, Rutledge and Middleton were captured by the British and jailed for a year. Clymer, Hall, Harrison, Hopkinson and Livingston lost their properties.  Thomas Nelson lost his home and died bankrupt. Francis Lewis lost his home and property as well and his wife was jailed for two months. John Hart lost his farm, hid in forests for over a year, and when he returned, found his wife had died and his 13 children disappeared.   Seventeen others lost everything they owned. It is important to remember that despite the hardships, not a single one of them defected or failed to honor his pledge.  They paid their price and freedom was born. These men signed, and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor!

Picture any of today’s politicians or millionaires sacrificing so much today?

What kind of men were they?

Twenty five were lawyers or jurists. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers or large plantation owners. One was a teacher, one a musician, one a printer. Two were manufacturers, one was a minister. These were men of means and education, yet they signed the Declaration of Independence, knowing full well that the penalty could be death if they were captured.

Almost one third were under forty years old, eighteen were in their thirties, and three were in their twenties. Only seven were over sixty. The youngest, Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, was twenty-six and a half, and the oldest, Benjamin Franklin was seventy. Three of the signers lived to be over ninety. Charles Carroll died at the age of ninety-five. Ten died in their eighties.

The first signer to die was John Morton of Pennsylvania.  At first his sympathies were with the British, but he changed his mind and voted for independence.  By doing so, his friends, relatives, and neighbors turned against him. The ostracis hastened his death, and he lived only eight months after the signing.  His last words were, "tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it to have been the most glorious service that I ever rendered to my country."

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.

The signers were religious men, all being Protestant except Charles Carroll, who was a Roman Catholic. Over half expressed their religious faith as being Episcopalian.  Others were Congregational, Presbyterian, Quaker, and Baptist.

Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

Perhaps one of the most inspiring examples of "undaunted resolution" was at the Battle of Yorktown. Thomas Nelson, Jr. was returning from Philadelphia to become Governor of Virginia and joined General Washington just outside of Yorktown. He then noted that British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters, but that the patriot's were directing their artillery fire all over the town except for the vicinity of his own beautiful home. Nelson asked why they were not firing in that direction, and the soldiers replied, "Out of respect to you, Sir."  Nelson quietly urged General Washington to open fire, and stepping forward to the nearest cannon, aimed at his own house and fired.  The other guns joined in, and the Nelson home was destroyed. Nelson died bankrupt, at age 51.

Caesar Rodney was another signer who paid with his life.  Caesar Rodney, Delaware statesman, was gravely ill with facial cancer. Unless he returned to England for treatment, his life would end.  Yet Rodney sealed his fate by signing the Declaration of Independence.  He was one of several who fulfilled their pledge with their lives.  On a stormy July 2, 1776, Caesar Rodney rode 80 miles from Dover to Philadelphia to cast Delaware's deciding vote for independence from British rule.  History tells us in 1776, Delaware delegates Thomas McKean encouraged declaring independence, while George Read did not.  Rodney, who was seriously ill, suffering asthma, exhaustion from serving in the Revolutionary War and disfiguring facial cancer, was summoned from his Dover home to cast the deciding vote - in Philadelphia.  Upon his arrival in Philadelphia, Rodney told the Continental Congress, "As I believe the voice of my constituents and of all sensible and honest men is in favor of independence and my own judgement concurs with them, I vote for independence."  With these famous words, Delaware's vote was cast and other colonies followed suit.  With his physical ailments and the certainty of being hanged had the British won the war, Rodney's historic ride and vote is astonishing to say the least.  He died from his cancer and never saw the end of the war and victory.

Francis Lewis's Long Island home was looted and gutted, his home and properties destroyed.  His wife was thrown into a damp dark prison cell for two months without a bed.  Health ruined, Mrs. Lewis soon died from the effects of the confinement.  The Lewis's son would later die in British captivity, also.

"Honest John" Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she lay dying, when British and Hessian troops invaded New Jersey just months after he signed the Declaration. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid to waste. All winter, and for more than a year, Hart lived in forests and caves, finally returning home to find his wife dead, his children vanished and his farm destroyed. Rebuilding proved too be too great a task. A few weeks later, by the spring of 1779, John Hart was dead from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Richard Stockton, a New Jersey State Supreme Court Justice, had rushed back to his estate near Princeton after signing the Declaration of Independence to find that his wife and children were living like refugees with friends. They had been betrayed by a Tory sympathizer who also revealed Stockton's own whereabouts. British troops pulled him from his bed one night, beat him and threw him in jail where he almost starved to death.  When he was finally released, he went home to find his estate had been looted, his possessions burned, and his horses stolen. Judge Stockton had been so badly treated in prison that his health was ruined and he died before the war's end, a broken man. His surviving family had to live the remainder of their lives off charity.

William Ellery of Rhode Island, who marveled that he had seen only "undaunted resolution" in the faces of his co-signers, also had his home burned.

Only days after Lewis Morris of New York signed the Declaration, British troops ravaged his 2,000-acre estate, butchered his cattle and drove his family off the land. Three of Morris' sons fought the British.

When the British seized the New York houses of the wealthy Philip Livingston, he sold off everything else, and gave the money to the Revolution.  He died in 1778.

Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge and Thomas Heyward Jr. went home to South Carolina to fight. In the British invasion of the South, Heyward was wounded and all three were captured. As he rotted on a prison ship in St. Augustine, Heyward's plantation was raided, buildings burned, and his wife, who witnessed it all, died. Other Southern signers suffered the same general fate.

Among the first to sign had been John Hancock, who wrote in big, bold script so George III "could read my name without spectacles and could now double his reward for 500 pounds for my head."  If the cause of the revolution commands it, roared Hancock, "Burn Boston and make John Hancock a beggar!"  In the face of the advancing British Army, the Continental Congress fled from Philadelphia to Baltimore on December 12, 1776.  It was an especially anxious time for John Hancock, the President, as his wife had just given birth to a baby girl. Due to the complications stemming from the trip to Baltimore, the child lived only a few months.  John Hancock, one of the wealthiest men in New England, stood outside Boston one terrible evening of the war and said, "Burn, Boston, though it makes John Hancock a beggar, if the public good requires it."  He lost most of his fortune during the war, having given over $100,000 to the cause of freedom. The signature of John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence is the most flamboyant and easily recognizable of all.  It is perhaps no surprise that the story of his part in the revolution is equally engaging. Few figures were more well known or more popular than John Hancock. He played an instrumental role, sometimes by accident, and other times by design, in coaxing the American Revolution into being.  

Born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1737, he was orphaned as a child, and adopted by a wealthy merchant Uncle who was childless. Hancock attended Harvard College for a business education and graduated at the age of 17. He apprenticed to his Uncle as a clerk and proved so honest and capable that, in 1760, he was sent on a business mission to England. There he witnessed the coronation of George III and engaged some of the leading businessmen of London. In 1763, his uncle died and John Hancock inherited what was said to be the greatest body of wealth in New England. This placed him in a society of men who consisted mainly of loyalists, suspected by the working population because of their great affluence and social power. Hancock, however, soon became very involved in revolutionary politics & his sentiments were, early on & clearly, for independence from Gr. Britain. He was in company with the Adams' and other prominent leaders in the republican movement in New England. He was elected to the Boston Assembly in 1766, and was a member of the Stamp Act Congress. In 1768 his sloop Liberty was impounded by customs officials at Boston Harbor, on a charge of running contraband goods. A large group of private citizens stormed the customs post, burned the government boat, and beat the officers, causing them to seek refuge on a ship off shore. Soon afterward, Hancock abetted the Boston Tea Party. The following year he delivered a public address to a large crown in Boston, commemorating the Boston Massacre. In 1774, he was elected to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts and simultaneously to the Continental Congress. When Peyton Randolph resigned in 1776, Hancock assumed the position of President. He retired in 1777 due to problems with gout, but continued public service in his native state by participating in the formation of its constitution. He was then elected to the Governorship of the state where he served for five years, declined reelection, and was again elected in 1787. He served in that office until his death in 1793. The dignity and character of John Hancock, celebrated by friend and enemy alike, did not suffer for his love of public attention. He was a populist in every sense, who held great confidence in the ability of the common man. He also displayed a pronounced contempt for unreasoned authority. A decree had been delivered form England in early 1776 offering a large reward for the capture of several leading figures. Hancock was one of them. On signing the Declaration he commented, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward."

Here were men who believed in a cause far beyond themselves. 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.

Today, who protects your constitutional rights from "the Government"?  The police? The government itself?  Attorneys who have government contracts or government clients? The ACLU, who selectively protects some rights, but actively lobbies to restrict others (i.e. Right to Keep and Bear Arms)?  There are only a handful of attorneys who actively protect ALL our constitutional rights on a daily basis --- Mr. Gorski is one of them.  Mr. Gorski is not associated with any political or lobbyist organization, and all his litigation is self-funded -- a true lone wolf.

So, why have sheep represent your civil liberties when you can hire the wolf.  Mr. Gorski will fight to check the government's abridgment of your civil liberties.  Keep this in mind, erosion of constitutional rights is over time, but the final cumulative affect of the erosion is best exemplified by the Grand Canyon. Or, as Edmund Burke so eloquently put it:  "The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts."  Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.  Mr. Gorski is in the arena fighting for the People on a daily basis -- to stop the erosion.

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."  George Washington 

“God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.”  Daniel Webster, speech, June 3, 1834.

"Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure."  Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823. ME 15:450 

"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”  James Madison
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