The Signers Pledging Lives and Fortunes

Advance of the Enemy
A. W. Thompson
probably New York, 1885
Courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society
Hartford, Conn.

Pledging Lives and Fortunes

While none of them was destined to hang as traitors, they did suffer for the cause. Benjamin Harrison's plantation on the James River near Williamsburg was plundered by Benedict Arnold's troops. Francis Lewis' New York home was burned, and his wife, Elizabeth, imprisoned in the autumn of 1776, an ordeal that contributed to her death in 1779. In December 1776, John Hart of New Jersey fled his home shortly before the British seized it, and the 63-year-old man sent his children to relatives and hid in the wilderness. The town and country homes of Lyman Hall of Georgia were burned and confiscated by the British in 1778; Hall and his family fled to Connecticut for the duration of the War. South Carolinians, Thomas Heyward, Jr. and Edward Rutledge shared Arthur Middleton's imprisonment after the fall of Charleston in 1780. Thomas Nelson of Yorktown, Virginia, depleted his fortune supporting the War for Independence, and when asked for advice as to where to direct the bombardment of Yorktown in 1781 suggested American troops fire on his own home, which he suspected might be the British headquarters.

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