Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Happy 4th of July 2013!

Tom Hogan, Chester County District Attorney, former Tredyffrin Township supervisor and my friend, wrote the following on his Facebook page today for the 4th of July …

I whistle “The Star Spangled Banner” late at night when I leave work. I have a hand-painted picture of the flag done by my kids hanging in the office. I visit Valley Forge in the winter once a year, take off my jacket, and shiver as I think about Washington’s troops. I am now, and always will be, proud to be an American. Happy Fourth of July.

Thank you Tom for your words and for your service and dedication to keep the citizens of Chester County safe!

As you enjoy this special day of celebration, please take time to reflect on the journey our founding fathers began 237 years ago. I posted the following narrative, “What Happened to the 57 Men who Signed the Declaration of Independence” a couple of years ago and thought it special to repeat today. (The source of the information –

As you enjoy your own 4th of July holiday, silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid; remember, freedom is never free.

What happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

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 of the Revolutionary War. 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 she 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.

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