On Freedom

“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.”  American Declaration of Independence, adopted in Congress, July 4, 1776

Freedom. Liberty. This is what we will be celebrating this July 4th, the day that our country officially declared its independence from Great Britain. So, as your family goes about celebrating the official birth of this great nation that is America, please remember our Founding Fathers, those great men who were willing to risk so much so that we all could be free. There were 56 signors to the Declaration of Independence. Have you ever wondered about who these ordinary men were?

  • 18 were businessmen or merchants
  • 14 were farmers
  • 4 were doctors
  • 22 were lawyers
  • 9 were judges
  • 2 were clergyman, 1 of whom was still active and wore his vestments at every meeting
  • 1 was a governor
  • 42 served in their local state legislatures (part-time positions, many without pay)
  • 18 were self-taught or apprenticed (including Benjamin Franklin)
  • 16 had a divinity school or seminary education (including Thomas Jefferson)
  • 7 were educated at Harvard
  • 4 were educated at Yale
  • 4 were educated at William & Mary
  • 3 were educated at Princeton
  • 9 were immigrants
  • 2 were brothers
  • 2 were cousins
  • 1 was an orphan
  • All had some sort of spiritual belief in God, represented in one of the following sects: Anglican, Congregationalist, Deist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Quaker, Roman Catholic, Unitarian
  • 17 fought as soldiers in the American Revolution
  • 5 were captured by the British, one of whom died while in prison
  • 1 was hounded by the British, and had to move his family 5 times during the war
  • 12 had their homes and properties destroyed

All signors were men of means, from all walks of life and spiritual influences. Many held multiple jobs in order to feed their families. They knew full well what would happen if the American Colonies officially declared independence from the British Crown. War would come. The risk was great. Their jobs or fortunes could be lost, properties destroyed or confiscated, and businesses interrupted or bankrupted. They could be captured, wounded, or killed. Their families could be harmed or left destitute. Yet they all stood united, willing to sacrifice it all for the sake of liberty and thereby epitomizing E pluribus unum (Latin for “out of many, one”).

Our Founding Fathers fought the American Revolution so that all could be free to shape their future, with little interference from the government.  As Thomas Jefferson once said, only the “timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.”  True freedom is never free, there is always a price to pay, and our not-so-timid Founding Fathers knew that.

The question I have for you now is this: are you timid or are you free?

 “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” Patrick Henry (1736-1799), American Revolutionary soldier, lawyer, farmer, politician

For more information on our Founding Fathers, check out www.ushistory.org or the National Archives at www.archives.gov.

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