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The Forgotten Declaration of Independence Signers Who Lost Everything for Signing

July 4th celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Yet these men lost most everything for signing and defying the British Crown.



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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, achieving great prominence in their newly found nation. 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. An act both freeing themselves from the British yoke, and simultaneously marking themselves as traitors against the Crown.

Benjamin Harrison V

Declaration of IndependenceWikicommons

Benjamin Harrison V, a planter by profession, was a member of both Virginia’s House of Burgesses and delegate to the  Continental Congress from 1774 to 1777.

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History must think one traitor deserves another, because in January 1781 Harrison’s Virginia home was destroyed by forces under command of none other than the infamous Benedict Arnold.

George Wythe

Declaration of IndependenceWikicommons

George Wythe, possessing both a reputation as notable scholar and skilled practitioner of law, served as a judge in Virginia. Wythe was party to both signing the Declaration of Independence, as well as serving in the Continental Congress.

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Unfortunately Hamilton Usher St. George, a farmer leasing land on Whythe’s Virginia plantation Chesterville, was a British informant. St. George encouraged four British raiding parties to destroy neighboring farms and settlements along the James river, resulting in the conflagration of Williamsburg due to St. George’s inside information.  

Evan after the eviction of St. George, Wythe’s tribulations persisted. The Yorktown battlefront resulted in the destruction of Wythe’s library and scientific instruments at the College of William and Mary’s fire.

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Paul K. DiCostanzo is the Managing Editor for TGNR. He is a noted public speaker, an emerging historian of the Second World War, a vocal advocate for Crohn’s Disease/Ulcerative Colitis, and highly regarded interviewer. Paul K. DiCostanzo is Co-Host for the A.D. History Podcast. The A.D. History Podcast explores world history of the last 2000 years in an unprecedented fashion; with each episode covering a 10 year period beginning in 1AD, until reaching the present day. Ultimately finding the forgotten, as well as overlooked threads of history, and weaving a tapestry of true world history. Paul is author of the reader submitted Q&A column: WW2 Brain Bucket. The Brain Bucket answers readers submitted questions on all things regarding the Second World War. Paul has served as Managing Editor for TGNR since March 2015. Prior to TGNR, Paul has a background in American National Security and American Foreign Policy.