The Forgotten Declaration of Independence Signers Who Lost Everything for Signing
It never ceases to amaze how these U.S. Founding Fathers, among the foremost collaborators in the American Revolution, paid for their treason against the British Crown. It is also astonishing in equal measure how, despite their immense personal sacrifice, they have been all but lost to American history.
From Cromwell to Trotsky, history repeatedly demonstrates that revolutions devour their own children. Despite the constant patriotic thrum that recounts the Olympian deeds of the American founding fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence, they were no exception to this rule. Some who signed that most radical of declarations did survive the struggle to achieve great prominence in their newly found country. Many more, however, sacrificed no less than their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for the liberty they sought by the war’s end. The following names are only 13 signatories of the Declaration of Independence who gave all and more when their “John Hancock” inked that seditious parchment, freeing themselves of the British yoke and simultaneously marking themselves as traitors against the Crown.
Benjamin Harrison V
A planter by profession, Benjamin Harrison V was a member of both Virginia’s House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1777. History must think one traitor deserves another because during January 1781 Harrison’s Virginia home and all of his possessions were destroyed by none other than the forces commanded by Benedict Arnold.
A skilled practitioner of law, Wythe served as a judge in Virginia, and was a noted scholar. He was party to both signing the Declaration of Independence as well as the Continental Congress.
Unfortunately, a farmer leasing land on his Virginia plantation Chesterville was a British spy. The spy, Hamilton Usher St. George, encouraged four British raiding parties to destroy neighboring farmers, settlements along the James river, and the burning of Williamsburg using his inside information. Evan after the eviction of St. George, Wythe’s tribulations continued when the Yorktown battlefront resulted in the destruction his library and scientific instruments at the College of William and Mary fire.
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