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 McKean 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.
- Vandals or 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. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a
- Norris and Livingston
suffered similar fates.
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
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 divine providence, we
mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our
They gave you and me a free and
independent America. The history books never told you a lot
about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't fight
just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we
fought our own government!
Some of us take these liberties
so much for granted, but we shouldn't. So, take a few minutes
this year while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently
thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they
Remember: freedom is never
free, and the Fourth of July has more to it than parades, beer,
picnics, and baseball games.
The Declaration of Independence
[Adopted in Congress 4 July 1776]
The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the
opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and
happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long
train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity
which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
- He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
- He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
- He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
- He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
- He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
- He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions
- He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
- He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
- He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
- He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
- He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
- He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
- He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
- For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
- For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
- For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
- For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
- For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
- For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
- For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
- For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
- For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
- He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
- He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
- He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the head of a civilized nation.
- He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
- He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and
magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united
colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levey war, conclude
peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
meaning of the symbols on the Dollar Bill
Take out a one dollar bill and look at it. The one dollar bill
you're looking at first came off the presses in 1957 in its
present design. This so-called paper money is in fact a cotton
and linen blend, with red and blue minute silk fibers running
through it. It's not paper money at all...its fabric money.
We've all washed it without it falling apart. A special blend of
ink is used, the contents we will never know. It is overprinted
with symbols and then it is starched to make it water resistant
and pressed to give it that nice crisp look.
If you look on the front of the bill, you will see the United
States Treasury Seal. On the top you will see the scales for the
balance-a balanced budget. In the center you have a carpenter's
T-square, a tool used for an even cut. Underneath is the Key to
the United States Treasury.
That's all pretty easy to figure out, but what is on the back
of that dollar bill is something we should all know. If you turn
the bill over, you will see two circles. Both circles, together,
comprise the Great Seal of the United States. The First
Continental Congress requested that Benjamin Franklin and a
group of men come up with a Seal. It took them four years to
accomplish this task and another two years to get it approved.
If you look at the left hand circle, you will see a Pyramid.
Notice the face is lighted and the western side is dark. This
country was just beginning. We had not begun to explore the West
or decided what we could do for Western Civilization. The
Pyramid is uncapped, again signifying that we were not even
close to being finished. Inside the capstone you have the
all-seeing eye, and ancient symbol for divinity. It was
Franklin's belief that one man couldn't do it alone, but a group
of men, with the help of God could do anything. "IN GOD WE
TRUST" is on this currency. The Latin above the pyramid,
ANNUIT COEPTIS, means "God has favored our
undertaking." The Latin below the pyramid, NOVUS ORDO
SECLORUM, means "a new order has begun." At the base
of the pyramid is the Roman Numeral for 1776.
If you look at the right-hand circle, and check it carefully,
you will learn that it is on every National Cemetery in the
United States. It is also on the Parade of Flags Walkway at the
Bushnell, Florida National Cemetery and is the centerpiece of
most hero's monuments. Slightly modified, it is the seal of the
President of the United States and it is always visible whenever
he speaks, yet no one knows what the symbols mean.
The Bald Eagle was selected as a symbol for victory for two
reasons first, he is not afraid of a storm; he is strong and he
is smart enough to soar above it. Secondly, he wears no material
crown. We had just broken from the King of England. Also, notice
the shield is unsupported. This country can now stand on its
own. At the top of that shield you have a white bar signifying
congress, a unifying factor. We were coming together as one
In the Eagle's beak you will read, "E PLURIBUS UNUM",
meaning "one nation from many people." Above the Eagle
you have thirteen stars representing the thirteen original
colonies, and any clouds of misunderstanding rolling away.
Again, we were coming together as one. Notice what the Eagle
holds in his talons. He holds an olive branch and arrows. This
country wants peace, but we will never be afraid to fight to
preserve peace. The Eagle always wants to face the olive branch,
but in time of war, his gaze turns toward the arrows.
They say that the number 13 is an unlucky number. This is almost
a worldwide belief. You will usually never see a room numbered
13, or any hotels or motels with a 13th floor. But think about
this: 13 original colonies, 13 signers of the Declaration of
Independence, 13 stripes on our flag, 13 steps on the Pyramid,
13 letters in the Latin above, 13 letters in "E Pluribus
Unum", 13 stars above the Eagle, 13 plumes of feathers on
each span of the Eagle's wing, 13 bars on that shield, 13 leaves
on the olive branch, 13 fruits, and if you look closely, 13
arrows. And for minorities: the 13th Amendment.
Why didn't we know this? You probably don't know it and your
children don't know it because no one ever felt it important
enough to tell us about it. Too many veterans have given up too
much to ever let that meaning fade. Many veterans remember
coming home to an America that doesn't care. Too many veterans
never came home at all.
Tell your kids and grandkids what a dollar bill really stands
for. Because if you don't, nobody else will.
Why the American Flag
Is Folded 12 Times
- The first fold of our flag is
a symbol of life.
- The second fold is a symbol of
our belief in eternal life.
- The third fold is made in
honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who
gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country
to attain peace throughout the world.
- The fourth fold represents our
weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is
to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for
His divine guidance.
- The fifth fold is a tribute to
our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our
Country, in dealing with other countries may she always be
right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."
- The sixth fold is for where
our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance
to the flag of the United States of America, and to the
Republic for which it stands one Nation under God,
indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
- The seventh fold is a tribute
to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that
we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies,
whether they are found within or without the boundaries of our
- The eighth fold is a tribute
to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death,
that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for
whom it flies on Mother's Day.
- The ninth fold is a tribute to
womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love,
loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women
who have made this country great has been molded.
- The tenth fold is a tribute to
the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for
the defense of our country since they were first born.
- The eleventh fold, in the eyes
of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal
of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes,
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- The twelfth fold, in the eyes
of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and
glorifies in their eyes, God the Father, God the Son, and God
the Holy Spirit.
- When the flag is completely
folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation's
motto, "In God We Trust."
After the flag is completely
folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat,
ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George
Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Captain
John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates
in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the
rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.
origin of "taps"
We have all heard the haunting melody of "Taps." It's
the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually
tears in our eyes. But do you know the story behind the song?
If not, I think you will be pleased to find out about its humble
Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when
Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near
Harrison's Landing, Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the
other side of the narrow strip of land.
During the night, Captain Ellisombe heard the moans of a soldier
who was severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a
Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his
life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention.
Crawling on his stomach through
the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began
pulling him toward the encampment. When the Captain finally
reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a
Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a
lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock.
In the dim light he saw the face of the soldier.
It was his own son!
The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke
out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the
The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission
to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status.
His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if
he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge
for his son at the funeral. The request was denied since the
soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father,
they did say they could give him one musician.
The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series
of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket
of the dead youth's uniform. This wish was granted.
The haunting melody, which we now know as "Taps" used
at military funerals, was born.
- By Dr. Isaac Asimov
Near the end of his life the great science fiction author Isaac Asimov
wrote a short story about the four stanzas of our national anthem.
However brief, this well-circulated piece is an eye opener from the
dearly departed doctor...
I have a weakness -- I am crazy.
Absolutely nuts, about our national anthem. The words are difficult and
the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I'm taking a shower I
sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every
I was once asked to speak at a
luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing
our national anthem -- all four stanzas. This was greeted with loud
groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of
dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. "Thanks, Herb," I said.
"That's all right," he said. "It was at
the request of the kitchen staff."
I explained the background of the
anthem and then sang all four stanzas. Let me tell you, those people had
never heard it before -- or had never really listened. I got a standing
ovation. But it was not me; it was the anthem.
More recently, while conducting a
seminar, I told my students the story of the anthem and sang all four
stanzas. Again there was a wild ovation and prolonged applause. And
again, it was the anthem and not me.
So now let me tell you how it came to
In 1812, the United States went to war
with Great Britain, primarily over freedom of the seas. We were in the
right. For two years, we held off the British, even though we were still
a rather weak country. Great Britain was in a life and death struggle
with Napoleon. In fact, just as the United States declared war, Napoleon
marched off to invade Russia. If he won, as everyone expected, he would
control Europe, and Great Britain would be isolated. It was no time for
her to be involved in an American war.
At first, our seamen proved better than
the British. After we won a battle on Lake Erie in 1813, the American
commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, sent the message, "We have met the enemy
and they are ours." However, the weight of the British navy beat down
our ships eventually. New England, hard-hit by a tightening blockade,
Meanwhile, Napoleon was beaten in
Russia and in 1814 was forced to abdicate. Great Britain now turned its
attention to the United State s, launching a three-pronged attack.
The northern prong was to come down
Lake Champlain toward New York and seize parts of New England.
The southern prong was to go up the
Mississippi, take New Orleans and paralyze the west.
The central prong was to head for the
Mid-Atlantic States and then attack Baltimore, the greatest port south
of New York. If Baltimore was taken, the nation, which still hugged the
Atlantic coast, could be split in two. The fate of the United State s,
then, rested to a large extent on the success or failure of the central
The British reached the American coast,
and on August 24, 1814, took Washington, D.C. Then they moved up the
Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they arrived and found
1,000 men in Fort McHenry, whose guns controlled the harbor. If the
British wished to take Baltimore, they would have to take the fort.
On one of the British ships was an aged
physician, William Beanes, who had been arrested in Maryland and brought
along as a prisoner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and friend of the
physician, had come to the ship to negotiate his release.
The British captain was willing, but
the two Americans would have to wait. It was now the night of September
13, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry was about to start.
As twilight deepened, Key and Beanes
saw the America n flag flying over Fort McHenry. Through the night, they
heard bombs bursting and saw the red glare of rockets. They knew the
fort was resisting and the American flag was still flying. But toward
morning the bombardment ceased, and a dread silence fell. Either Fort
McHenry had surrendered and the British flag flew above it, or the
bombardment had failed and the American flag still flew.
As dawn began to brighten the eastern
sky, Key and Beanes stared out at the fort, trying to see which flag
flew over it. He and the physician must have asked each other over and
over, "Can you see the flag?"
After it was all finished, Key wrote a
four-stanza poem telling the events of the night. Called "The Defense of
Fort McHenry," it was published in newspapers and swept the nation.
Someone noted that the words fit an old English tune called, "To
Anacreon in Heaven" -- a difficult melody with an uncomfortably large
vocal range. For obvious reasons, Key's work became known as "The Star
Spangled Banner," and in 1931 Congress declared it the official anthem
of the United State s.
Now that you know the story, here are
the words. Presumably, the old doctor is speaking. This is what he asks
Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
"Ramparts," in case you don't know, are
the protective walls or other elevations that surround a fort. The first
stanza asks a question. The second gives an answer:
On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist
of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep.
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner. Oh! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
"The towering steep" is again, the
ramparts. The bombardment has failed, and the British can do nothing
more but sail away, their mission a failure. In the third stanza, I feel
Key allows himself to gloat over the American triumph. In the aftermath
of the bombardment, Key probably was in no mood to act otherwise.
During World War II, when the British
were our staunchest allies, this third stanza was not sung. However, I
know it, so here it is:
And where is that band who so
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The fourth stanza, a pious hope for the
future, should be sung more slowly than the other three and with even
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven - rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto --"In God is our trust."
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I hope you will look at the national
anthem with new eyes. Listen to it, the next time you have a chance,
with new ears. And don't let them ever take it away.
Submitted by Dick, Williamsport, Md.
America: The Good Neighbor
Gordon Sinclair, Canadian television commentator, Originally published, June 5, 1973
"This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth.
Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United
When the France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.
When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped.
The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans.
I'd like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10? If so, why don't they fly
them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly American Planes?
Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon - not once, but
several times - and safely home again.
You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma
and pa at home to spend here.
When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.
I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.
Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I'm one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I
hope Canada is not one of those."
Stand proud, America!
June 10th Humor Page