Have you ever heard of Francis Lewis? Does the name Abraham Clark ring a bell? How about John Hart?
Some of you may have guessed that these are the names of three of the men who, along with 53 others, signed that most historic of all documents, the Declaration of Independence. But do you know their stories? In fact, do you know anything about any of those men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for the cause of freedom? We all know about Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, but the majority of these forefathers of ours remain in obscurity for most of us, I imagine.
This shouldn’t be.
I believe with all my heart that those Founding Fathers with whom we are all familiar were destined by God Himself to be our Founding Fathers. I also believe that each of the 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence were brought forth for that ultimate purpose. America was not a coincidence, not just the result of a sequence of events.
A man who became known as “one of New York City’s leading radicals” in the Revolutionary cause began his life as a preacher’s son in Wales. How did the young Welshman Francis Lewis, born across the ocean and educated in Scotland & London, become a founding member of the Sons of Liberty and a signatory of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America?
“… for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me… calling… the man that executes my counsel from a far country… “ (Isaiah 46: 9, 11)
A man who involves himself in the forging of a nation, whose heart and passion compel him to break away from safety and ‘security’ to answer the call of liberty, must be a man of a certain character. Certain circumstances in a person’s life can build such a character. It is significant to me that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, men extraordinaire, lost their fathers at an early age. They grew up without the supporting structure of a fully-orbed family, and I would surmise developed leadership qualities that may not have otherwise become a part of their personalities. The willingness to risk and to assume responsibility would be indispensable elements in a founding father. The loss of one’s earthly father early in life could surely contribute to the development of those characteristics.
Francis Lewis was an orphan by the age of 5.
Records do not appear to indicate just how he lost both parents so young, but he did, and thus entered the ranks of those stellar Founding Fathers who possibly led the way because they had lost their own fathers early in life.
Lewis was brought up by an unmarried aunt, who “saw to it that he studied in Scotland… and later attended the prestigious Westminster School in London.” Lewis’ interests led him into the field of mercantile pursuits, and …