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|This Fourth of July, remember the signers|
As Americans celebrate this 4th of July with family picnics and backyard barbecues, the Oakley Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution ask that citizens reflect on the price The Revolutionary War patriots paid in giving birth to the United States of America.
According to 'Family Bible records'...
• Winnsboro City Clerk Roxie Fletcher is a descendent of Robert Morris, 24th signer of The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. Morris, a delegate to the Continental Congress from Philadelphia, Pa., is described in history as a wealthy merchant and man of integrity who played an essential role in financing the success of the war against England. Morris died in poverty at the age of 73.
• Winnsboro Sonic Restaurant Supervisor David Heyward is a descendant of 39th signer, Thomas Heyward Jr. of South Carolina. Heyward is described in history as an American patriot of great wealth; an honest, intelligent and fearless statesman, soldier and judge from South Carolina and delegate to the 1776 Continental Congress. He was later captured by the British; his properties looted and destroyed. Eventually set free, Heyward died in 1809 at the age of 64.
Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 — including Morris and Heyward mentioned above — five 'signers' were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships.
What kind of men were they? These 56 men were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians ... they were soft-spoken, men of means and education. Along with countless other Patriots, they had security — but they valued liberty more! They signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
• Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners.
• 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 McKean was hounded by the British until 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.
• British soldiers looted the properties of Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward (mentioned above), Rutledge, and Middleton.
• At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.
• Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The British captured his wife and she died within a few months.
• John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying; his fields and gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year Hart lived in forests and caves, and died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the sacrifices of The American Revolution. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, the 'signers' pledged: "For the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." (Submitted by DAR secretary Marian Johnson).