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.
James Wilson is one of the most outstanding Founding Fathers that few are familiar with. He not only signed the Declaration, but was also influential in the work of creating the United States Constitution. Moreover, President George Washington appointed Wilson to be a justice on the nation’s first Supreme Court.
After signing the Declaration of Independence, Wilson successfully defended 23 residents of Philadelphia from exile and property seizure following British withdrawal from Philadelphia. Not long after though, a drunken riot of Philadelphia radicals besieged his home, where he and 35 compatriots barricaded themselves, dubbing their stronghold, “Fort Wilson.” Local Continental Army units broke up the riot, and extricated Wilson and company.
Trained as a surveyor, Abraham Clark switched to law, teaching himself while still working as a surveyor. Once he went into practice, Clark was well known for defending cases of the poor who otherwise could not afford council.
Of the ten children he had with his wife, two sons in the Continental Army were captured by the British, tortured and beaten. One son was placed on the notorious British prison ship Jersey. Captain Clark was thrown in a dungeon, was rarely fed and only so much as fit through the cells keyhole. The British offered Clark his sons life if he would recant his support for Independence.
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