THE RUM REVOLUTION; AND THE FATE OF THE ORIGINAL SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
While we enjoy our family cook-outs, softball games, and fireworks displays, let’s not forget to remember the sacrifices of those original American patriots who sacrificed so much for us today to have the privilege of being Americans.
Why did they do it?
Usually, revolutions are in response to poverty. But at the time of the Revolution, the American colonies were, by the standards of the time, a wealthy and privileged place. America was the most prosperous part of the British Empire. Since the 1770s, the average American family enjoyed a higher standard of living than anywhere else in the world!
So why did the Founding Fathers risk so everything when they already had so much?
The answer, of course, was liberty.
At the time of the Declaration of Independence, the American colonists were taxed by the Mother Country, England, while not being allowed representation in Parliament. “Taxation without representation” became the casus belli of our revolution.
Further, the quartering of British redcoats in American homes became an unbearable irritant to the colonists. The British army of the period was recruited from the worse elements in English society; often directly out of jails. They were a crude and profane bunch; repugnant to the religious sentiments of the American burgers.
What most of us don’t remember today, was that for the American colonists of the day, one of the final goads that sparked rebellion was a tax by King George’s ministers on an American essential: rum!
At the time of the revolution, the average American drank enough alcoholic beverages to make a modern American stuperous! And rum was a favorite, all-occasion beverage. Estimates of rum consumption in the American colonies before the American Revolutionary War had every man, woman, or child drinking an average of 3 Imperial gallons (13.5 liters) of rum each year!!
When they signed the Declaration of Independence, the signers made themselves rebels against the most powerful empire in the world. And though familiarity with British forces during the French and Indian Wars had bred a bit of contempt, as Americans saw at close-hand that the British were far from invincible; the signers could have been under no illusions that a war of independence would be anything but difficult and perilous to all they held dear.
Despite any misgivings that they might have felt, they took the ultimate leap of faith and of patriotism; and risked all to break free of the bonds that tied them to the Mother Country.
As you read below of what became of these original signers of our Declaration of Independence, remember just how much they sacrificed for the liberty so many of us take for granted today.
Liberty… And the right to drink as much cheep booze as you care to!
THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: THE COST OF LIBERTY
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the
Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before
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 of the Revolutionary
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
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 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 or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, 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. He 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 enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as he was dying. Their 13 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. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn’t just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government!
Some of us take these liberties so much for granted…We should not.
So, take a couple of minutes while enjoying each and every 4th of July holiday, and silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.