Celebrating the 4th & Remembering the Cost of Independence

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July 4th, 2018, Americans will celebrate our county's 242nd birthday with most of us having a day off from the everyday grind of work, enjoying cookouts, fireworks and gathering with family and friends...most will never give a second thought to the true meaning and actual cost for the freedom and liberty that we celebrate. I hope to touch the hearts of the few that read this post.

The 4th of July actually became a federal holiday in 1870, and a provision was added in 1941, to make it a paid holiday, but the traditions of celebrating go back to the 18th century.

What people tend to forget is that the signing of the Declaration of Independence wasn't the end of the war, in fact the Revolutionary War didn't officially end until September 3, 1783, with the Treaty of Paris. Since our educational system seems to care little about the details of our country's history, unless people have taken it upon themselves to read historical events, most people today (especially those under the age of 40) have no concept of the sacrifice and achievements that were made by the heroic individuals that signed that historic document which still rest as the cornerstone of this great country's foundation.

A Bit of History

When the initial conflicts at Lexington and Concord broke out on April 19, 1775, very few colonists actually wanted to be complete independence from England. By the middle of the following year, the thoughts of independence were growing at the same ever-increasing pace of hostilities between the colonial and England. Animosity towards the king and England were inflamed by both British acts, word of mouth and publications, such as Thomas Paine's pamphlet in 1776, entitled "Common Sense".

At a meeting of the Continental Congress at the Pennsylvaina State House in June 1776, a heated debate grew from a motion calling for independence. The resolution had been introduced by Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee. A decision to postpone the vote was made, and in its place a five member committee of Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R, Livingston of New York, were appointed to draft a formal statement as to why the colonies should break away from England.

The resulting document, which was mostly drafted by Thomas Jefferson, and was presented to the Continental Congress and on July 2, 1776. With the presentation of the committee's document, Lee's resolution was voted on and passed. Only one delegate, a delegated from New York, did not affirm the resolution, and he later changed his vote from abstained to affirmed. Two days later, on July 4th, 1776, fifty-six delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Prior to the beginning of the revolutionary war, the colonist held celebrations for the king's birthday. The celebrations included such things as parades, ringing bells, speeches and bonfires. By the summer of 1776, there were some colonist that were now celebrated the birth of independence. They went as far as to have mock funerals for King George III, in order to symbolize the end of his monarchy's hold on them, and to celebrate liberty and freedom in his p, ace.

The following summer, July 4, 1777, Philadelphia would hold the first annual commemoration for their independence, even though congress was focus on the ongoing war with England. Festivities for the event included parades, concerts, bonfires, and the firing of both muskets and cannons. Most important of all, they held the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1778, just nine months after the battle of Sarasota, a battle that became one of the major turning point of the Revolutionary War, General George Washington issued his troops a double ration of rum to each of his soldiers to mark the anniversary of the country's independence. Three months prior to the final key American victory of the war, which was at Yorktown in 1781, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.

It would be another two years before Great Britain would reluctantly sign the Treaty of Paris which was negotiated by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay. Thomas Jefferson and Henry Laurens were also commissioned to be a part of the negotiations; however, travel delays caused Jefferson's absence and Laurens was captured by the British and was being held in the Tower of London.

To this point my post has given you a bit of the history and a few of the early celebrations following the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

As we celebrate this July 4, 2018, at some point in time I hope you will take a second or two and think the men who actually signed the document, who they were and what it meant.

Please remember that by signing the document, the fifty-six signatories were committing treason, and if captured, they risked death, and not a quick death. At that time the process for executing those committing treason against the crowned would be hanged until they became unconscious. Then once they were revived, they would be disemboweled, after which they would be quartered, and their parts boiled in oil, and then burned with their ashes scattered in the wind as if they never existed.

Our Founding Fathers valued the prospects of freedom, not just for themselves, but for their posterity to be of such importance, they felt that signing the document to be worth the risk. Below tells what happened to just some of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Of the fifty-six signatories, twenty-five of them were lawyers or jurist, eleven more were merchants, nine others were farmers or were owners of large plantation. One of the signers was a teacher, another one was a musician and one signatory was even a successful painter. All the signatories were men of means, and each was well education.

Nine of those that signed the decorations died fighting in the war for our independence, either from their wounds or from the hardships they suffered during the fighting. Two signers lost their sons in battle. Five were captured by the British, and in turn brutally tortured as traitors. Two others had sons that were captured as well. Lastly, at least a dozen of the fifty-six that signed the decoration ended up having their homes pillaged and burned.

John Hancock's wife had just given birth to a baby girl, at the time British army was advancing on Philadelphia. Hancock and the Continental Congress fled to Baltimore as the British advanced. During the trip, Hancock's baby girl lived only a few months from complication that arose from the move.

For William Ellery's signing the document proved to cost him his entire fortune. In December 1776, his house was burned during the three days the British occupation of Newport, Rhode Island.

For Richard Stockton, who was a New Jersey State Supreme Court Justice, after signing the document, rushed back to his estate that was located near Princeton and found that his wife and children were having to live with friends like refugees. Once back a Tory sympathizer betrayed his family and Stockton's whereabouts. One night shortly thereafter, British troops pulled him out of his bed, beat him and tossed him into jail. In the time he was there he nearly starved to death. Upon is release, he returned home to find his estate had been looted, all of his possession had been burned, and his livestock and horses taken. The treatment in prison had taken a savage toll on him, he was so poorly treated that his health generated to the point that Judge Stockton died before the end of the war, leaving his family to live their remaining lives off of the charity of others.

A wealthy planter and trader, Carter Braxton ended up with one of his ships captured by the British navy. He also, loaned money to the "American Cause", which was never paid back. In the end he was forced to sell his plantations and mortgage his other properties to pay all off his debts.

The British hounded Thomas McKean relentlessly forcing him to almost having to constantly move his family, Simultaneously keeping his family in hiding he served in the Continental Congress without pay.

For Livingston, Hopkinson, Hall and Clymer, had either vandals or soldiers or both looted to loot their properties taking everything they owned. In total, of the fifty-six signers, seventeen ended up losing everything they owned.

Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton and Thomas Heyward, Jr., all of which were from South Carolina, were captured by the British in 1780 during the Charleston Campaign. All of them were kept in the St. Augustine Prison dungeons until a prisoner exchange a little over a year later.

Thomas Nelson, Jr. during the battle and siege of Yorktown, noted that his home was being used by the British General Cornwallis as his headquarters. General George Washington, at Nelson's insistence, opened fire on Nelson's own home. By the end of the battle Nelson's home was completely destroyed. Nelson, himself, would later died completely bankrupt.

The British jailed Francis Lewis's wife for two months, and destroyed his home and his property. His wife's treatment while in jail, along with other hardships from the war impacted her heath to the point that she died only two years later her release.

"Honest John" Hart was a New Jersey farmer who was actually driven from his wife's bedside as she laid near death. Their thirteen children were also forced to flee for their lives from the British. Hart was able to eludes the British for over a year mainly utilizing the forest surrounding the area of his home, not knowing where his next night would be spend, often utilizing the caves in the area as well. When he was finally able to returned home, he found out that his wife had indeed died, his children had disappeared and not been heard from since, and his farm was completely destroyed, and his livestock gone. Without ever seeing any of his family again, Hart died prior to the end of the war in 1779.

These are just a few of the stories and of the sacrifices that were typical of the men who risked everything when they signed the Declaration of Independence. They were not rabble-rousers as depicted by the British at the start of the revolution. They were for the most part soft-spoken men, well educations and from families of wealth or means,. Each had security and could have remained safely bound to the Crowne, but they all valued the one thing far more than security, the one thing that always comes with a heavy price, freedom and liberty. At the signing of the Decoration of Independence, they all stood tall and straight, and gave an unwavering pledged:

"For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

It would be great if all Americans would take the time to understand the actual history of what transpired to give birth to the greatest nation on earth. Too many people want to erase the things that show what it truly takes to have freedom and liberty, and try to paint America as the great villain. They want to change the face of our nation to a utopia that has been tried time and time again, and failed each time. The history of our country is full of great accomplishments, most of which has always come at great sacrifice. The darker parts of our history are there as well, and will always be there. Just like all the accomplishments, they cannot be erased. But America's great qualities out number her bad qualities by more than one hundred to one. God Bless Our Great Country, the United States of America, she is a beacon of light.

After emerging from the signing, a friend as 81 year old Bejamin Franklin, "well Doctor, do we have a republic or a monarchy?" Benjamin Franklin answered, "A Republic, if you can keep it."

Happy Birthday USA 2018

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Recent Comments


We all need to relearn our history. The details you provided were indeed forgotten by me. Thanks.

Thank you so much for reading. Not only do people forget...children today are being taught history that has been rewritten with a progress, politically correct slant which paints our country as "the bad guys." The true history of our country is being swept under a rug, hoping that it never surfaces. Freedom and Liberty are not a part of a socialist agenda...

I hear you...totally agree.

Excellent reminder of what the 4th is all about, thanks!

Thank you Brenda...So many of our youth today are never taught about what our independence was all about, and what cost there truly were....and so many that have een taught need reminding...it idn't much, but it is my part for our country

That was a good read . Well done

Thank you so much....people just tend to forget or in today's are, have never been taught...we as a country need to remember...


Thanks for the great post. It was fun reading it. So many things have been erased from our nation's history, but the truth is there if we search for it.

I never take this great country for granted, and am thankful for the freedoms we have.

There is indeed a great cost to Independence. Freedom is not free, there was a huge cost to our freedom that we all enjoy.


Thank you for the kind words. When I was in middle school, I ended up having to do a project for history class. To make a long story short, it led me to want to learn more about the men who valued freedom and liberty so much, that they were willing to risk everything for it. It not only allowed me to learn about the lives of each if the fifty-six men who signed the declaration, but also led me to the writings of Jefferson, Adams and Franklin. From there later onto the Federalist Papers and out Constitution.

I am conservative buy nature, and a total Constitutionalist in my heart and whatvI belive in politically...which come straight from understanding what our Forefathers designed as a blue print and road map for or out great country.

Even though our forefathers were from what today people would consider a much more simpler time...if the were to read and understand the history surrounding the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, they would be able to understand that it is its simplisty and straight forwardness that is its beauty. And why if followed, can stand forever. Thanks Again, Ted

Good job Ted!

Thank you...hope you enjoyed

Thanks for enlightening us Ted and enjoy your day.

Thank you for reading...hope you enjoyed the post...and maybe even read so things you were not already aware of...

Great post! I don't think I was taught any of the hardships these signatories went through.

So many of us never have a second thought about what America is truly all about, then there are those who think they know what America is all about. Signing of the Declaration of Independence is only a part of what is America. It shows not just the resolve and determination each man had that signed it, but how unselfish they truly were.

In today's terms they would each be considered very well educated, and extremely well off financially. They were willing to sacrifice all they had, including their lives, giving up all their securities for just the opportunity for freedom and liberty, not for just themselves and their families, but for everyone. Not for just that point in time, but forever moving forward.

It is a great example of looking forward!

Thank you
I am Aussie, ( no excuse!) so don't know a great deal about the history of the USA, I know some, but, thank you for telling me so much more about your great country and the traumas suffered by your forbears and why you celebrate so wonderfully, the achievements of those who have gone before you!!
I wish you well
I know you all will stand very proud of the exceptional country you are

You are welcome... this is only a brief point in time of our country's history, but without it...there would be no USA

Great post!! Thanks for reminding me of why we celebrate this.

Tried and True


You are welcome...It is only a small bit of history that our country has now seemed to have forgotten

Thanks for such a great post.

You are welcome...its is only a small piece of our history that seems to have been neatly forgotten or swept under a rug

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