In a Legislative Update Friday, Minnesota state representative Glenn Gruenhagen shared a passage, Men Who Paid Freedom's Price; Our nation's founding fathers knew how to count the cost of liberty, along with his best wishes for a glorious Independence Day weekend.
Bluestem plans to enjoy good food, fireworks, and the always astonishing parade in sunny Maynard; as we write, the Maynard Firemen's Street Dance is well under way.
Gruenhagen doesn't know the source of the passage he shared, but Bluestem was able to find several versions of it. An exact match turns up in Men Who Paid Freedom’s Price, the Christian Action League's (CAL) Memorial Day 2015 message; the CAL notes that the passage was "taken directly from from The Rebirth of America, 1986, Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation," although CAL didn't note which author included in the anthology wrote it.
The CAL is a North Carolina Christian group with "roots in the days of prohibition and grew out of the Anti-Saloon movement." The Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation is known for its "Life: A Beautiful Choice" ads, contributions to the Christian Right, and a scandal over the non-profit's jet that flew the surviving members of the DeMoss family around, though not mostly to its international and domestic missions.
Gruenhagen and the DeMoss Foundation want you know that the Founding Fathers were not a bunch of dirty hippies, but rich dudes:
Whatever ideas you have of the men who met that hot summer in Philadelphia, it is important that we remember certain facts about the men who made this pledge: they were not poor men, or wild-eyed pirates. They were men of means, rich men, most of them who enjoyed much ease and luxury in their personal lives. Not hungry men, but prosperous men, wealthy landowners, substantially secure in their prosperity, and respected in their communities. . . .
That should come as a blow to The Pirate Party, but probably not to the late progressive historian Charles Beard.
There seems to be agreement on this part of the statement: Ben Franklin, Tom Jefferson and the rest were not dirty hippies. Unfortunately for Glenn, some of the rest of the message is straight-to-Snopes material:
Of the fifty-six, few were long to survive. Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes, from Rhode Island to Charleston, sacked, looted, occupied by the enemy, or burned. Two lost their sons in the army. One had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six died in the war, from its hardships or from its bullets.
There are other, longer versions of the message that date back to Paul Harvey, but all of them include some variation on this:
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? What fates befell them for daring to put their names to that document?
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.
Snopes debunks it here as a mixture of true and false. Bluestem is always perplexed by false accounts of the American War for Independence; we worked at Franklin's Library Company of Philadelphia (used as a reference library during the First and Second Continental Congresses, as well as for the Constitutional Convention). The real stories of the Founding Fathers should do well enough on their merits without painting them as victims.
Have a glorious Fourth!
Photo: Founding Father and original life hacker (post office, electricity, harmonium, fire departments, libraries, etc) Ben Franklin. Definitively not a dirty hippie.
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