Women of Washington

Communicating America’s Founding Principles

Women of Washington is an educational organization with a focus on understanding local, national, and global issues that are critical to our world today.

Declaration of Independence Part 2

Declaration of Independence - Part 2 

The Declaration of Independence can be read in under 5 minutes!  However, following up on the participants' names and the human stories during this epic time in U.S. history can be inspiring.  In this document, which would be presented to the British Monarch, the Continental Congress listed 27 grievances signifying the extent to which the Colonists suffered at the hands of the British.  In summary, they wrote of their inhumane treatment:  "...works of death, desolation and tyranny...with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages..."  The mood was serious in Independence Hall on July 4, 1776, after Congress approved, and its President, John Hancock, signed the Declaration of Independence.  On August 2nd, when the full compliment of Representatives from the 13 Colonies were assembled, they each added their signatures to the historic document.  The 56 signers knew that signing this document was tantamount to signing their own Death Warrants, as this public act would mark them as traitors to the British Crown.  Their strong beliefs in their cause propelled them to "...mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

The following list illustrates the fate many signers experienced due to their loyalty to the cause of Freedom:
~ 9 did not survive the Revolutionary war
~ 5 were captured by the British and tortured*
~ 2 lost sons in the war
~ 2 had sons captured
~ 12 had their homes pillaged and burned. 

*Americans captured by British forces were starved and tortured in prisons like Provost Prison in N.Y., and the British Prisoner Ships.  The British military decommissioned and stripped-down 16 ships, anchored them in the New York harbor, and used them as brutal dungeons between 1776 to 1783.  Well over 12,000 American prisoners died from neglect aboard these ships, as compared to 4,435 American lives lost in battle in 6 years of war. 
Next Constitution Corner installment will be on your WOW web site, March 24, 2017