On July 4th each year, we celebrate America’s independence. Many people have paid a tremendous price for us to enjoy the freedom and the benefits we have in the United States. For example, have you ever wondered what happened to those who signed the Declaration of Independence?
For the record, here’s a portrait of the men who pledged “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” for liberty many years ago.
Fifty-six men from each of the original 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
John Witherspoon of New Jersey was the only active clergyman to attend. Almost all were Protestants. Charles Carroll of Maryland was the lone Roman Catholic.
Seven of the signers were educated at Harvard, four at Yale, four at William & Mary, and three at Princeton. Witherspoon was the president of Princeton, and George Wythe was a professor at William & Mary. His students included Declaration scribe Thomas Jefferson.
Seventeen signers fought in the American Revolution. Thomas Nelson was a colonel in the Second Virginia Regiment and then commanded Virginia military forces at the Battle of Yorktown. William Whipple served with the New Hampshire militia and was a commanding officer in the decisive Saratoga campaign. Oliver Wolcott led the Connecticut regiments sent for the defense of New York and commanded a brigade of militia that took part in the defeat of General Burgoyne. Caesar Rodney was a major general in the Delaware militia; John Hancock held the same rank in the Massachusetts militia.
The British captured five signers during the war. Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton were captured at the Battle of Charleston in 1780. George Walton was wounded and captured at the Battle of Savannah. Richard Stockton of New Jersey never recovered from his incarceration at the hands of British Loyalists. He died in 1781.
Thomas McKean of Delaware wrote John Adams that he was “hunted like a fox by the enemy – compelled to remove my family five times in a few months.” Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured by the British during the war.
Eleven signers had their homes and property destroyed. Francis Lewis’s New York home was razed and his wife taken prisoner. John Hart’s farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey, and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Nelson, both of Virginia, lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort but were never repaid.
In the Revolutionary War there were 25,700 Americans killed.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN said, “And people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety.”
He went on to say to the other signers on July 4, 1776, “We must all hang together, or, assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
PATRICK HENRY stated, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
JOHN ADAMS the second President of the United States said, “Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it.”
As Americans we must be very thankful for the liberties that have been provided for us through the sacrifice of others, including all of those who have given their lives in the service of this great country.
But there is still a great price to pay for this country, and one of the ways that price is paid is in the prayer closet.
“1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 KJV
We must put first things first. I believe the reason many Christians are failing in their Christian walk and are not feeling satisfied in life, is because they are not putting first things first. And one of the areas the Bible tells us we are to put as a top priority is praying for our leaders, which obviously includes the leaders of our nation. And this would include the President and Vice President, the House and Senate, the Supreme Court, the Governors of each state, and so on.
Too many people fought for the freedoms we have today to see them all diminished or even disappear all because the Body of Christ refuses to take their place in prayer, and pray for America.
America needs your prayers more today than ever before in the history of our nation. Time is short. The gospel of Jesus Christ must have free course both across our nation but also going our from our nation. And anything or anyone that would serve to stop that, hinder it or side track it must be defeated, first and foremost in the arena of prayer.
So take your place in prayer, and pray for America.