The 18th-century is a novelists's dream. It was a time of tremendous uphheaval on every level. Colonial America is truly the era where "fact was stranger than fiction." It's easy to draw characters and events from this time period because such a wealth of things were happening. Here are just a few:
The 4th of July is the celebration of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by the the 2nd Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 which gave the colonies freedom from England. The men who signed this document knew full well the penalty would be death if they were captured (they were English citizens betraying their mother country, England).
Ever wonder what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
Carter Braxton of Virginia was a wealthy planter and merchant who saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He died in rags.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she lay dying. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his 13 children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.
Thomas McKearn was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in Congress without pay.
Francis Lewis was one of many signers who had his homes and properties destroyed. The British jailed his wife and she died a few months later.
5 other signers were captured by the British and tortured to death as traitors, 12 had their homes ransacked and burned, 9 died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War, etc.
Here are some other little known facts (things they don't teach you in school):
At least 2 attempts were made by the British to kidnap Martha Washington.
Patrick Henry was known as a rabble-rouser who kept his mad wife locked in the basement of their home (she lost her mind after the birth of a child).
George Washington refused to live in anything other than a tent during the brutal winter at Valley Forge until all his men had proper lodging.
Special days of prayer and fasting were instituted during the war out of desperation because fighting England was such a lost cause. All of the colonies participated. After each of these days events began to turn in our favor.
John Adams said of our Independence Day, "It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore"
Happy 4th of July!