This is a multi-post thread. It begins here.
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.
– Declaration of Independence
The 56 Americans who signed The Declaration of Independence gave themselves to the cause of freedom with a keen awareness of the consequences of their decisions and actions. They were not men who had nothing to lose. They were not losers or freaks. 24 were outstanding attorneys. Nine were wealthy plantation owners. The other 23 were all men of distinction.
They had everything to lose for the sake of freedom: their life and their dreams, their families, friends, homes, business and careers, station and properties.
At the signing of the Declaration, they pledged their lives, their fortune and their sacred honor. Some would give everything they had – including their lives.
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Thomas Nelson, Jr. of Virginia, one of the signers of the Declaration and a man of considerable means and influence, assumed a personal debt of two million dollars to provision the rebel army. Nelson paid the debt without any assistance from our government. He died bankrupt and was buried in an unmarked grave. For our Freedom, the blessings we enjoy today, and the prosperity for which we give thanks, Thomas Nelson, Jr. gave everything.
John Hart of New Jersey owned a successful farm and served as a Justice of the Peace before the war. During the war, the British looted his property. At one point, he and his children were forced to flee from his home and leave his wife who could not be taken from her death bed. Hart hid in the wilds for a year. When he returned home, he found his wife had died, his children gone, and his farm laid to waste. He died a year later of a broken heart. Hart gave his life and his fortune for our freedom.
Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut was the son of a Royal Governor, he attended Yale and enjoyed a successful career as a military officer. Before the war, he enjoyed the rank of a Brigadier General and all the privileges and lifestyle accorded to such rank and responsibility. During the war, the British burned Wolcott’s home and carried off his property. When the war was over, he had nothing. These were the consequences of Wolcott’s signature and pledge.
A National Debt
All 56 made great sacrifice when they pledged their life, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Nor should we forget the countless Americans who fought and suffered through the American Revolution. History has judged them and their sacrifice. The award of history’s court is awesome. For we happily and undeservedly enjoy the fruit of their labor and sacrifice.
But our debt is not only to the men and women of the American Revolution, the list is long, indeed. Our debt is also to all great Americans who have moved us forward in our course to better things.
This debt, however, does not exceed our means – unless we are stone-hearted and selfish.
Like any great debt, it will not be repaid easily or quickly.
Nor is it a debt that our government can pay from the public coffers as our proxy.
It is a debt that demands our individual service – our time, our attention and our sacrifice to carry ourselves forward and together in solidarity… on a course for a more expansive freedom and dignity.
We must not just be ready to give – hypothetically speaking. But we must give nothing less than… our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. Obviously, that doesn’t have to mean, killing and dying.
School House Rock: Fireworks
11 April 2011
Copyright 2011 by Stan Faryna. All Rights Reserved.