In the Spirit of the Signers: A Call to Arms and Folded Hands

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signersForgive me for making you read this a full 10 days after our celebration of Independence Day. This year, though, I cannot help but to continue to reflect on the state of our great country and the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Fifty–six men signed the document penned by Thomas Jefferson. When they added their name to the bottom of the Declaration, they knew they could be endangering their property, their families and their own lives. Nonetheless, the idea “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” was a truth that was bigger than themselves and worth fighting for.

Though the stories about the fate of some of the signers may have grown with the telling, the urban legends do not diminish the fact that the signers were, indeed, committing an act of treason against their country at the time, England. They knew that they may be sought after, imprisoned, and hung.

Hence is told the famous story of the only Catholic signer of the treacherous paper, Charles Carroll. Carroll was the wealthiest of the signers; thus, he had the most to lose. His name, however, was a common one, unlike, say, Button Gwinnett. His father was Charles Carroll, as was his son and other relatives. So, after he affixed his name to the document, a fellow signer remarked that at least the king would not know which Charles Carroll. Thereupon, Carroll added to his signature “of Carrollton.”

Indeed, four men were captured and imprisoned while fighting the British – George Walton in the Battle of Savannah, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Arthur Middleton and Edward Rutledge all during the siege of Charleston. Richard Stockton was dragged from his bed in the middle of the night by local Tories and handed over to the British. He was imprisoned in New York City’s Provost Jail.

Abraham Clark’s two sons were captured and incarcerated upon the prison ship, The Jersey. Francis Lewis’ wife was taken prisoner and held for several months until she and other prisoners were swapped for some wives of British officers.

Thomas McKean wrote to his friend, John Adams, in 1777 that he had to move his family five times in three months in order to escape the British.

Many, including William Ellery, Edward Rutledge, Lyman Hall, George Clymer, George Walton, Button Gwinnett, and Arthur Middleton, had their homes, farms and property occupied, ransacked and looted by the British. Lewis Morris’ home was used as barracks for British soldiers, then burned. When the British came upon and looted John Hart’s farm, he escaped harm by hiding for weeks in the woods.

Thomas Nelson, Jr. lost his home in Yorktown to General Cornwallis, who used it as his headquarters. Rumor has it that he urged General Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette to bombard his home in order to rid it of its current occupants.

Carter Braxton, whose wealth came from the shipping industry, saw his ships appropriated, sunk or captured by the British, thus losing his livelihood. Moreover, he had to sell off much of his property to pay back the incurred debt.

Philip Livingston sold much of his property to support the war cause.

But perhaps the one who gave the most was James Witherspoon whose son John was killed in battle. In imitation of the Heavenly Father, this father gave his son so that we might be free.

The question I pose to you today is what are we willing to give in order to preserve the precious gift of freedom? We must remain free in order to be able to do what we ought to do. The worship of God is our foremost responsibility, from which flows our love and service of others.

There very well may be a price to pay for the millions of babies whose inalienable right to life is violently taken away. God may hold us responsible for the degradation of His wonderful gift of sex through contraception, fornication and homosexual acts. I do not think He wants us to just sit by as religious freedom is eroded in the name of tolerance or universal healthcare.

What price will we pay? More importantly, what can we do now?

We can write our government officials. Get down on our knees and pray for them. Praying the rosary for our country is a powerful weapon we possess.

We are not yet called to give up our livelihood or property, but we can, perhaps, give up a fast food meal, fancy coffee, snack or even a meal. Praise God we do not have to lose a child to the cause; still, for the cause of the unborn, could we sacrifice some time in order to spend it playing a board game with our child or some other such thing? Local pregnancy centers are always in need of volunteers and supplies to help at-risk families. We have our wonderful homes, but there are some who do not. Can we help them some way today? Does the local shelter or food pantry lack food, blankets or even stuffed animals to comfort the homeless? Little sacrifices are never too little when presented with love to an almighty God.

This is a call to arms – or at least folded hands. There is a battle going on, though we may not be able to see it. We cannot be onlookers but must be active participants. God has given us the spiritual arsenal needed to win this battle. It is time to use it!

What can I do as a soldier of Christ for my country?

Copyright 2014 Kelly Guest

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About Author

At the age of 20, Kelly entered the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, TN, receiving the name Sr. Anne Joachim. For five years, she lived and studied religious life. She also completed her secular education while a sister, earning a BA degree in History with a minor in Spanish and a secondary education certification from Belmont University. Sr. Anne Joachim taught eighth grade at St. Rose Academy in Birmingham, AL and fifth grade at St. Henry's School in Nashville. Upon the completion of her temporary vows, she decided to come back home to Maryland, where she met, fell in love with, and, three years later, married the man of her dreams. Kelly and her husband Paul are the proud parents of ten children, one of whom is already in heaven. Along with mothering and homeschooling until high school their nine children, Kelly has been the Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of Fatima in Baltimore and is currently the youth minister at her home parish, St. Bartholomew Church, Manchester, MD.

5 Comments

  1. Linda Sterner on

    What a great article, I did not know that you were such a history buff. You are right about the battle going on in this Country!!! I will try to do more, for my part.

  2. Kelly, very interesting article, I learned a lot. I just wonder, would our leaders of today be will to sacrifice so much? God bless you Sweetie, keep spreading the good news.

  3. Kelly, a very great article. your history degree is so useful now for most of us have forgotten and so sadly our children today are not learning true American history. thanks for reminding us and pointing out that these men did not have getting as their American dream as they were already well off and educated what they brought to this country is their faith in God and their desire to practice it freely and yes prayer and fasting is the answer I pray that you will get many responses on this one. it would be great if one of the local stations would put it on their link God bless you.

  4. kell like always my typing is very poor I left out an important word on third line after the word getting should be the word rich

  5. Kelly,
    I truly loved the history lesson, especially since I was just in Williamsburg where they were commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The second part of your essay brought me to task. I can and will do more in the fight for the Right to Life. Thank you for your wise connection.

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