You are looking at  1-19 of 19 articles  for:

  • signer of the declaration of independence x
  • Results with images only x
Clear All

Article

Adams, John (19 October 1735–04 July 1826), second president of the United States, diplomat, and political theorist, was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, the son of John Adams (1691–1760), a shoemaker, selectman, and deacon, and Susanna Boylston. He claimed as a young man to have indulged in “a constant dissipation among amusements,” such as swimming, fishing, and especially shooting, and wished to be a farmer. However, his father insisted that he follow in the footsteps of his uncle Joseph Adams, attend Harvard College, and become a clergyman. John consented, applied himself to his studies, and developed a passion for learning but refused to become a minister. He felt little love for “frigid John Calvin” and the rigid moral standards expected of New England Congregationalist ministers....

Article

Adams, Samuel (27 September 1722–02 October 1803), revolutionary politician, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Massachusetts governor, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Adams and Mary Fifield. Of the twelve children born to the couple, he was one of only three who survived their parents. The elder Samuel Adams was a prosperous investor in real estate and other ventures, including the ill-fated land bank of 1740–1741, and the owner of a brewery. He also held several public offices—Boston selectman, justice of the peace, and member of the provincial assembly....

Article

Carroll of Carrollton, Charles (19 September 1737–14 November 1832), planter, businessman, investor, and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the last of the signers to die, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of Charles Carroll of Annapolis, a planter, and his common-law wife, Elizabeth Brooke. An only child, Carroll was sent at the age of ten to the Jesuit college of St. Omers, in French Flanders, where Maryland’s Catholic gentry sent their sons because the colony’s laws, which denied “papists” the right to vote, hold office, practice law, and worship publicly, also forbade them to maintain religious schools. Young Carroll studied abroad for sixteen years, ending with a thesis in philosophy at the college of Louis le Grand in Paris in 1757. After reading civil law in Bourges and Paris, he moved to London in September 1759 to pursue the common law at the Inns of Court. However, his antipathy for the discipline, which he regarded as “founded upon and still subsisting by villainy,” became so intense that he ultimately defied his father’s intention that he formally enter the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court. Finding the paternal insistence on his acquiring the social graces more to his liking, he became adept at dancing, drawing, and fencing and mastered Italian, bookkeeping, and surveying, practical skills the elder Carroll deemed essential for success as a landowner and man of business....

Article

Chase, Samuel (17 April 1741–19 June 1811), associate justice of the Supreme Court, was born in Somerset County, Maryland, the son of Thomas Chase, an Episcopal rector at St. Paul’s in Baltimore, and Martha (or Matilda) Walker. He was instructed primarily in the classics by his father. Chase began the study of law in the offices of Hammond & Hall in 1759 in Annapolis, Maryland, and was admitted to the bar in 1761. The next year he married Anne Baldwin; they had seven children (three of whom died in infancy) before her death in the late 1770s....

Article

Gaspare J. Saladino

Clymer, George (16 March 1739–23 January 1813), merchant, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Christopher Clymer, a sea captain and an Episcopalian, and Deborah Fitzwater, a disowned Quaker. Clymer’s parents died by 1746, and he was raised by his maternal aunt Hannah Coleman and her husband William, a wealthy Quaker merchant and Proprietary party leader. The Proprietary party was aligned with the Penn family (proprietors of Pennsylvania) against the Quaker party, which sought to turn Pennsylvania into a royal colony. By the late 1750s Clymer himself had become a merchant. In 1765 Clymer, an Episcopalian, married Elizabeth Meredith, the daughter of the Quaker merchant Reese Meredith; like Clymer’s mother, she was disowned for marrying a non-Quaker. Five of their eight children attained maturity. Following his uncle William Coleman’s death in 1769, Clymer inherited £6,000. Three years later Clymer entered into partnership with his father-in-law and his brother-in-law ...

Article

Franklin, Benjamin (06 January 1706–17 April 1790), natural philosopher and writer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the Congregational Old South Church, where the Reverend Samuel Willard baptized him the same day. The youngest son and fifteenth child of Josiah Franklin, a tallow chandler and soap maker who emigrated from England in 1683 to practice his Puritan faith, Benjamin had eleven living brothers and sisters. Five were Josiah’s children by his first wife, Anne Child, and six were by his second wife, Abiah Folger, Benjamin’s mother. Two sisters were born later....

Article

George Athan Billias

Gerry, Elbridge (17 July 1744–23 November 1814), statesman, was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Gerry, a merchant, and Elizabeth Greenleaf. His father was a British immigrant who arrived in 1730, settled in Marblehead, and became one of the most successful merchants in Essex County. The brightest of eleven children, Elbridge entered Harvard in 1758, graduated in 1762, and returned in 1765—the year of the Stamp Act—to submit his master’s thesis. Already a firebrand at twenty-one, he argued in it the question: “Can the new Prohibitary Duties which make it useless for the people to engage in Commerce, be evaded by them as faithful subjects?” His answer was “Yes.”...

Article

Gwinnett, Button (bap. 10 April 1735), merchant and political leader, was born in Gloucester, England, the son of the Reverend Samuel Gwinnett and Anne Emes. Gwinnett left England as a young man and for a number of years after arriving in America was a merchant in the colonial trade. In April 1757 he married Ann Bourne, with whom he had three children. His business activities took him from Newfoundland to Jamaica, and at times brought him into conflict with other merchants and with legal authorities. Never very successful, he moved to Savannah in 1765 and opened a store. When that venture failed, he bought (on credit) St. Catherines Island, off the coast of Georgia to the south of Savannah, and attempted to become a planter. Though his planting activities were also unsuccessful, he did make a name for himself in local politics....

Article

Hancock, John (12 January 1737–08 October 1793), merchant and politician, was born in Braintree (present-day Quincy), Massachusetts, the son of John Hancock, a Harvard graduate and minister, and Mary Hawke. In 1744 Hancock’s father died, forcing Hancock’s mother to move with her three children to Lexington to live with her father-in-law, John Hancock. In 1745 young John was sent to live with his uncle and aunt, Thomas and Lydia Hancock, in Boston. ...

Article

Hart, John (1714–11 May 1779), signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Hopewell Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, to Edward and Martha Hart, Presbyterians from Newtown, Long Island, who began farming there about 1699. Raised in comfortable circumstances, Hart purchased an estate of 193 acres in 1739, when he married Deborah Scudder, with whom he had thirteen children. By 1775 Hart was Hopewell’s largest landholder; he possessed at least 611 acres, owned three slaves, bred racing horses, and operated grain and fulling mills....

Article

Jefferson, Thomas (13 April 1743–04 July 1826), philosopher, author of the Declaration of Independence, and president of the United States, was born at Shadwell, in what became Albemarle County, Virginia, the son of Peter Jefferson, a pioneer farmer and surveyor, and Jane Randolph. He always valued the enterprising example of his father, who set him in the path of education; he became “a hard student,” indeed remained one throughout his life. Peter Jefferson died in 1757, leaving to his son a fair estate—5,000 acres and the slaves to work them. Less than three years later, Jefferson, already a proficient classical scholar, enrolled at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg....

Article

Lee, Richard Henry (20 January 1733–19 June 1794), revolutionary, member of the Continental Congress, and U.S. senator, was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Lee and Hannah Ludwell, planters. Lee studied for seven years at an academy in Wakefield, England. In 1757 he married Anne Aylett, with whom he had four children before her death in December 1768. The following summer he married Anne Gaskins Pinckard; they had five children....

Article

McKean, Thomas (19 March 1734–24 June 1817), statesman, jurist, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of William McKean, an innkeeper and farmer, and Letitia Finney. He studied at Francis Alison’s New London Academy (1742–1750), then left to study law (1750–1754) with his cousin David Finney of New Castle, Delaware. He joined the Delaware bar in 1754 and expanded his practice into Pennsylvania (1755) and New Jersey (1765). Following his admittance to practice before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1757, he gained admission to the Society of the Middle Temple in London as a specialiter, which permitted him to earn certification in 1758 as a barrister without attending....

Article

Rush, Benjamin (04 January 1746–19 April 1813), physician, professor of chemistry and of medicine, and social reformer, was born in Byberry Township, Pennsylvania, thirteen miles northeast of Philadelphia, the son of John Rush, a farmer and gunsmith, and Susanna Hall Harvey. John Rush died when Benjamin was five years old. His mother ran a grocery store to support the family. She sent Benjamin at age eight to live with an uncle by marriage, the Reverend Dr. ...

Article

Sherman, Roger (19 April 1721–23 July 1793), merchant and revolutionary leader, was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of William Sherman and Mehetabel Wellington, farmers. He moved with his family two years later to the part of Dorchester that became Stoughton and is now the town of Canton, Massachusetts. He grew up on his father’s farm and attended district schools, an apt student with a particular interest in arithmetic. William Sherman was somewhat downwardly mobile and had reduced his farm from 270 acres to 73 acres by the time of his death in 1741....

Article

Smith, James (17 September 1719–11 July 1806), a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in northern Ireland, the second son of John Smith, a farmer. His mother's name is unknown. Although his family enjoyed prosperity in their native land, favorable reports by Smith's brothers, who had emigrated and settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania, induced Smith's father to join them in 1729. After settling his family in what is now York County, Smith's father sent him to Philadelphia, where he studied Greek, Latin, and surveying under the Reverend ...

Article

Taylor, George (01 January 1716?–23 February 1781), ironmaster and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born into circumstances that remain obscure. Virtually nothing is known with certainty about his early life, but he may have been born in northern Ireland (although at least one source suggests a connection with the Taylor family of Derbyshire, England). The names and occupations of his parents are likewise unknown, although sources suggest that his father was either a clergyman or a well-established lawyer. In any event, he must have had some early education prior to his arrival in North America in 1736, when he settled in East Nantmeal Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and took a job under Samuel Savage, Jr., at the Warwick Furnace. He evidently came to America through the use of his own resources; earlier reports that had him arriving in the colonies as a redemptioner appear to be without foundation. By 1739 Taylor held the position of bookkeeper at the Furnace and later became manager of another nearby iron mill, Coventry Forge....

Article

Wilson, James (14 September 1742–21 August 1798), lawyer and jurist, was born in Carskerdo, near St. Andrews, Scotland, the eldest son of William Wilson and Aleson Lansdale, farmers. His parents, members of the Associate Presbytery, intended him for the ministry. In 1757, having won a competitive scholarship, Wilson entered the University of St. Andrews, an important center of the Scottish Renaissance. He enrolled at the St. Mary’s College divinity school four years later but, because of financial problems caused by his father’s death, withdrew and became a tutor in a gentleman’s family. In 1765 Wilson began learning merchant accounting, then quickly changed plans. Financed by family loans and anxious to advance in the secular world, he sailed for America. In 1765–1766 he tutored in the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania) and also received an honorary M.A. He then applied to study law with ...

Article

Witherspoon, John (05 February 1723–15 November 1794), Presbyterian minister, college president, and American patriot, was born in the village of Gifford in the parish of Yester, Scotland, eighteen miles east of Edinburgh Castle, the son of James Witherspoon, a minister of the Church of Scotland, and Anne (or Anna) Walker. At home Witherspoon was instructed in the New Testament and the hymns of Isaac Watts and early developed a facility for rapid, accurate memorization. He entered the University of Edinburgh when only thirteen and received a master of arts in February 1739. He then studied theology, was licensed to preach on 6 September 1743, and in January 1745 was called as minister of the Church of Scotland parish in Beith, Ayrshire. The next year he helped raise troops to fight against Charles Stuart, the Young Pretender, but rebel forces captured him when he went to observe the battle of Falkirk. He underwent a brief but harsh imprisonment in Castle Doune near Stirling that permanently damaged his nervous system. In 1748 he married Elizabeth Montgomery; they had ten children, five of whom died during childhood....