Monday 11 December 2017
Search - Content
Search SEO Glossary
PLG_SEARCH_JOOMBLOG
Contact Us

Signers of the Declaration of Indpendence

Declaration draftThroughout 1775 and early 1776, most Americans—including delegates of the Continental Congress—saw themselves as simply being in active and well-justified rebellion against their rightful king. They hoped that the king would install a new government and institute new policies, but still remain their sovereign. Three-quarters of the colonists were descended from English families; their Bible, their prayer books, and their schoolbooks were written in English; and the history they learned and the heroes, saints, and martyrs they revered were English.

So it was an especially inspiring yet solemn occasion when, upon the document's very last line, these patriots pledged by their signatures the following:

'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.'

Facts About the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

All 56 of those who signed the Declaration eventually suffered to some extent from physical hardships, loss of loved ones, financial failure, and damage to (and, in some instances, complete destruction of) their families.

All but eight of the signers were native-born.

Of the foreign-born, two were from England, one from Wales, two from Scotland, and three from Ireland.

Two were bachelors.

About one-third of the signers were wiped out financially.

Robert Morris, an extremely wealthy patriot known as 'Financier of the Revolution,' lost his fortune in land speculation after the Revolutionary War. With debts of three million dollars, he was sent to debtors' prison in 1798. Although he was penniless, the prison charged him rent for what Morris called his 'hotel with the grated door.' His cell included a writing desk, bedstead, settee, chairs, and mirrors, and his visitors were as varied and distinguished as Alexander Hamilton and George Washington. Five years after completing his 3½-year sentence, Morris died in poverty and obscurity.

Thomas McKean of Pennsylvania once wrote the following to John Adams:

'I have had my full share of the anxieties, cares, and troubles of the present war. For some time, I was obliged to act as president of the Delaware state and as chief justice of this. General Howe had just landed at the head of the Elk river when I undertook to discharge these two important trusts. The consequence was to be hunted like a fox by the enemy, and envied by those who ought to have been my friends.

'I was compelled to remove my family five times in a few months and at last, find them in a little log house on the banks of the Susquehanna, more than a hundred miles from this place; but safety was not to be found there, for they were soon obliged to remove again, on account of the incursions of the Indians.

The average age was slightly less than 44.5 years old. The youngest was 26 (Thomas Lynch, Jr and Edward Rutledge - both from South Carolina) and the oldest was 70 (Benjamin Frankliin from Pennsylvania).

The signers lived to an average age of 66 years.

Three lived into their nineties!

Download a PDF Fact Sheet on the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Sources:

The information in these biographical sketches was extracted from The Pictorial Field-Book of The Revolution by Lossing, Benson J.  Copyright ©1850. Published by Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York.

The pictoral images were taken from a lithograph titled Portraits and Autographs of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence by Ole Erekson, c. 1876 in the collection of the Library of Congress.

 

There are no articles in this category. If subcategories display on this page, they may contain articles.

  • Connecticut Signers

    Connecticut was founded in 1635. The first settlers of Connecticut were originally Dutchmen who lived near modern-day Hartford. Puritans from the Massachusetts Bay were the first English settlers in the colony, and they founded several colonies within it, making Connecticut one of the most important centers of business and government.
     
    It was home to one of the bloodiest wars in America which is known as the Pequot War. Hundreds of people died in this war, and hundreds more were taken captive and sold into slavery. Seven hundred Pequot residents died in the Mystic [River] Massacre; seven survived the massacre and were made slaves; while seven others escaped both of these unfortunate incidents.

    Connecticut sent four representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • Delaware Signers

    Delaware was founded in 1638, and Dutchmen were its first settlers. It is home to the Battle of Delaware Bay during the American Revolutionary War. It was in this war when the 13-star colonial flag made its first appearance in a battle, and this kind of flag had then been used from 1777 to 1795.

    Delaware is America’s first state.

    Delaware sent three representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • Georgia Signers

    Georgia was founded in 1733, and was named after King George II

    Georgia did not participate in the First Continental Congress and did not initally send delegates to the Second Continental Congress. However, on May 13, 1175 Lyman Hall was admitted as a delegate from the Parish of St. John's in the Colony of Georgia, but not as a delegate of the colony itself. Belatedly, on July 8, 1775, Georgia decided to send delegates to the Congress, where they arrived on July 20, 1775. Ultimately, Georgia had three delegates who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • Maryland Signers

    Maryland was named after Queen Henrietta Maria and was founded in 1632. It became the first English colony to have dominant Catholic members, and it is home to one of the first religious laws in America.

    Maryland sent four representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • Massachusetts Signers

    Massachusetts was founded in 1630. Settlers from Shawmuth and Trimoutaine changed its name to Boston, which is still named after a city in England. In 1935, the first public school in America was founded and was named Boston Latin School. It is still standing and is now the oldest school in the whole of America. The first public park was built in Boston, as did the first American newspaper. Massachusetts was home to two major events leading to the American Revolution, namely the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

    Massachusetts sent five representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • New Hampshire Signers

    New Hampshire was founded in 1622, and it was named after Hampshire in England. When the American Revolution first broke out, New Hampshire became a divided state.  The main trades of New Hampshire then were agriculture and manufacturing. People of New Hampshire were fishermen, shoemakers, cobblers and farmers. Even the first settlements in New Hampshire were those of fishermen, and they lived near modern-day Portsmouth.

    New Hampshire sent three representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • New Jersey Signers

    New Jersey was founded in 1664 by the British crown, though Dutch settlements were already there as early as in 1613. It was then called New Netherland, and the land area was known to include some parts of New York. New Jersey was given to Lord Berkeley of Stratton and Sir George Carteret by King Charles.

    New Jersey sent five representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • New York Signers

    New York was founded in 1613. When the British claimed its territories in America, New York was actually a part of the Province of New York, along with Delaware, New Jersey and Vermont. The king reassigned these places after some time to become individual colonies, and New York was named after James, Duke of York.

    New York sent four representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • North Carolina Signers

    North Carolina was founded in 1653 but it was the first places to be inhabited in the New World in 1587. It is home to the first English child born into the New World, but after three years, the first colonists mysteriously disappeared with no known trace up to this day.

    North Carolina sent three representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • Pennsylvania Signers

    Pennsylvania was founded in 1681, but a Swedish man named Peter Minuit had rightly claimed it in 1638. King Charles II gave William Penn the land grant for what is now known as Pennsylvania. It was named as such after William Penn’s father, Admiral Penn.

    Pennsylvania sent nine representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • Rhode Island Signers

    Rhode Island and Providence were the smallest colony of England in America, and was founded in 1636. It was the first colony of England that declared independence and separation from the English rule.

    Rhode Island sent two representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • South Carolina Signers

    South Carolina was founded by the Lord Proprietors in 1663. Six years later, the Fundamental Constitution of Carolina was written by John Locke.

    South Carolina sent four representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • Virginia Signers

    Virginia was home to one of the first ever foreign settlers of America. Founded in 1607, it was originally named Jamestown, after King James I. It was home to the first representative government in all of America, when the House of Burgesses met for the first time in 1619.

    Virginia sent seven representatives to the Second Continental Congress and who were amongst the fifty-six who signed the Declaration of Independence.