Those Who Stood Up and Signed Part 5
I still remember how our Social Studies in high school drilled into our minds how the signers of the Declaration of Independence were risking their lives signing that document. That they were, yet they were not going to allow themselves to be bullied to by any music celebrity, actor, anyone who considered themselves “royalty”, or anyone regardless of their religious beliefs, sexual preferences, country of origin or gender.
Much like their world, in today’s world, standing up for a certain political view can get you seriously injured or killed. Neither side has a monopoly on peace or love. If you dare defy an anti-Trump protester one can get seriously hurt, injured, tortured on Facebook, or killed. The events in Charlotte, NC have shown us that that evil organization, the KKK is still active too.
I want us to better understand these 56 men who were willing to risk everything for their country. So, in the following weeks, I am going to tell you about them, in alphabetical order mostly. I am not sure how many weeks it is going to take. I guess it will be based on how much I can actually find out about them as individuals.
Most of the biographical information will be taken from The Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence which gives extensive bios of each of the signers. Here, I shall highlight some of the parts of their lives that showed their character and spirit.
Joseph Hewes (1/23/1730-10/10/1779) was born in Kingston, West Jersey, though he made North Carolina his home as an adult. North Carolina was the state that he represented at the Continental Congress. He received an firm grounding and “indoctrination in the ‘Puritan Ethic of diligence, hard work, and thrift as the prerequisites for success” (https://www.ncpedia.org/biography/hewes-joseph). Because he had little success in his first business, he moved to North Carolina. There he thrived richly. As his fortunes increased, so did his political position. He was never convinced that rebellion was the only answer until the fighting at Lexington and Concord. He strove for a peaceful resolution until that. After that, he was fully committed. However, after the signing, he retired from public office two years later due to health problems. He died not even three years later.
Thomas Heyward Jr. (7/28/1746-3/6/1809) was born to a successful South Carolina family that grew rice, indigo, and cotton. His father was very passionately pro-British. He sent his son to university in England and young Thomas saw first hand how the English stratified the classes, especially those from the colonies. He came back to America (after touring the rest of Europe) fully committed to the cause of independence from Britain. His father initially was very saddened by Thomas’ desire for independence but they reconciled before the elder Heyword’s death. He accepted a commission in the South Carolina Militia and received a gunshot wound. He was also captured and held as a POW. He withdrew from public life in 1799 and died at the age of 63.
William Hooper (6/17/1742-10/14/1790) was born to a preacher’s family in Boston, Mass. His father groomed him for the pulpit, but William fell in love with the law. He learned law under James Otis, a colonial-rights extremist. He moved to North Carolina, where he became very sick. When his father died, he did not inherit much. His wife footed the bill during the lean years of the revolution. In 1769, he was appointed by the British, Deputy Attorney General for the King in the Salisbury District Court. He also stood for colonial-rights and worked tirelessly for them. He only played with the idea of total independence. “He chaired several committees, one to prepare a resolution for a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer to be observed throughout the Colonies.” When push came to shove, though, he signed for independence. His health continued to decline despite the fact that he had a thriving legal business and he passed away and was buried in North Carolina.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.