Here's another excellent article by my father on our nation's founding.
The book of Joshua in the Old Testament provides a wonderful introduction for this article on the Declaration of Independence. As you will recall Joshua was allowed to lead the Israelites into Israel and one of the first obstacles was the crossing of the river Jordan.
15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priest that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvests).—Joshua 3:14-15
Then the Lord caused the Jordan to be divided even as he had the Red Sea for Moses:
The reason for selecting 12 stones and displaying them was to be a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. Today we Americans also have a memorial that should constantly remind us what God has done for us. The Liberty Bell! It truly represents the liberty that God made possible for us.
By the time the third Continental Congress began the population in general and a majority of the delegates in particular had changed. They were now ready to listen to arguments for independence. On June 7, 1776 Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution. “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be totally dissolved…” It was immediately seconded by John Adams. Although discussed for several days it was finally decided to postpone a vote on it until the first of July. Since several delegations were still not in favor of the resolution and since it was supremely important to present a united front the postponement was a wise decision. During this time John Adams labored night and day on those opposed to it. At that time a committee of five was appointed to draft a declaration, in case the Lee Resolution should pass. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston were appointed. Thomas Jefferson was selected to write the draft because of his gift of writing. Jefferson finished his document and gave it to Franklin and Adams to preview, after their review it was submitted to congress on June 28th, 1776, the Friday before the Lee Resolution was to be considered.
- In early September 1776, the British burned the home of Francis Lewis and seized his wife. Held in a prison with no bed and no changes of clothing, she was finally released after two years of suffering, her health gone. She died soon after her release.
- Philip Livingston’s 150,000 acre estate was seized by the British, but he continued to contribute his dwindling fortune to Congress for the war effort. The strain of the revolutionary struggle also depleted his health, and he died less that two year after signing.
- Lewis Morris’ Westchester estate was ransacked by the British and nearly 1,000 acres were burned. His home was destroyed, his cattle butchered, and his family driven from their home.
- John Hart’s New Jersey home was looted and burned, his grist mills destroyed. While he eluded capture by sleeping in caves and forest, his ailing wife died and his 13 children were scattered. His failing health forced him to leave the New Jersey legislature in 1779, and he died less that three years after the Declaration was signed.
- Joseph Hewes of North Carolina gave tirelessly of himself to create a Navy and help General Washington. Working long hours without adequate food and rest, he lost his health and died in 1779 at age 49.
- Richard Stockton rushed home to Princeton, New Jersey, in 1776 to rescue his family from approaching British troops. He was captured and thrown into prison, where he was repeatedly beaten and kept near starvation. The British also destroyed his home and burned his papers. As a result of mistreatment, he became an invalid and died in 1781.
- William Floyd’s estate in New York was overrun and ruined by the British. He was not able to return home after the war.
- Francis Hopkinson’s home was twice ransacked.
- Abraham Clark had two sons in the Continental Army, both of whom received harsh treatment from the British after they were captured.
- George Clymers’s home in Chester was taken over by the British and he lost more than 100 of his ships during the war.
- Robert Morris issued over a million dollars of personal credit to finance the war effort, and raised $200,000 to defeat the British at Yorktown. In 1798, his personal finances collapsed. Never reimbursed by the country, he spent three years in debtors prison.
- John Morton was criticized bitterly by many of his Pennsylvania neighbors for breaking the tie vote of the Pennsylvania delegation in favor of independence. The criticism depressed him deeply. Early in 177 he became ill and died.
- William Ellery’s Newport home was burned during the invasion of Rhode Island.
- William Williams of Connecticut sacrificed his fortune for the cause, financing a number of enterprises, including the Ticonderoga offensive.
- Carter Braxton saw virtually every merchant ship he owned sunk or captured by the British. Although he lost his wealth and was forced to sell his land, he continued to serve in the Virginia legislature.
- Lyman Hall (of Georgia), had his rice plantation destroyed by the British.
- George Walton also of Georgia, was wounded and captured.
- Thomas Heyward, Jr., served in the army and was taken prisoner. The British raided his plantation while he was in prison and burned his buildings. His wife became ill and died before he was released.
- Arthur Middleton of South Carolina was captured and imprisoned after the British ravaged his plantation.
- Williams Hooper of North Carolina was hunted by the British. He fled, and they burned his home and lands.
- Thomas Nelson, Jr., served as governor of Virginia and distributed large sums of his money to the families of his soldiers. At the Battle of Yorktown, he led 3,000 Virginia militia against the British. Although the British took refuge in homes belonging to Virginians, Nelson troops shelled them anyway. During the engagement, Nelson turned one cannon on his own home and lit the fuse, killing the two British officers inside.