Monday, July 30, 2007

Who knew our secret lives were this dreadful?

Just when I was getting the hang of ignoring links to the British dance-techno-house music duo "The Freemasons" in my Google Alerts, along comes a god-awful band from Asheville, North Carolina calling themselves "Secret Lives of the Freemasons."

Despite the rave reviews that they have self-published on their MySpace account, I gotta say, these guys stink. Yeah, I know, that's a value judgment on my part, and who am I to judge? Someone must love them, since it's all over Google today that they've just been signed to Victory Records! Like I know who Victory Records! is. Or even what "hardcore/screamo/emo" is supposed to sound like.

The people who wrote the reviews posted on TheirSpace have terrible taste in music, in my not-so-humble opinion. But I like the reviewers' writing — some very clever imagery there. Too bad they wasted their best turns-of-phrase promoting this band. Every song I listened to sounded like Dr. Frankenstein resurrected Joey Ramone, Bob Mould, and Ozzie Osborne, welded them to a drummer marching to a different drum, and sent them to audition to be Disney-girl Hannah Montana's backup band.

What a waste of a perfectly good band name.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gentlemen, start your engines: Scottish Rite goes back to the NASCAR track

Scottish Rite's NASCAR fascination continues. Beginning August 11, you can watch the SR's new #95 car, driven by Blake Feese, go round and round the track in ARCA/Re-Max races on the Speed Channel and ESPN2.

Now sponsored jointing by the Scottish Rite and PocketExpress (mobile wireless software), Feese is a two-time winner on the ARCA circuit.

Holding this program together is DSH Racing Enterprises, consisting of Joe Hill, Mark Davidson, and Ronnie Smith in association with Sadler Racing.

Here's the schedule:
  • ARCA 200, Nashville Speedway, ARCA, August 11 – 2:30PM, Speed Channel
  • ARCA 150, Gateway International – St. Louis, ARCA, August 31 – 8:00PM, Speed Channel
  • Hantz Group 200, Chicagoland, ARCA, September 8 - TBA, Speed Channel
  • Dover 200, Dover, Busch Grand National, September 22 – 3:00PM, ESPN 2
  • Sam’s Town 250, Memphis, Busch Grand National, October 27 – 3:00PM, ESPN 2
  • O’Rielly Challenge, Texas Motor Speedway, Busch Grand National, Nov. 3 – 3:00 PM ESPN 2
  • Ford 300, Homestead FL, Busch Grand National, November 17 – 4:00PM, ESPN 2
Maybe this time the Scottish Rite can pull this off. They've got the marketing angle covered. You can buy nifty Scottish Rite NASCAR stuff at the Scottish Rite Racing Store. Polo shirts, dress shirts, t-shirts, hats and coffee mugs are available, but no beer koozies.

Zoom, zoom.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

There's a 24-hour Blogathon going on for charity

This morning at 6 a.m. Pacific Time, a Blogathon began. A Blogathon is a charity event, where bloggers sign up ahead of time, and promise to blog for 24 hours, making a new post approximately every 30 minutes.

I stumbled upon this about half an hour ago at a site called Philly Transplant because he'd just posted something about Masons and the Shrine.

While I was reading that, a new article popped up with a trivia question, so I answered that.

No way I'm gonna sit up the next 10 1/2 hours and watch him add new posts every 30 minutes, but I will drop by again from time to time to see what's shakin'.

Somehow in all this they're raising money for charity. Philly Transplant's charity is Shrine Children's Hospitals. Sparky Duck chose the Shriners Hospitals as his charity because his wife benefited from a Shrine hospital's care when she was a child. Read her story here.

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Is today's Freemasonry what you expected when you petitioned to join?

Bro. Isaiah Coffey, publisher of the blog Kingdom of Conscience, is a 29-year-old Prince Hall Affiliated Mason in Atlanta.

Recently he sent out the email reprinted below to his local lodge brethren. He has asked me to post it here on the Taper, in hopes of getting a large response from Masonic readers here, so that he can "take these results back to my lodge and show the Brethren what a 'world-view-generalized-opinion' others may hold in regards to our fraternity."

Masons who read the Taper are asked here to take some time to read and ponder the questions, and then post your replies in the comment section, or send by private email to me at


— W.S.

Good day Brethren,

At the end of one of my previous meetings, I had the privilege to speak with our Assistant District Deputy and a Past Master of our lodge about the "subtle" or "drastic" changes that have occurred within our Order over the Level of Time.

As I had stated within the conversation between the two gentlemen, " generations and time has passed, the Secretary's desk has went from quill pens and parchment paper to laptops and Word documents."

"Our Tapers have gone from real burning flames to electric orange flames, that have a strange back-alley-late-night-neon-sign flicker."

Times have changed, people have changed, methods have changed, but the message should always remain the same.

Granted, Freemasonry is a personal travel and a means for personal growth, but whatever happened to the collective growth as a whole? Or, did it ever exist at one point in time?

A student of History must go through many lessons and lectures before he becomes rightfully degreed as a Historian. In reward of his countless hours of personal study, he may thus begin his work as an archaeologist. As an archaeologist, he can not excavate a site by himself. In addition to the knowledge gained by his personal studies, he still needs to have a team of experts (nice synonym would be Masters) that will assist him with the dig. Now due to the fact that they are working together, more ground can be covered and more treasures can potentially be found.

A student of the Craft must go through many lessons and lectures before he becomes rightfully degreed as a Mason. In reward of his countless hours of personal study, he may thus begin his work as a Master. As Gnostic archaeologists, we cannot excavate a site by ourselves; we need a team of Masters (nice synonym would be Brothers) that will assist each of us with our prospective digs. As we begin to dig or search together, more texts can be covered and more esoteric knowledge (a Freemason's treasure) that is buried beneath spiritual truths can potentially be found.

I asked the question "Is Freemasonry Recognizable?" because I wonder... how many older Brothers of our Craft may or may not show up to Lodge meetings because Freemasonry of today is not recognizable to them? There are no fraternal excavations at the current moment. What keeps an archaeologist and his team excited and ready to work is simply the hunt for the possibility of treasure. Have all the treasures of Freemasonry been found that only social celebrations of the findings from the past take place?

I'm almost certain that everyone is aware that it is quite evident that a temple needs the Cap-stone just as much as it needs the Corner-stone. The Temple needs the older Brothers just as much as the newer Brothers. The Craft needs Brethren, who are well traveled, to guide and point in the direction the younger Brethren (like myself). Now, whether one takes the path that is less traveled or well traveled will be up to those that were given the direction. The Truth is, both paths have been traveled; those Brethren who are familiar with those paths (whether unpopular or popular) can serve as a trust-worthy guide. These path or paths could equate with Fraternal Knowledge.

I have a few questions that I would like to pose; some questions may pertain to you, while some may not, while there's a chance that you may be able to answer each of the questions respectively. So for the "Older Brothers," "Younger Brothers," or rather all Brethren that have sought the Light of Freemasonry:

1. What has changed (good or bad) in your eyes over the course of time?

2. What do you miss the most about the Craft that doesn't take place anymore?

3. What is your opinion of the Brothers of today as in contrast to those when you were Initiated, Passed and Raised?

4. What did it mean to be a Freemason "back in your day?"

5. What is your perspective on the Fraternity as a whole?

6. Is your perception of the Craft the same as it was when you first were made a Mason?

7. Is Freemasonry what you thought it would be?

A) If it is, what does Freemasonry mean to you?

B) If not, what did you expect Freemasonry to be?

"...for the man who thinks that because he hath been made a Mason, and is called so, and at the same time will willfully neglect to attend his Lodge, he may be assured he will never make a good Mason, nor ought he to be looked upon as a good member of the craft. For if his example was followed, where would be the Lodge...." — Prince Hall, A Charge Delivered To the Brethren of African Lodge, 1792

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Is it okay to talk to non-Masons about your Masonic obligations?

Many Masons these days feel that the only secrets of Freemasonry are the due guards, signs, grips and passwords, and say that anything else we know about Masonry is okay to discuss with non-Masons. If it's written in the minutes, they say, it's alright to talk about it.

Some believe that the rituals should be sacrosanct and never mentioned. Some jurisdictions only have a few copies of the ritual, coded into a cipher. Others print their rituals out verbatim, for anyone to read.

Some brothers hold a very strict view, and feel that nothing that goes on behind a tyled lodge door should ever be discussed outside the lodgeroom.

Are our obligations secret? Or is it permissible to tell the world what they are?

What do you think? Please participate in the poll and also leave a comment about what you think or about what your jurisdiction mandates.


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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Masons in the 'City of Brotherly Love' remain as racially segregated as in 'The Heart of Dixie'

Usually when there's a local news story about a Masonic lodge or event, it's standard fodder. The reporter quotes a member, usually a Worshipful Master or Past Master, who says "we're not a secret society, we're a society with secrets." A joke is made about ruling the world or secret handshakes, Masonic charity and good works are cited, the average age of a Mason and the dwindling membership is mentioned, and reference is made to some famous Freemason, usually a U.S. president. Basically, if you've read one of these articles, you've read them all. Only the names and locations change.

So I was surprised by a brief statement buried in what otherwise was just another of the same ol' same ol'.

This article is from suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, once a hotbed of revolutionary Masonic thought. Philly's nickname, "The City of Brotherly Love," is an obvious Masonic reference.

The article is about a local lodge planning to put up a new, larger lodge building. Mixed in with the standard yadda-yadda was this rather unexpected statement:

"The lodge currently has 300 members, all of them white men. Traditionally, the Masons have encouraged blacks and women to form their own groups."

Philadelphia is 45% white and 43% black. Why in this city of 1.5 million people, famous for freedom, liberty and brotherly love, are white Masons and black Masons not sitting together in lodge as brothers? I thought it was just us here in the South who hadn't gotten past the race thing. I thought enlightenment had already spread across the northeast.

Guess not.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Illuminati disinformation fails to disprove Masons are not masterminding New World Order

A brother from Australia has posted eight convincing proofs that Freemasonry doesn't control the world and isn't conspiring towards a New World Order.

Convincing, that is, to the masses.


We here at Illuminati Central commend this brother's work in helping us mask our conspiracy with his deftly diabolical disinformation discourse. He will be well-rewarded, and given access to further Hidden Mysteries.

Image: SPECTRE agent Vladek Kronsteen controlling the world via a chess board

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Graffiti and Masonic calipers

An "old and ugly" ashlar has finally been smoothed.

The four-star Renaissance Providence Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island, opened in May in a never-completed Masonic building whose cornerstone was laid in 1926.

After two years of construction, the Masons abandoned the unfinished building when they ran out of money. (Five years later, during the height of the Great Depression,
Bro. Fredrick I. Dana, the treasurer for the Scottish Rite Trust of Rhode Island, the group who was paying for construction, was sent to prison for embezzlement.)

The uncompleted building sat idle until 2004, when hotel developer Sage Hospitality of Denver started work on the property.

In 1926, the estimated cost to complete the opulent, monumental building as a Masonic center was $2.5 million. Completing it as a luxury hotel in 2007 ran the bill up to $100,000,000.00 (one hundred million dollars). Typical rates for one of its 272 rooms are between $199 and $319 a night. Parking is additional, at $25 per day.

Two artistic themes were used, in various combinations, in the interior of the hotel. Since the building had spent its life "on the streets," so to speak, it was covered with three-quarters of a century's worth of graffiti. The hotel developers chose to carry on this theme by decorating many of the guestrooms and the hotel's restaurant with graffiti, some of it done by local street graffiti "artists" who a few years earlier had practiced their art on the unfinished Masonic building.

Blended with the graffiti are neo-Masonic symbols, including what is being called Masonic "calipers." An eye in a triangle, which they call "the all-knowing eye," is visible in the staircase banister leading to the hotel's restaurant, which is called "The Temple Downtown."

Official hotel site
Article from The Providence Journal
Article from The Boston Globe
Flash slideshow of exterior sketches
Photo slideshow of interiors
Fun facts about the building

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Five posts you meet in Heaven

Bro. Tom of the Tao of Masonry has tagged me with the latest meme-game, which is to write a blog entry about your five best blog entries, or more to the point, about "the five posts that you feel identifies, or gets to the core of, your blogging."

That's simple for me. Just look in the sidebar under the title "The Burning Taper Backstory." Consider parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Small Town Freemasonry series to be one very long article. Then add "Why I'll never be Worshipful Master," "An unexpected thing happened today," and "Widow's Son goes back to his lodge." These articles, by definition, are the "core" of my blogging. They are the story of why I began to write the Burning Taper blog, and about my experiences as I've traveled this road.

So that's four articles.

I think "Sun of God" rounds things out well, in defining my Present Moment.

So that's five.

I'm going to be a radical, and change the rules, and tag EVERYONE.

But I'll toss in an idea to make it easy for you to play.

Just create a "Best of [your blog name]" section in your sidebar, and when you write something you think is especially meaningful or important, add a link to the article there.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hindu shouted down by 'Christian patriots' as he prays in U.S. Senate

Last week the U.S. Senate had a Hindu priest give their opening invocation.

As Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Parma, Ohio attempted to speak, three unruly "Christian patriots" seated in the public gallery shouted him down.

One of them chanted, "Lord Jesus, forgive us Father for allowing a prayer which is an abomination in your sight. You are the one, true living God."

Ante Nedlko Pavkovic, Katherine Lynn Pavkovic and Christan Renee Sugar were arrested and charged with unlawful disruption of Congress.

The conservative American Family Association had been asking its members to protest via email and letters to senators because Zed, the first Hindu to offer the senate prayer, would be "seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god."

Debi Hartley, a Christian from Mobile, Alabama, wrote her senator to express her outrage that a Hindu would be allowed to say a prayer in Congress. "This is where the problems lie in our country... compromise!"

"Our founders expected that Christianity — and no other religion — would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples' consciences and their right to worship," the conservative fundamentalist-evangelical Family Research Council said on its website.

What utter bullshit, Widow's Son said on his blog.

"They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference," the group's statement continued, according to an article on "As for our Hindu priest friend, the United States is a nation that has historically honored the One True God. Woe be to us on that day when we relegate Him to being merely one among countless other deities in the pantheon of theologies."

Woe indeed.

Watch it on YouTube or below.

Image: Shiva

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Masons gone wild!

I've had such blogger's block the past few weeks that I couldn't even muster up an article about blogger's block.

I've also had several business and personal issues to deal with — all good — but time-demanding.

The Burning Taper may have dimmed a bit for a couple of weeks, but the Light will never go out. My thanks to all who sent messages of inquiry and concern.

I noticed a couple of amusingly noteworthy Masonic-related online items in the past few days. One is about Shriners, and the other is about The Burning Taper itself.

The Giant Napkin
is a parody website, a sort of junior The Onion wannabe. On July 5, the site ran a fake story about drunk Shriners crashing their little cars into the crowd, killing 12, during a Fourth of July parade in Greenville, South Carolina. The story ends with a fake quote from a fake Shriner: "We didn’t think it was a very big deal. Before a parade, we usually drink even more than that."

Apparently, quite a few Shriners were distressed, not that a parody had been published, but that drunken Shriners had killed 12 people with their little cars. In other words, a lot of people initially believed the story to be true! The article and later accompanying commentary was emailed all over Shrinerdom, judging from the number of email addresses attached to forwards sent to me by an anonymous (to you) amused Shriner. Emails circulated among the Shriner list trashed The Giant Napkin's publisher as a "joke" for writing such "crap." Apparently these particular Shriners fail to see humor in satire and parody. I mean, stereotypes that lead to parody already exist in the public's mind; otherwise, the story wouldn't be written. The image of drunken Shriners is a part of the American psyche, thanks to, well, to drunken Shriners. The story had just enough "truth" in it to be almost believable. "It could happen," as they say in the movie Magnolia.

One emailer wrote:
While I was "on the line," and especially when I was Potentate, I tried hard to see that there was no drinking by our paraders. I feel confident other Temple officers, as well as non-officers, have made, and are making, the same attempt. Unfortunately, we occasionally miss one or more who seem unable to
function without "a little lubrication." but I think that overall our efforts have paid off and our units have performed soberly and delightfully....
That a Past Potentate should write something like this on a semi-public forum at all indicates that the drunken Shriner stereotype has its basis in fact.

Like I said, it's amusing. No judgment on my part; it's just funny. I understand. I'd want a drink or three myself before I'd paint my face like a clown and climb into a tiny little car.

Over on the Masonic forum Novus Ordo Saeculorum, under the heading "I am fed up with Freemasons trying to destroy Freemasonry," Bros. Bill McElligott, Theron Dunn, Pythagoras, Prometheus, Peter and someone using the screen name The Widow's Son (not me) have struck up a conversation about The Burning Taper. I guess I should be flattered, that after not posting for the better part of a month, I'm still on their radar screen.

Bro. Bill led off the thread citing several past stories from the Taper, saying "The Burning Taper blog, it seems is heel [sic] bent on spreading bad news about Freemasonry." He took me to task for incorrectly saying that the city of Perth was in England instead of Scotland in a story from November, 2006 about a woman who was raped soon after leaving a late-night function at a Masonic hall. He didn't think I should have mentioned the Masonic sheriff who granted special favors to a Masonic prisoner at all. And he dismisses some other Taper stories with "so what?"

And indeed, so what?

He closed his post saying the Taper and a "couple of other masonic sites... need a kick up the preverbial [sic]."

Pythagoras responded with "The questions that seem to linger are why do these 'brothers' seem to spew forth from these blogs, seemingly doing more to hurt Freemasonry than help it. More importantly, why do these 'brothers' not seem to be concerned with how their action may be affecting the craft."

The other The Widow's Son joined the chorus by accusing me of having a "nanny complex."

Nanny or not, I certainly do hope that The Burning Taper is "affecting the craft," in a positive way, by bringing the fraternity's flaws and its challenges to light. For too long, "good Masons" have tried to hide the dirty laundry. No wonder the public thinks of us as drunk, secretive baby-killing Satan worshipers. Few Masons will speak out to expose the problems or dispute the conspiracy theories.

Bro. Theron Dunn, a prolific Masonic poster everywhere but here, joined the frenzy with "Well, fact is, anyone can post on that blob [sic]. I suspect, based on the lack of source and total antimasonic agenda that they are not masons that are posting. There are trolls out there, Connie Mack Berry, a convicted Felon being just one of them, that lives throgh [sic] sock puppets to attack masons.

"Burning Taper makes absolutely no attempt to verify identity, and posts like that you note Bill are likely just more antimasonic propaganda. The RAPE you note has nothing to do with masonry other than a very tenuous association... it would be like stating the RCC raped her after attending mass... typical antimasonic BS.

"I wish JP would attend the Burning Taper a bit more closely."

Let me interrupt the narrative here and say that, until now, based on what I had read previously by Bro. Dunn on various forums, I had a certain degree of regard for him. I even spoke up for him when an anonymous poster left unfavorable comments here on the Taper back in May, calling Bro. Dunn a "grand lodge buttlicker."

My respect for him has faded after reading Bro. Dunn's comments suggesting that "JP," by which I can only assume he means Bro. Jeff Peace, is in charge of this blog or of what I write.

And yes, Bro. Dunn, anyone, even you, can post comments on The Burning Taper. So what? I have no desire to run yet another private club secret forum where a small number of people can snicker and pontificate in private. We do it in public here, thankyouverymuch.

Let me see if I have your rules straight: You and your Masonic droogies can hide behind closed forum doors and make snide remarks and post inaccurate information about other Masons, including me, but somehow it's wrong when I post an article about Masonic goings-on in the world that may cast an unfavorable light on the fraternity.

Back to the forum comments....

Peter, an administrator of the Novo Ordo Saeclorum forum, who is from Scotland and rightly knows where Perth is, reiterated that I'm inadequate at British geography and called The Burning Taper "nonsense and propaganda." Good one. Gonna have to add that one to the sidebar!

Bro. Dunn came back with "I am not sure if the guy running the blog is even really a mason, or just an agitator poking masons in the eye." That comment was so good it's already made it to the sidebar. I mean, you can't make this stuff up!

Finally, we get to what was really on Bro. McElligott's mind when he started the thread about the Taper.

He wrote: "...why is it [the rape story] on what is supposed to be a Masonic web site, or maybe it's not a Masonic web site? I picked this up because three searches I did looking for some masonic items led me to The Burning Taper, so it is well served by the search engines."

Aha! The Taper shows up higher in the search engines when you do searches on Masonic subjects than do "official" or "mainstream" Masonic websites and blogs.

"Well served by the search engines...." Imagine that. A public blog discussing news and items of interest to not just the Masonic community but the world at large ranks high. That's terrible!

Or as a Past Master in my own lodge said to me, "You shouldn't be talking about Masonry. It's bad! It's bad! It's bad for Masonry. You shouldn't be talking about Masonry to the public. It's bad!"

On the forum, Prometheus pontificated about me that "It is clear to me that he was shoving stuff in a lodge where they had a specific way of practicing FM and they shoved back.

"It is also clearly apparent that his personality is such that he sees something is wrong with the behavior and practice of others but does not have the capacity to see what is wrong with his behavior.

"It comes down to what I've shared with you before: You MUST respect the rules of the room."

The rules of the room define Freemasonry? I gotta disagree. Rules of the room detract from Freemasonry. At some point, what goes on inside a lodge room may even cease to be Freemasonry if you vary from or violate Masonic code, etiquette and tradition far enough.

Bro. Theron sums up the thread with "Yes, I am tired of those that have nothing good to say about anything. They need to grow up."

And then (I'm not kidding) the thread deteriorates into several posts about the virtues of the animated "Hamster Dance."

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Recapturing the Spirit of Independence by U.S. Rep. Dr. Ron Paul

This week Americans will gather around the grill, attend parades and watch fireworks displays, all in the celebration of the signing of our Declaration of Independence. At the same time, we will have thousands of bureaucrats, troops and agents stationed in countries across the globe being paid by American tax dollars.

On the anniversary of our declaring our own independence from the British, it is certainly appropriate that we reflect on the nature and spirit of independent nationhood. While our founding fathers were individual men in a historically unique situation, they posited that the principles upon which they rested our national independence were timeless.

If we truly honor the men who brought about Independence Day, we would do well to spend at least as much time reflecting on the Declaration of Independence, and the principles upon which it is based, as we spend at the cookouts, parades, and fireworks displays. With the trend toward globalism that has been with us for the past century, we should be specifically thoughtful about how our celebration of independence can be made consistent with the policies that have been advocated by the American government – as well as many of the nation’s elite – or what we used to call the Eastern Establishment.

I believe there is no way to square our nation’s traditions and reverence for independence with the globalist policies these elites are currently pursuing. The American concept of independent nationhood inscribed in our Declaration cannot be maintained if we are going to pursue a policy that undermines the independence of other nations. National independence is an idea, and the erosion of the independence of other nations only serves to erode that idea.

At the same time, if we allow the erosion of that idea, by ignoring it in certain instances, we will be contributing to its erosion in all times and nations, even our own. In this way our nation’s independence is linked with the independence of all nations. The sooner we realize this truth, and enact a foreign policy that is consistent with it, the sooner we will be able to recapture the spirit of independence.

In addition, as our founding fathers understood, the idea of national independence is inseparable from that of constitutional republicanism. Only the safeguards and limitations that are enshrined in a constitutionally-limited republic can prohibit a nation from lurching toward empire. Recognizing these same protections is also the very best way to eliminate the need for civil wars and the violence of civil strife.

Moreover, this constitutional republicanism is essential to protecting the individual rights and self-determination that is at the heart of our Declaration. As we celebrate the 231ist anniversary of our nation’s birth, I hope every person who reads or hears this will take the time to go back and read the Declaration of Independence. Only by recapturing the spirit of independence can we ensure our government never resembles the one from which the American States declared their separation.

— U.S. Rep. Dr. Ron Paul of Texas

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
What Happened to The Signers

— The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Have you ever wondered what happened to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence? This is the price they paid:

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 in the revolutionary army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships resulting from the Revolutionary War.

These men signed, and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor!

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers and large plantation owners. All were men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty could be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

Perhaps one of the most inspiring examples of "undaunted resolution" was at the Battle of Yorktown. Thomas Nelson, Jr. was returning from Philadelphia to become Governor of Virginia and joined General Washington just outside of Yorktown. He then noted that British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headqurt, but that the patriot's were directing their artillery fire all over the town except for the vicinity of his own beautiful home. Nelson asked why they were not firing in that direction, and the soldiers replied, "Out of respect to you, Sir." Nelson quietly urged General Washington to open fire, and stepping forward to the nearest cannon, aimed at his own house and fired. The other guns joined in, and the Nelson home was destroyed. Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis's Long Island home was looted and gutted, his home and properties destroyed. His wife was thrown into a damp dark prison cell without a bed. Health ruined, Mrs. Lewis soon died from the effects of the confinement. The Lewis's son would later die in British captivity, also.

"Honest John" Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she lay dying, when British and Hessian troops invaded New Jersey just months after he signed the Declaration. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid to waste. All winter, and for more than a year, Hart lived in forests and caves, finally returning home to find his wife dead, his children vanished and his farm destroyed. Rebuilding proved too be too great a task. A few weeks later, by the spring of 1779, John Hart was dead from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

New Jersey's Richard Stockton, after rescuing his wife and children from advancing British troops, was betrayed by a loyalist, imprisoned, beaten and nearly starved. He returned an invalid to find his home gutted, and his library and papers burned. He, too, never recovered, dying in 1781 a broken man.

William Ellery of Rhode Island, who marveled that he had seen only "undaunted resolution" in the faces of his co-signers, also had his home burned.

Only days after Lewis Morris of New York signed the Declaration, British troops ravaged his 2,000-acre estate, butchered his cattle and drove his family off the land. Three of Morris' sons fought the British.

When the British seized the New York houses of the wealthy Philip Livingston, he sold off everything else, and gave the money to the Revolution. He died in 1778.

Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge and Thomas Heyward, Jr. went home to South Carolin tight. In the British invasion of the South, Heyward was wounded and all three were captured. As he rotted on a prison ship in St. Augustine, Heyward's plantation was raided, buildings burned, and his wife, who witnessed it all, died. Other Southern signers suffered the same general fate.

Among the first to sign had been John Hancock, who wrote in big, bold script so George III "could read my name without spectacles and could now double his reward for 500 pounds for my head." If the cause of the revolution commands it, roared Hancock, "Burn Boston and make John Hancock a beggar!"

Here were men who believed in a cause far beyond themselves.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the America revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

— Anonymous

Update: A reader pointed out that has checked the accuracy of the above anonymous article, and labeled the stories "some true, some false." The above anonymous article first came to's attention in 1999.

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