We live in an era where self centered people flaunt bullshit accomplishments. This timeframe lacks individuality and true conviction. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others but studies show that people are depressed because they are not living up to some imaginary bar that a fake celebrity lifted. I take no part in that. The things people brag about having I don’t want. The things people brag about doing I have no interest in.
I will admit that I do overthink, the overthinker is a tortured soul, and I wonder If I’m doing enough with my life. I started reading about an old school dude from my neighborhood and felt very displeased with my accomplishments.
You may have cruised a 10.8 mile boulevard or attended a high school named after him, but do you know who Francis Lewis is? I didn’t know much and I’d wager that the only thing you knew if any was that his signature was on the Declaration of Independence. The truth is Francis Lewis is pretty interesting with what little is known about the founding father.
Francis Lewis was born on March 21st, 1713, in Llandaff, Wales. He was an only child to Reverend Francis Lewis and his wife, Amy, who apparently died and orphaned the boy at five years old. Amy’s family saw to the boy sending him to Scotland. He spoke Welsh, Gaelic and English, and I can barely speak the latter. He was educated in Scotland and later attended Westminster in London, no big deal, I studied at York Community College in South suicide Jamaica, Queens. I mean academically they’re like the same institution.
Lewis apprenticed at a mercantile business in London, with the knowledge he amassed he then emigrated to America, and set up shop out of New York and Philly, using his navigational expertise to make frequent trips to European and African ports and the whole time he was kicking it to his business partner Edward Annesley’s younger sister Elizabeth. They wed on June 15th, 1745. They would have seven children but only four survived. I have a measly three.
You think you’re bad ass? You ever survive a Shipwreck? Well, Lewis survived two off the coast of Ireland. Beat that.
While serving as a British mercantile supplying uniforms and goods during the French and Indian war he got rolled on. Lewis was captured and taken prisoner by the fucking French for seven years. Quelle dommage. I’m sure he probably spoke French fluently after his bid. He kept his mouth shut and did his time and Elizabeth waited for him until his release in a prisoner exchange in 1763.
The English recognized the realness and compensated Lewis for his imprisonment with 5,000 acres of land in New York. He said, “Cool, but don’t fuck with my money.” He quickly reestablished himself as a businessman and at one point was one of the richest men in the colony but the Brits didn’t listen to his warning. Lewis was not happy with them digging in his pockets. Taxation without representation, my dude.
Lewis was considered radical, and embraced revolution without it even trending on Twitter. He was a founding member of a crew called the Sons of Liberty. 1775 was a big year for the Lewis family. They moved to Whitestone, and he was elected as a delegate from New York to the first and second Continental Congress. A prominent part of the movement with not a camera opp in sight, this founding father would go on to tag the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence.
Elizabeth Lewis was used to holding down the fort while Francis was away in Philadelphia being awesome. The American Revolutionary War was on. Battles were being fought all over New York and Queens farmers were conflicted. The Commander In Chief GW took a major loss in the Battle of Brooklyn and retreated. British Captain Birch, not happy with the treasonous Lewis ordered a straight bitch move. Birch sent a troop to Whitestone to destroy the crib. And I thought getting my windows broken was wack.
Elizabeth was coolheaded even as a warship launched cannons at the house. I’ve thrown some shit at people’s houses but cannon balls? That’s next level beef. Supposedly when a British soldier ripped the buckle off of Elizabeth’s shoes she scoffed, “All that glitters is not gold.” It was pinchbeck, which I had to look up, is an alloy of copper and zinc that resembles gold.
The British destroyed the Lewis home and unfortunately Elizabeth wasn’t able to hide behind her cellphone, and was kidnapped for her husband’s involvement in the revolution. Elizabeth was thrown into prison, no bed or change of clothes, and given very little to eat. Mrs. Lewis, known for a steady hand and nerve but the strongest of wills can be broken, and the whole ordeal did just that.
When GW heard the news he said, “You want to play like that, son.” Washington ordered the arrest of Mrs. Barren, an attorney general’s wife back in Philly. GW made it clear that Barren would be treated exactly the same way they treated Mrs. Lewis and the Brits were like, “Oh shit.” They immediately set up an exchange but for Elizabeth it was too late.
Francis reunited with Elizabeth in Philly. He referred to his wife as “Heaven’s best gift.” His principles cost him the love of his life. She died a few years later in 1779, succumbing the wounds inflicted during her captivity with Francis at her side.
Lewis retired from public service two years later. His wealth which was also destroyed with his house, was never regained and he spent the remainder of his years in relative poverty. Lewis could relate to the sacrifice made by people today when they repost something political. Thank you for your service. Lewis found happiness in literature and being in the company of his children and grandchildren, and good friends.
On his deathbed Lewis was asked how he felt about the British, he spat on the floor and said, “I hate those limey motherfuckers.” He died at the age of 89 on December 31st, 1802. He is buried in the cemetery at Trinity Church, New York City’s oldest with a headstone that is unmarked except for his preferred pronouns.
Charles Goodrich, some other forgotten old guy, who was probably tougher than all of us called Lewis an excellent man and a distinguished patriot. Just remember when you think that you’re special, think all of the things Francis Lewis did without having to buy followers or promote posts, and after all he gave and lost no one really thinks about him at all. Stay humble.
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