“the pursuit of happiness”

“the pursuit of happiness”: 1776

“happy birthday” (song): 1926

“smiley face”: 1963

‘happy meal”: 1977

Catching up on some reading yesterday and reading the Harvard Business Review.  I was immediately attracted to the article “The History of Happiness”.  Peter Stearns begins the article with “a person who smiles a lot is either a fool or an American” (a modern Russian adage).  His first example of happiness was the words of the Declaration of Independence “the pursuit of happiness’.  He followed these words with some other “happy” events in American history.  My thoughts wandered to the definition of pursuit and happiness.  Below are both definitions.  I remembered the outcome of those who signed our document of freedom.  Their outcome is below also.  I am sure as they signed this document, they understood we would struggle to find contentment and joy in our country forever.  For those signers their signature brought a terrible short-term outcome for them and their families.  These are the first defenders of freedom.  After you read this, listen to Lee Greenwoods famous song as you think about these courageous men.

pursuit: an effort to secure or attain; quest: “the pursuit of happiness”

happiness: good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy. 

“… we mutually Pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.”

Declaration of Independence

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor?

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.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would 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 looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Tomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

God Bless The U.S.A.