56 men signed. We recognize few of them, know little about them, and what we do know isn’t always factual. Myth, and even some mystery, surrounds them. But their courage should not be minimized or forgotten – especially on the day we celebrate their work.
As one author writes:
Over the years, we’ve read newspaper articles and junk e-mails seeking to quantify and magnify the suffering of the signers. Every July, their miseries are dusted off and trotted out along with barbecue and flags. It’s a shame that this is the only time of year we think about these men. But it’s even more disheartening when you know that most of the stories are just plain false.
End the end, it doesn’t matter that none of the signers were killed for affixing their name to the Declaration of Independence or that none died in battle. What does matter is that they came together one sweltering summer under distressing circumstances and, and despite huge differences in opinion, backgrounds and values, decided to band together and form a new nation. Doing so was, without a doubt, an enormous, life-threatening risk, and if the colonies had not been triumphant — and honestly, it’s astounding that they were — these men would have surely been, as they used to say back in the day, fitted with a “halter.”
As the Declaration of Independence so eloquently states in its last line, they risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
Happy Independence Day!
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Robert Treat Paine
Charles Thomson (Secretary, attested to Hancock’s signature)