Happy 4th! (A little long...apologies there)

Happy 4th everyone! Here's a little something to think about today. (I suggest reading the last part, if nothing else - NOI)
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 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 of 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 shewn 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 refuted 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 mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations 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 legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the 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 a 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 benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring 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 into 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 burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy 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 endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an 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 attentions 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. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. 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 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 levy 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.
--John Hancock
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
= (Now, for what happened next:)
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 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Who were these "super-patriots"? Most were well-educated, prosperous businessmen and professionals. Two dozen were lawyers or judges; nine were farmers or plantation owners; eleven were merchants. Among them were also physicians, politicians, educators, and a minister; several were sons of pastors.
Here is the documented fate of that gallant fifty-six.
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 Nelson, Jr., of Virginia, raised $2 million to supply our French allies by offering his property as collateral. Because he was never reimbursed by the struggling new government, he was unable to repay the note when it came due ? wiping out his entire estate. In the final battle of Yorktown, Nelson urged George Washington to fire on his home as it was occupied by British General Cornwallis. Nelson?s home was destroyed, leaving him bankrupt when he died.
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.
Vandals and enemy soldiers looted the properties of Bartlett, Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Gwinnet, Walton, Heward, Rutledge, and Middleton; the latter four captured and imprisoned.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
After signing the Declaration, Richard Stockton, a State Supreme Court Justice, rushed back to his estate near Princeton in an effort to save his wife and children. Although he and his family found refuge with friends, a Tory betrayed him. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and beaten by British soldiers. Then he was jailed and deliberately starved. After his release, with his home burned and all of his possessions destroyed, he and his family were forced to live on charity.
John Hart was driven from his wife?s bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen 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 broken heart
Lewis Morris and Philip Livingston suffered fates similar to Hart?s.
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.
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.
In all, five of the fifty-six were captured by the British and tortured. Twelve had their homes ransacked, looted, confiscated by the enemy, or burned to the ground. Seventeen lost their fortunes. Two lost their sons in the army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six lost their lives in the war, from wounds or hardships inflicted by the enemy.
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.
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Thanks, I think I'll read this to my kids today. -- Terry M.

respect
People
to
Prudence,
hath
has
the
Representation
uncomfortable,
to
have
Consent
altering
with
and
destroyed
ages,
an
ties
inevitably
in
these
States,
to
Clymer,
Thomas
judges;
swept
poverty
weeks
Boston
his
freedom.
Rodney
in
of
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