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Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independenceby Joseph D'Agnese
Synopses & Reviews
In July 1776, fifty-six men risked their lives and livelihood to defy the British and sign the most important document in the history of the United States and yet how many of them do we actually remember? Signing Their Lives Away introduces readers to the eclectic group of statesmen, soldiers, criminals, and crackpots who were chosen to sign this historic document and the many strange fates that awaited them. Some died from war-related injuries; others had their homes and farms seized by British soldiers; a few rose to the highest levels of U.S. government (ten signers were later elected to Congress). George Wythe was murdered by his nephew; Button Gwinnet was killed in a duel; and of course Sam Adams went on to fame and fortune as a patriot/brewer. Complete with a reversible parchment jacket (offering a facsimile of the Declaration on the reverse), Signing Their Lives Away provides an entertaining and enlightening narrative for history buffs of all ages.
Presents the lives, deaths, and scandals involving the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, including John Adams, John Hancock, and Thomas Jefferson.
In the summer of 1776, fifty-six men risked their lives and livelihood to defy King George III and sign the Declaration of Independence--yet how many of them do we actually remember? SigningTheir Lives Away introduces readers to the eclectic group of statesmen, soldiers, slaveholders, and scoundrels who signed this historic document--and the many strange fates that awaited them. Someprospered and rose to the highest levels of United States government, while others had their homes and farms seized by British soldiers. Signer George Wythe was poisoned by his nephew; Button Gwinnett was killed in a duel;Robert Morris went to prison; Thomas Lynch was lost at sea; and of course Sam Adams achieved fame as a patriot/brewer. Complete with portraits of the signers as well as a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, Signing Their Lives Away provides an entertaining and enlightening narrative for history buffs of all ages.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Introduction — A clarification : the real Independence Day — I : New Hampshire — Josiah Bartlett : the signer immortalized on The West Wing — William Whipple : the signer who fought for freedom with his slave — Matthew Thornton : the signer who led "The Nation of New Hampshire" — II : Massachusetts — John Adams : the signer everyone loved to hate — Samuel Adams : the signer whose brewery went bust — Elbridge Gerry : the signer who gave us gerrymandering — John Hancock : the signer who signed first — Robert Treat Paine : the signer who objected to, well, everything — III : Rhode Island — William Ellery : the signer who was two degrees from Kevin Bacon — Stephen Hopkins : the signer with the worst penmanship — Samuel Huntington : the signer who became the first U.S. President - sort of — Roger Sherman : the signer who signed everything — William Williams : the signer who was certain he would hang — Oliver Wolcott : the signer who melted King George's heart (and then some) — V : New York — Philip Livingston : the prince of New York — William Floyd : the signer whose home was turned into a stable — Francis Lewis : the signer whose wife was imprisoned — Lewis Morris : the signer buried in one of America's poorest neighborhoods — VI : New Jersey — Abraham Clark : the signer whose sons were imprisoned — John Hart : the signer who slept in caves — Francis Hopkinson : the signer who designed the U.S. flag — Richard Stockton : the only signer who recanted the declaration — John Witherspoon : the signer who was also a minister — VII : Pennsylvania — John Morton : the first signer to die — Benjamin Franklin : the signer known throughout the world — James Wilson : the signer who went broke on shady land deals — Robert Morris : the signer who financed the war - and ended up in debtors' prison — George Clymer : the signer whose homes were targeted by the British — George Ross : the signer related to America's most famous seamstress — Benjamin Rush : the signer who loved to gossip about other signers — George Taylor : the signer who started out as an indentured servant — James Smith : the signer who was coy about his age — VIII : Delaware — Caesar Rodney : Delaware's famous midnight rider — George Read : the only signer who voted against Independence — Thomas McKean : the signer who waited five years to sign — IX : Maryland — Charles Carroll of Carrollton : the last signer to die — Samuel Chase : the signer better remembered as "Old Bacon Face — William Paca : the signer who dared to acknowledge his illegitimate child — Thomas Stone : the signer who died of a broken heart — X : Virginia — Carter Braxton : the signer who had eighteen children — Benjamin Harrison : the signer who played Falstaff to Congress — Thomas Jefferson : the signer who wrote the Declaration — Richard Henry Lee : the six-fingered signer — Francis Lightfoot Lee : the signer who lived in his brother's shadow — Thomas Nelson Jr. : the signer who ordered troops to fire on his own home — George Wythe : the signer who was poisoned by his nephew — XI : North Carolina — Joseph Hewes : the signer who worked himself to death — William Hooper : the signer who feared democracy — John Penn : the signer who taught himself how to read and write — XII : South Carolina — Thomas Lynch Jr. : the signer buried at the bottom of the sea — Arthur Middleton : the signer also known as Andrew Marvell — Edward Rutledge : the signer who delayed independence by a month — Thomas Heyward Jr. : the signer-songwriter — XIII : Georgia — Lyman Hall : the signer who dragged Georgia into the Union — George Walton : the signer who was orphaned, impoverished, abused, shot, and imprisoned — Button Gwinnett : the signer with the $150,000 autograph — Appendix : Text of the Declaration of Independence ; Time line ; The miscellany of independence.
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