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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » Founding Fathers' Fortunes - Need a Historian (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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ClintonMagus
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I heard on the radio the other day that almost all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were nearly broke when they died. I have searched the internet and have found conflicting stories.

Is there a U.S. historian on here who knows the real story?

(To be fair, though, this person also thought that George Washington was one of the signers...)
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
Slide
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Well, Jefferson was a very well known spend thrift and he was always in debt due to his love of luxury, clothes, and nice houses. I believe he died massively in dept. John Adams never had a lot of money to begin and certainly wasn't rich by any standards when he died, whether he was broke or not, I don't know. Benjamin Franklin always seemed to have his dough. I'd be very surprised if he died broke because he was one of our first entrepreneurs and his image was well known.
mastermindreader
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Paine died a pauper.
MagicSanta
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Ben Franklin was successful but didn't make money off a number of his endevours because that was his way and he retired to do what he pleased in his 40s. I wouldn't call him rich he was alright though. Many of the signers were very wealthy and had their properties destryed or taken from them and often locked up. Most died broke having. Never recovering from the punishments they went through.
critter
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This is difficult to calculate. As you know, there were no dead Presidents at the time of the Nation's founding. Because of this, there was no way to manufacture a US currency. Instead, they used horehound candies and rock candy. There wasn't reliable record keeping yet, as these candies were simply stored in candy jars which have since been dispursed amongst the Nation's population of Grandmothers. Surprisingly, much of this candy still exists in very close to its original state.
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Payne
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There was an extreme shortage of hard currency in the eighteenth century in the Americas. Most of one's wealth was tied up in property and posessions. Much was bought on credit. It's a common theme in a lot of eighteenth and nineteenth century literature of shop owners trying to get their customers to pay the outstanding sums owed to them.

so I could easily see how mostr of the founding fathers would have died broke and in debt.
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ClintonMagus
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Some of the sources I have read address things such as having posessions taken or destroyed by the British army, but I guess that the fact there was no true, "valuable" monetary standard contributed greatly to this. Regardless of how wealthy you might be, your Continentals were not worth... well... a Continental.
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Woland
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Rush Limbaugh's father wrote a very famous essay about the sufferings of the signers. I am not sure if it is 100% correct, however.

Paine was not a signer.
ClintonMagus
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Seems like I once read that Thomas Paine wrote a version of the Declaration of Independence, or one of the other founding documents.
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ed rhodes
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Might Paine have had something to do with the Articles of Confederation?
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balducci
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Franklin left a couple of bequests (to Boston and Philly, I think) that grew to several million dollars ...took a while, though.
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MagicSanta
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Thomas Paine is a founding father because he wrote Common Sense which motivatedd the reevolution.
Woland
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"Common Sense" did not motivate the Revolutionary War, it expressed the sentiments of the people who were in favor of independence, and it did that very well.

There were actually several cohorts of "Founders," though the term is usually used, unless I am mistaken, to refer to the men who sat in Philadelphia and debated the issues that resulted in the Constitution. The men who wrote and signed the Declaration were quite a different group, although Robert Morris, Benj Franklin, George Clymer, James Wilson, George Read, and Roger Sherman were in both groups.

An article debunking the article that claims that the signers all suffered during the Revolutionary War can be found here, if you are interested.
Mr. Mystoffelees
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Well, now my curiosity is up - where is that historian?

Jim
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
mastermindreader
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As the highly influential author of "Common Sense" and "The American Crisis" at the start of the American Revolution, Paine became one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. See: Bernstein, Richard B. (2009). The Founding Fathers Reconsidered. Oxford University Press US. p. 36. ISBN 0-19-533832-4.

From "The American Crisis," the stirring passage that Washington read to his soldiers to inspire them:

Quote:
These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.


See also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Paine
TomBoleware
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The signers are pictured on the back of the two dollar bill.

Tom

PS. On second thought, the painting on the bill only shows 42 of the 56 signers of the Declaration.
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mastermindreader
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Count their legs and divide by two.

Seriously, though, the signing scene on the back of the bill is not a perfect duplicate of the John Trumbull painting. Five figures were knocked off the edges to make it fit the bill. So that only leave nine signers still unaccounted for.

The fact is, though, that the Declaration was not signed by all of the signers at the same date and time.

Quote:
On July 4, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, and as a result the date is celebrated as Independence Day. Nearly a month would go by, however, before the actual signing of the document took place. First, New York’s delegates didn’t officially give their support until July 9 because their home assembly hadn’t yet authorized them to vote in favor of independence. Next, it took two weeks for the Declaration to be “engrossed”—written on parchment in a clear hand. Most of the delegates signed on August 2, but several—Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean and Matthew Thornton—signed on a later date. (Two others, John Dickinson and Robert R. Livingston, never signed at all.)


http://www.history.com/news/9-things-you......pendence
MagicSanta
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Woland if it makes you feel better I wrote a longer response abuot Paine and hit the wrong button so I shortened it. Obviously a number of factors came into play it was Paine who put words together which drew many including John Adams to go for it.
TomBoleware
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Bob, speaking of the two dollar bill:

A hobby of mine is selling/buying currency on ebay. I have a good stack of uncirculated 1976 through 2003 two dollar bills,
the ones with the signers on the back. So I have handled a good many of these bills but it wasn't until recently that someone
told me something strange about the group of people on the back. One of them is a black man. Now I'm certainly not one to
ask about history, but that just didn't sound right to me.

So I got one of the bills out and sure enough there he was, sitting right in the middle of the group is a black man.
All these years and I had never noticed it. I just thought Wow.


Well no not really, there is a shadow that causes one man's face to appear black. But he's not, it's just a shadow,
and I think its something to do with the ink too. You need the bill in hand to really see it and the more you look
the more deceiving it is. Hard to see it with the online picture.

But anyway, it's a good way to show solid prove that the first President was indeed a black man. Smile

Tom
"Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week"--Lori Greiner

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mastermindreader
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Yes, Tom, I heard that it is because of really tight lines on the engraving. He does look black, though.

I also heard, but I can't check because I don't have a two dollar bill, that the number of feet don't add up right.

Best-

Bob
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