Setting It Straight

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Over the weekend, I got one of those gawd-awful "patriotic" emails that gives us a little-known lesson in American history and ends with an admonishment (followed by a thousand exclamation points) that I am not a real patriot if I don't send this along because the damn Liberals are taking over the country.

I usually hate these and can see right away that they are urban legends of sorts.

This one was about the fates of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. It is as follows:

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

--Five signers were captured by the British as traitors,and tortured before they died.
--Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
--Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
--Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

--Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

-- Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

--Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

--At the battle of Yorktown , Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

--Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

--John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.

Remember: freedom is never free!

I hope you will show your support by sending this to as many people as you can, please. It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer, picnics, and baseball games.
As always, Snopes to the rescue. Turns out that much of the email is dramatic and creative license of true facts. Sure, some guys lost property; we were invaded by the Brits and they tended to burn shit. Not so much "targeting" DoI signers as just generally being dicks. And sometimes, it was the Continental army that did that stuff.

Now, the end lesson in all of it are that the early Colonials made huge sacrifices to get us where we are today. Like the end of the Snopes article says: "The hardships and losses endured by many Americans during the struggle for independence were not visited upon the signers alone, nor were they any less ruinous for having befallen people whose names are not immortalized on a piece of parchment."

Also, I got the very funny "Letter of Revocation from John Cleese." It's not actually from John Cleese, but it is a snarky and funny letter hereby revoking our standing as a country and reinstating us as a British colony. Hilarious stuff.

5 comments:

Streak 11:23 AM  

Yeah, I think nothing bugs me more of late than this flag-waving kind of shit. What annoys me the most is how little respect these people have for the past, nor for those people. They were real actual live people with sins and flaws and problems. They are not caricatures or cartoon figures that can be made to dance for whatever political ax you have to grind. We should respect them by addressing them as real people.

(word verification: "ducker." So close)

Bob 12:46 PM  

At least I will always know that George Washington really cut down his father's Cherry Tree.

Smitty 1:27 PM  

Yeah, I think nothing bugs me more of late than this flag-waving kind of shit.

ANd there's more and more and more of it. I mean, this whole email ends with "It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin". Why did you have to end the (fallacious) email with that?? Nobody thinks that! No liberal sits there and says "fuck patriotism." Is there anyone out there saying "shhh....don't say nice stuff about America"??

What we DO say is "fuck that stupid shit you are calling patriotism, because it's brainless. Stop calling my dissent UNpatriotic."

Monk-in-Training 5:00 AM  

Lately I have been challenging Christians with "bearing false witness" with some of these emails.

Debunking some of them and sending them back to the sender with an admonition to avoid that particular sin. I always include that I myself have fallen for some of these emotional appeals, and I have!

However as Christians we have a responsibility to verify information like this or we participate in the false witness of the original compilers of the emails.

That has worked with a few, who try to be more accurate.

steves 7:31 PM  

You actually read those e-mails. I haven't got one in a while, but I used to delete them without even reading them.

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