SIGNING THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE–by Cheryl Pierson

Declaration of IndependenceWhat does July 4th mean to you? A day off work? An appliance sale you can’t pass up? A day the banks are inconveniently closed?

In today’s fast-paced world, we sometimes lose sight of what this patriotic holiday means to each and every one of us—because the real reason for it occurred so long ago…over 200 years in the past.

In the “big picture”, 200+ years is not really so far away—we’re a relatively new country, compared to so many others. But because of the frenetic pace our contemporary society keeps, the past is something that’s easy for us to forget.

But think of what the men who signed our Declaration of Independence faced for putting their signatures on such a document…Treason.

united-states-flag_2188_130213397[1]Here’s a little bit about the fifty-six rebels who came together during those hot July days so many years ago, and created the document that could have made or broken a new nation…

Five of these men were captured by the British during the Revolutionary War. Though the signers’ homes were not specifically targeted for looting, twelve of the signers’ homes were occupied, ransacked, and vandalized in the process of the war.

Abraham Clark’s two sons were captured and incarcerated on the prison “hell” ship, Jersey. They were treated with special brutality because of who their father was. When offered their lives if he would recant, Clark’s answer was an anguished, resounding no. John Witherspoon’s son, James, was killed in the Battle of Germantown, 1777.

Francis Lewis’s wife was held prisoner for several months before being exchanged for two British prisoners.

Lewis Morris and Phillip Livingston lost several of their properties. Morris’s home was taken over and used as a barracks for soldiers—by the Continental Army, first; and then, not long afterward, it was “appropriated”, looted and burned by the British.

united-states-flag_2183_58326922[1]The youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence was Edward Rutledge, age twenty-six. Benjamin Franklin, at age seventy, was the oldest. Eighteen of them were under forty—three of these in their twenties. Almost half of the fifty-six men who signed—twenty-four—were lawyers and judges. Eleven were merchants, twelve were doctors, ministers and politicians. The remaining nine were landowners and farmers.

 

Two future presidents signed—John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President).

Those who were not there to sign? George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Patrick Henry.

John Hancock signatureJohn Hancock was one of the richest men in America at the time. There was also a price on his head—500 pounds. He signed with a mighty flourish, in letters so large “that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward.”

I wish I had room to go into further detail about these remarkable men who came together and, in three hot days, hammered out the Declaration of Independence for this great country or ours to be born and recognized.

These are 1337 of the most important words ever written—the birth certificate of a nation.

As we cook our hotdogs and shoot off our fireworks tomorrow, let’s remember the real reason for the Fourth of July holiday, and the other name we call it: Independence Day. And please remember these men who took such a chance with their property, their families, and their lives. They had much more to lose than they stood to gain—but they saw the love of their country sacred above all else.

One Magic Night WebWhat are some of your favorite memories of Independence Day? Leave a comment below, and I will draw two lucky winners for my novella ONE MAGIC NIGHT that takes place in Indian Territory at a 4th of July picnic!

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

Cheryl Pierson
A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
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http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules

28 Comments

  1. Hello Cheryl. I really enjoyed this. it’s such an important thing for America. So many of the children aren’t even taught about all of this history. And teaching less every year. So sad. I didn’t remember about Abraham Clark’s sons. That had to be heart-wrenching. How many would do it today? When the end of time comes if we stay true to GOD, we might or will be asked to do this. I read somewhere today that John Adams and I believe Thomas Jefferson died in the same day.I don’t remember hearing this but then I’ve forgotten many things, sad to say. A special memory of July 4th was when I lived in Jackson Hole, WYoming my parents were there visiting on the 4th. There was a ski mountain right in town. The fireworks were done on the low part of the mountain. It was a beautiful time. But, I will always remember one of the cops had served in the war and when they did the ones that just go up and explode so loud, he would jump. He happened tp be standing near me. It reminded him of the real bombs he had heard. I had never thought of that before. So, remember our servicemen and women at this special day. I would love to win your book. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

  2. Hi Cheryl, thank you for such an interesting and meaningful post. I always love reading about John Hancock. It’s amazing what you can tell about a man just through his signature.

    Have a great fourth!

  3. Cheryl, Thank you so much for this beautiful and informative post. With my mother’s maiden name being Witherspoon, it was always said that a thread of kinship was there.

    Happy 4th!!!

  4. Cheryl – What a poignant reminder of the sacrifice that went into our nation’s bid for freedom. Thank you for the reminder of how much courage and fortitude it takes to stand up for what you believe in. May we all hold such conviction.

  5. Wonderful post!! It makes me want to cry.

  6. Enjoyed reading a bit about our nation’s history.
    My fondest memories of this special day were of picnics with fireworks in the evenings. Family, friends, pets, and mosquitos celebrated this day.

  7. Maxie, hi! So glad to see you here today. Yes, that’s true about Thomas Jefferson and John Adams–ironic, isn’t it? And about Abraham Clark’s sons…I just teared up when I read that. I can’t imagine, as a parent, having to say NO, knowing what my boys were going through. What a horrible decision to have to make.

    Sounds like you had some wonderful July 4th memories! Isn’t it funny how most of us always remember those fireworks especially over everything else? One other thing I remember is how we’d make homemade ice cream and us kids would have to take turns sitting on top of the ice cream maker while the men turned the crank. LOL

    Thanks for stopping by today! I will enter your name in the drawing!
    Cheryl

  8. Hi Margaret,

    You know that’s so true about signatures–back “in the day”, people took such pride in their handwriting. I shudder to think that cursive is being done away with in our public school systems now. I remember my mother talking about how people complimented her on her handwriting, and that when she was growing up, even (born in 1922) people took much pride in their penmanship.

    I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July tomorrow!
    Cheryl

  9. Melanie,

    That’s not a very common name, and I bet if you did some genealogy research you’d find a link somewhere. I’ve got you entered in the drawing! Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I hope you have a fantastic day tomorrow.
    Cheryl

  10. Hi Karen,

    It seems that during that time, men were much more inclined to hold to their convictions than they are today (and women, as well!) I think there are still many of us who do, but somehow it seems that there are just as many who “let things go” and don’t stand up when needed. And I think, how much harder it must have been then when our new nation was being formed, than it is now–once it’s here and has been for over 200 years.

    Food for thought, isn’t it? I hope you have a great holiday tomorrow. With three kiddoes, I bet you’re set to do all kinds of fun things.
    Cheryl

  11. Me too, Goldie! I did, a couple of times, while I was researching this. Oh, there is so much I couldn’t put in for the sake of space! But it’s so interesting! Thanks for coming by, and I’ve got you entered in the drawing. Have a wonderful day tomorrow!
    Cheryl

  12. Joye, my fondest memories were of my dad always taking me to the fireworks stand and us buying fireworks together. I loved those little “snake” things you could light and they’d form the black ash “snake”, and of course those colored-smoke little cherry bombs, sparklers, etc. Had to have the ones that were “quiet” in the city where I lived, since they were banned. But the loud ones we’d take to my grandparents’ house and put off out in the country.

    Good food, family, good times. And mosquitoes, you’re right! LOL
    Cheryl

  13. Some interesting bits I did not know about… fav memories of the fourth… picnics that my family had together when I was a kid… we would go to this state park every year and wait for the wonderful firework display after visiting the wildlife rescue zoo they had…

  14. Hi Cheryl, awesome post! I loved studying the Declaration along with my students in American Lit. How the signers committed treason just by putting down their names…the protest against British soldiers getting to just move in with regular citizens…seeing the Declaration in the National Archives gave me chills and still does.

  15. Inspiring post. A person can never hear that story too many times for what they were willing to sacrifice and the importance of our holding onto it for the next generations– and at far less cost. I like the movie, The Patriot, which of course, fictionalized but brings out the cost involved for the families of that time.

  16. Colleen,

    We lived in a small town so didn’t live near any big fireworks displays–but when my kids came along, we lived in Oklahoma City, so went to one that one of the churches nearby put on every year, and my kids just loved it.

    Cheryl

  17. Tanya, I think that’s one thing that no one stresses anymore in school–that just by signing, they were committing treason. Kids don’t get the full impact of that anymore. You were a good teacher! We need more like you.

    Thanks for coming by today! Have a wonderful holiday tomorrow.
    Cheryl

  18. Rain I love that movie, too–but I sure have to pick my times when I can watch it or I end up a blubbering idiot in a heap. LOL Such a good movie–and great performances by the entire cast.

    Yes, it’s easy in this time to jus forget what came before and all the sacrifices that were made.

    Cheryl

  19. Cheryl,

    I don’t think many Americans realize how much these men sacrificed by scribbling their names on the Declaration. I don’t thing the quill even shook as they boldly laid down their lives for freedom, because in essence that’s what each one did.

    Thank you for this post.

  20. I agree, Kirsten. They wanted it badly, and I wish we could remember today how it must have been then for all of them. Of course, as we’ve said, many of these things are not even spoken about in the classroom, and so how can young people relate? It’s a real shame.

    Hope you have a great holiday tomorrow.
    Cheryl

  21. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post, Cheryl! It seems that so many today do not understand the fortitude these men showed and the magnitude of their willingness to declare independence. May we never forget and always fight to maintain our freedoms! Happy 4th of July!!

  22. You’re so right, Britney! So many don’t even know about the forging of this document and the men who signed it, the risks they took, and it was constantly hanging over their heads and that of their families, as well. Yes, I agree–we need to remind everyone about the true meaning of this holiday.

    Thanks for stopping by. I have your name in the drawing–will draw a bit later on this evening.

    Cheryl

  23. Great article Cheryl.
    We pledge our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor.
    Stirring words and them meant them sincerely.
    If only we could all be so honorable today. Especially our leaders.

  24. Oh, isn’t it the truth, Mary? Things have sure changed in our country, and not for the better. Hope you have a wonderful holiday tomorrow. Glad you enjoyed the post!
    Cheryl

  25. Great post, Cheryl! I’m trying to imagine how frightening and exhilarating it must’ve been for the signers…and wonder if I would’ve had the courage.

    Would you mind sharing the sources you used? I’d love to learn more.

  26. Great article, Cheryl. It is so important to remember the sacrifices made by those patriots over 200 years ago so that this country could be formed on the foundation of freedom and responsibility spelled out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We today must stay vigilant in preserving those freedoms for the future.

  27. Hi Penny!

    You know what got me curious was that e-mail you get every so often that tells about all the hardships they faced…but as with everything, there’s a bit of “legend” mixed with fact in that one. I did some real digging–first, I went to Snopes. http://www.snopes.com/history/american/pricepaid.asp

    This one was a piece written by Rush Limbaugh’s father–all politics aside, it was a beautifully written, dramatic piece, and the facts I used I corroborated with other articles–so it seemed he had done his research. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2040698/posts

    Didn’t use much out of this one but it was interesting:
    http://news.investors.com/management-leaders-in-success/070314-707368-continental-congress-presidents-pushed-nations-independence.htm

    More interesting facts:
    http://www.chicagonow.com/quark-in-the-road/2014/07/25-curiosoties-about-the-signers-of-the-declaration-of-independence/

    If you’re like me, you can spend the hours lost in this stuff–it’s really fascinating! So glad you enjoyed the post, Penny. We must be kindred “research” souls. LOL
    Cheryl

  28. Robyn, I remember when my kids were in highschool–they graduated in 2005 and 2008. Even then, there was so little time spent on this type of thing. I always “supplemented” my kids’ education every way I could, because I knew they were missing so much in public school. We depend on our schools to teach history, but they don’t teach anything other than what’s on the standardized testing, and so much is lost. So, it falls to us as the adults to remember and teach and preserve that history as best we can. Thanks so much for coming by, and I hope you have a wonderful July 4th!
    Cheryl

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