Nine of the 56 died during the Revolution, and never tasted American independence.
Five were captured by the British.
Eighteen had their homes -- great estates, some of them - looted or burnt by the enemy.
Some lost everything they owned.
Two were wounded in battle.
Two others were the fathers of sons killed or captured during the war.
Lewis Morris of New York, for example, must have known when he signed the Declaration that he was signing away his fortune. Within weeks, the British ravaged his estate, destroyed his vast woodlands, butchered his cattle, and sent his family fleeing for their lives.
Another New Yorker, William Floyd, was also forced to flee when the British plundered his property. He and his family lived as refugees for seven years without income. The strain told on his wife; she died two years before the war ended.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, an aristocratic planter who had invested heavily in shipping, saw most of his vessels captured by the British navy. His estates were largely ruined, and by the end of his life he was a pauper.
The home of William Ellery, a Rhode Island delegate, was burned to the ground during the occupation of Newport.
Thomas Heyward Jr., Edward Rutledge, and Arthur Middleton, three members of the South Carolina delegation, all suffered the destruction or vandalizing of their homes at the hands of enemy troops. All three were captured when Charleston fell in 1780, and spent a year in a British prison.
Thomas Nelson Jr. of Virginia raised $2 million for the patriots' cause on his own personal credit. The government never reimbursed him, and repaying the loans wiped out his entire estate. During the battle of Yorktown, his house, which had been seized by the British, was occupied by General Cornwallis. Nelson quietly urged the gunners to fire on his own home. They did so, destroying it. He was never again a man of wealth. He died bankrupt and was buried in an unmarked grave.
Richard Stockton, a judge on New Jersey's supreme court, was betrayed by loyalist neighbors. He was dragged from his bed and thrown in prison, where he was brutally beaten and starved. His lands were devastated, his horses stolen, his library burnt. He was freed in 1777, but his health had so deteriorated that he died within five years. His family lived on charity for the rest of their lives.
In the British assault on New York, Francis Lewis's home and property were pillaged. His wife was captured and imprisoned; so harshly was she treated that she died soon after her release. Lewis spent the remainder of his days in relative poverty.
And then there was John Hart. The speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, he was forced to flee in the winter of 1776, at the age of 65, from his dying wife's bedside. While he hid in forests and caves, his home was demolished, his fields and mill laid waste, and his 13 children put to flight. When it was finally safe for him to return, he found his wife dead, his children missing, and his property decimated. He never saw any of his family again and died, a shattered man, in 1779.
Today we have the world imploding around us and we are again being divided into Tories and Patriots/Traitors. The Tories are supportive of our government's policies, methodology and war mongering. They have very real ideas about social engineering, ethnic cleansing and firm, oppressive government to control the people. Fear and terror are their favorite weapons, they encourage the youth to rebel against their parents and neighbors to report neighbors. All kinds of behaviors earn a place on the Domestic Terrorist lists today: gun ownership, home schooling, Ron Paul supporters, flying the Gadsdon flag, subscriptions to certain magazines, espousing any "Founding Fathers" rhetoric, hording food or precious metals, paying with cash and now the purchase of MREs makes you a potential terrorist.
The pot is beginning to boil and you need to know where you stand and why. I believe that the majority of Americans are good, honest people. There are decent people within the Republican camp, decent people within the Democrat camp and decent people that maintain no alliaance to either party. I believe that the folks on the Domestic Terrorist list will eventually number more people than those that support the destruction of our country and I believe that when the dust settles we will pick up the pieces and rebuild this country. The Founding Fathers knew this was going to happen and I hope you know it too. Freedom never comes without a cost though and there can be no fence sitting, Ben Franklin said that they should all hang together or they would surely hang separately. We need to build the relationships that will sustain us and fortify us as we face an uncertain future. We all know how this ends, but none of us know how long the trip will take or who will be lost along the way. Tell your children to keep their eyes open, we're living through historical times that generations in the future will read about. Be someone that you can be proud of.