Signers of the
Declaration of Independence

Have you ever wondered who were, and what happened to the men who signed the
Declaration of Independence?

1- Button Gwinnett
2- Lyman Hall
3- George Walton
4- William Hooper
5- Joseph Hewes
6- John Penn
7- Edward Rutledge
8- Thomas Heyward Jr.
9- Thomas Lunch Jr.
10- Arthur Middleton
11- John Hancock
12- Samuel Chase
13- William Paca
14- Thomas Stone
15- Charles Carroll
16- George Wythe
17- Richard Stockton
18- John Witherspoon
19- Francis Hopkinson
20- John Hart
21- Abraham Clark
22- Josiah Bartlett
23- William Whipple
24- Samuel Adams
25- John Adams
26- Robert Treat Paine
27- Elbridge Gerry
28- Stephen Hopkins
29- William Ellery
30- Roger Sherman
31- Samuel Huntington
32- William Williams
33- Oliver Wolcott
34- Richard Henry Lee
35- Thomas Jefferson
36- Benjamin Harrison
37- Thomas Nelson Jr.
38- Francis Lightfoot Lee
39- Carter Braxton
40- Robert Morris
41- Benjamin Rush
42- Benjamin Franklin
43- John Morton
44- George Clymer
45- James Smith
46- George Taylor
47- James Wilson
48- George Ross
49- Caesar Rodney
50- George Read
51- Thomas McKean
52- William Floyd
53- Philip Livingston
54- Francis Lewis
55- Lewis Morris
56- Matthew Thornton

      Fifty-six men from each of the original 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Nine of the signers were immigrants, two were brothers and two were cousins. One was an orphan. The first, largest, and most famous signature is that of John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress. The youngest signer was Edward Rutledge (age 26). Benjamin Franklin (age 70) was the oldest. Two future presidents signed: John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President).

      Eighteen of the signers were merchants or businessmen, 14 were farmers, and four were doctors. Twenty-two were lawyers - although William Hooper of North Carolina was "disbarred" when he spoke out against the king - and nine were judges. Stephen Hopkins had been governor of Rhode Island. Forty-two signers had served in their colonial legislatures.

      John Witherspoon of New Jersey was the only active clergyman to attend. (Indeed, he wore his pontificals to the sessions.) Almost all were Protestants. Charles Carroll of Maryland was the lone Roman Catholic.

      Seven of the signers were educated at Harvard, four at Yale, four at William & Mary, and three at Princeton. Witherspoon was the president of Princeton, and George Wythe was a professor at William & Mary. His students included Declaration scribe Thomas Jefferson.

      Seventeen signers fought in the American Revolution. Thomas Nelson was a colonel in the Second Virginia Regiment and then commanded Virginia military forces at the Battle of Yorktown. William Whipple served with the New Hampshire militia and was a commanding officer in the decisive Saratoga campaign. Oliver Wolcott led the Connecticut regiments sent for the defense of New York and commanded a brigade of militia that took part in the defeat of General Burgoyne. Caesar Rodney was a major general in the Delaware militia; John Hancock held the same rank in the Massachusetts militia.

      The British captured five signers during the war. Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton were captured at the Battle of Charleston in 1780. George Walton was wounded and captured at the Battle of Savannah. Richard Stockton of New Jersey never recovered from his incarceration at the hands of British Loyalists. He died in 1781.

      Thomas McKean of Delaware wrote John Adams that he was "hunted like a fox by the enemy - compelled to remove my family five times in a few months." Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured by the British during the war.

      Eleven signers had their homes and property destroyed. Francis Lewis's New York home was razed and his wife taken prisoner. John Hart's farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey, and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Nelson, both of Virginia, lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort but were never repaid.

      Fifteen of the signers participated in their states' constitutional conventions, and six - Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Franklin, George Clymer, James Wilson, and George Reed - signed the U.S. Constitution.

      After the Revolution, 13 signers went on to become governors. Eighteen served in their state legislatures. Sixteen became state and federal judges. Seven became members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Six became U.S. senators. James Wilson and Samuel Chase became Supreme Court justices. Jefferson, Adams, and Elbridge Gerry each became vice president. Adams and Jefferson later became president.

      Five signers played major roles in the establishment of colleges and universities: Franklin and the University of Pennsylvania; Jefferson and the University of Virginia; Benjamin Rush and Dickinson College; Lewis Morris and New York University; and George Walton and the University of Georgia.

      Adams, Jefferson, and Carroll were the longest surviving signers. Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Carroll was the last signer to die in 1832 at the age of 95.

The above narrative does not cover all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence but if you wish to read more please go to: Signers of the Declaration of Independence.