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The founders of our nation knew the great cost of freedom. Yet they willingly put themselves on the line for the idea of liberty that springs eternal in the human heart. Signing the Declaration of Independence became a death warrant for those who affixed their signatures. Fifty-six men signed the Declaration. Of those fifty-six, five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost sons in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured by the British. Nine more died from wounds or other hardships caused by the war. Carter Braxton was a wealthy trader and planter from Virginia. Braxton saw his ships sunk by the British Navy. He sold his home to pay his debts and died in poverty. During the battle of Yorktown, British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas Nelson’s home for his headquarters. Nelson urged General George Washington to open fire on the Nelson home. Nelson’s home was totally destroyed, and he died in bankruptcy. John Hart was forced to flee from his home where his wife lay on her deathbed. His thirteen children were forced to flee as well. His property and his mill was destroyed. For over a year, Hart lived in the forest and in caves. When he was finally able to return home, he found his wife dead, and he never saw his children again. In a few short weeks, Hart, too, was dead from exhaustion. They knew the high cost of freedom.

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