Women of Washington

Communicating America’s Founding Principles

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CONSTITUTION CORNER - Article 4

Declaration of Independence

After Signing the Declaration of Independence 

When the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence affixed their name to that document, they knew they were committing treason; that they were taking on the most powerful military force on earth with a ragtag army and militias made up of farmers and merchants.  Benjamin Franklin famously said as he was signing: "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”  Indeed, many of the signers fought, some were captured, some lost their homes, their fortunes and sometimes their families.  

We know the result of their great gamble with liberty:  they won our independence and as a result, we now live lives of health, opportunity and prosperity that were unimaginable in the times of the Founders.  In days past, children read and understood the biographies of the Founding Fathers.  Sadly, we have lost that veneration of our heroes.  Some of the stories may still have a familiar ring to some of us but many have been lost to the cobwebs of history. 

 What the signers did following the war gives further testament to the greatness of the men that assembled in Philadelphia that sultry summer.
  • Fifteen participated in their state constitutional conventions
  • Six signed the U.S. Constitution
  • Thirteen became governors
  • Eighteen became state legislators
  • Thirteen became U.S. Congressmen.
  • Two became Supreme Court Justices
  • Three became vice president
  • Two later became president
  • Five played major roles in the establishment of colleges and universities
  • One became the lead negotiator in the Louisiana Purchase and later founded the first steamboat company.
 In future Constitution Corner articles we will delve more deeply into the lives of a select number of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, with the purpose of shedding light on the significance of their commitment to fighting for America’s freedom from the pernicious tyranny of the British monarchy.  

Next Constitution Corner installment will be on the WOW website, May 5th, 2017.