For us to properly celebrate the birth of our nation, we must understand the story behind the story. These were real men and women who put their lives on the line for the freedom we have enjoyed for many years. It is time we appreciate what sacrifices they made in our behalf to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Here is a summary of those brave people who endured what we have now forgotten. These were not vagabonds or rabble-rousers. They were wealthy establish citizens in the colonies. Five of them were captured and declared traders leaving them open to torture. Twelve of them had their homes ransacked and burned. Two of their sons served in the Revolutionary war. Nine of the signers of the Declaration of Independence fought and died in the Revolutionary War.
Here are some specific examples of individuals who made great sacrifices. Carter Braxton owned a fleet of merchant vessels that were destroyed, his home was sold for taxes, he died in rags. Thomas Nelson’s home was used as a British headquarters. He sent word to the future President Washington asking him to destroy his home. Francis Lewis lost his home, lived in poverty, and his wife was imprisoned to later die. John Hart was forced to leave his dying wife’s bedside while his fields and gristmill was destroyed. His thirteen children fled to never be seen again. He died alone.
Prior to the revolution significant persecution occurred against those who would be free so they might worship God according to Scripture. By the year 1535, fifty thousand people were killed. Ancestors of the faith broke from the Protestant Reformation by declaring that infant baptism was not biblical since Scripture calls for baptism by immersion for those who have accepted Christ. Therefore, believers were encouraged to be baptized and were called Anabaptists. This same group called for the separation of church and state. Like the pilgrims they migrated to the Netherlands in 1611. They were called obstinate and turbulent. They were whipped, fined, imprisoned, and vanquished. In 1644 a law was passed against them referring to the group as infectious trouble of the church.
Here’s some examples of the sacrifices some of those individuals made. In 1527 Felix Manz was imprisoned multiple times by the time he was twenty-nine years old. While there he was bound in a doubled position and later drowned in the river. George Blaurock was whipped and burned at the stake. Michael Sattler had his tongue cut out, was tortured, was burned, and his wife was drowned. Thomas Helwys started the first Baptist Church in England and was imprisoned to be later executed.
As we observe our Declaration of Independence, these heroes have left a charge to us. The comfortable lives we enjoy is the exception to the rule. We must change your mindset to appreciate all that is gone on before and know that trouble is ahead for us at some time in the future. The church is strongest when it is persecuted. The basis of evil in our world comes from the devil himself. We must rediscover the ideals that made America great. We must claim the courage of yesterday.