Posted by: MTR | November 29, 2010

The Signers and their faith

Samuel Huntington (1731-1796) Congregationalist—Samuel Huntington was a self-made man who distinguished himself in government on the state and national levels. He was the President of Congress from 1779-1781 and presided over the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in 1781.  He returned to Connecticut and was the Chief Justice of the Superior Court in 1784, Lieutenant Governor in 1785 and Governor from 1786-1796.  He was one of the first seven presidential electors from Connecticut.

It becomes a people publicly to acknowledge the over-ruling hand of Divine Providence and their dependence upon the Supreme Being as their Creator and Merciful Preserver . . . and with becoming humility and sincere repentance to supplicate the pardon that we may obtain forgiveness through the merits and mediation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Samuel
Huntington, A Proclamation for a Day of Fasting, Prayer and Humiliation, March 9, 1791, from a proclamation in our possession, Evans #23284

Roger Sherman (1723-1793)Congregationalist—Roger Sherman was a member of the Committee of Five that was chosen to write the Declaration of Independence.  He and Robert Morris were the only individuals to sign the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.   He was the Judge of the Superior Court of Connecticut from 1766-1789, a member of the Continental Congress from 1774-81; 1783-84 and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.  Sherman proposed the famed “Connecticut Compromise” at the convention and represented Connecticut in the United States Senate from 1791-93.

 believe that there is one only liv¬ing and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. That the Scriptures of the Old and New Tes¬taments are a revelation from God, and a complete rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him. . . . That He made man at first perfectly holy; that the first man sinned, and as he was the public head of his posterity, they all became sinners in consequence of his first transgres¬sion, are wholly indisposed to that which is good and inclined to evil, and on account of sin are liable to all the miseries of this life, to death, and to the pains of hell forever. I believe that God . . . did send His own Son to become man, die in the room and stead of sinners, and thus to lay a foundation for the offer of pardon and salvation to all mankind, so as all may be saved who are willing to accept the Gospel offer. . . . I believe a visible church to be a congregation of those who make a credible profession of their faith in Christ, and obedi¬ence to Him, joined by the bond of the covenant. . . . I believe that the sacraments of the New Testament are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. . . . I believe that the souls of believers are at their death made perfectly holy, and immediately taken to glory: that at the end of this world there will be a resurrec¬tion of the dead, and a final judgment of all mankind, when the righteous shall be publicly acquitted by Christ the Judge and admitted to everlasting life and glory, and the wicked be sentenced to everlasting punishment
Lewis Henry Boutell, The Life of Roger Sherman (Chicago: A. C. McClurg and Company, 1896), pp. 271-273.

William Williams (1731-1811)Congregationalist—William Williams was a graduate of Harvard, studied theology with his father and eventually became a successful merchant.  He fought in the French-Indian War and returned to Lebanon, Connecticut where he served for forty-four years as the town clerk.  He was elected to the Continental Congress from 1776-1777, and after signing the Declaration of Independence, Williams was a member of the committee that was instrumental in framing the Articles of Confederation.  He was a delegate to vote on the ratification of the Federal Constitution and also served as a Judge of the Windham County Courthouse.

Oliver Wolcott (1726-1797)Congregationalist—Oliver Wolcott was as much a soldier as he was a politician and served as a brigadier general in the New York campaigns from 1776-1777.  As a major general, he was involved in defending the Connecticut coast from attacks by the Royal Governor of New York.  He was Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1775 and from 1784-89, a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1775-76 and 1778-84, Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut from 1786-96 and Governor from 1796-97.

Through various scenes of life, God has sustained me. May He ever be my unfailing friend; may His love cherish my soul; may my heart with gratitude acknowledge His goodness; and may my desires be to Him and to the remembrance of His name….May we then turn our eyes to the bright objects above, and may God give us strength to travel the upward road. May the Divine Redeemer conduct us to that seat of bliss which He himself has prepared for His friends; at the approach of which every sorrow shall vanish from the human heart and endless scenes of glory open upon the enraptured eye. There our love to God and each other will grow stronger, and our pleasures never be dampened by the fear of future separation. How indifferent will it then be to us whether we obtained felicity by travailing the thorny or the agreeable paths of life – whether we arrived at our rest by passing through the envied and unfragrant road of greatness or sustained hardship and unmerited reproach in our journey. God’s Providence and support through the perilous perplexing labyrinths of human life will then forever excite our astonishment and love. May a happiness be granted to those I most tenderly love, which shall continue and increase through an endless existence. Your cares and burdens must be many and great, but put your trust in that God Who has hitherto supported you and me; He will not fail to take care of those who put their trust in Him….It is most evident that this land is under the protection of the Almighty, and that we shall be saved not by our wisdom nor by our might, but by the Lord of Host Who is wonderful in counsel and Almighty in all His operations
Letters of Delegates to Congress: January 1, 1776-May 15, 1776, Paul H. Smith, editor (Washington DC: Library of Congress, 1978), Vol. 3, pp. 502-503, Oliver Wolcott to Laura Wolcott on April 10, 1776

Thomas McKean (1734-1817)Presbytarian—Thomas McKean was the last member of the Second Continental Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence.  He was a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1774-81 and served as a delegate to the Congress of the Confederation from 1781-1783.  After 1783, McKean became involved in the politics of Pennsylvania becoming  Chief Justice of Pennsylvania and the Governor of Pennsylvania from 1799-1812.  He retired from politics in 1812 and died at the age of 83 in 1817.

In the case Respublica v. John Roberts, John Roberts was sentenced to death after a jury found him guilty of treason. Chief Justice McKean then told him:

You will probably have but a short time to live. Before you launch into eternity, it be¬hooves you to improve the time that may be allowed you in this world: it behooves you most seriously to reflect upon your past conduct; to repent of your evil deeds; to be incessant in prayers to the great and merciful God to forgive your manifold transgressions and sins; to teach you to rely upon the merit and passion of a dear Redeemer, and thereby to avoid those regions of sorrow – those doleful shades where peace and rest can never dwell, where even hope cannot enter. It behooves you to seek the [fellowship], advice, and prayers of pious and good men; to be [persistent] at the Throne of Grace, and to learn the way that leadeth to happiness. May you, reflecting upon these things, and pursuing the will of the great Father of light and life, be received into [the] company and society of angels and archangels and the spirits of just men made perfect; and may you be qualified to enter into the joys of Heaven – joys unspeakable and full of glory!

William B. Reed, Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1847), Vol. II, pp. 36-37.

George Read (1733-1798)Episcopalian—George Read was the only signer of the Declaration of Independence who voted against the proposal for independence introduced by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.  He was elected to the Continental Congress from 1774-1776, was a member of the Delaware Constitutional Convention in 1776, acting Governor of Delaware in 1777, a Judge on the Court of Appeals in 1780, State Senator from 1791-92, a United States Senator from 1789-1793 and Chief Justice of the State of Delaware from 1793-98.

George Read became the president of the Delaware constitutional convention and helped direct the Delaware Constitution of 1776. The following is one of the requirements for public officials.

“Everyone appointed to public office must say: ‘I do profess faith in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God & blessed forevermore. And I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration.’”

Caesar Rodney (1728- 1784)Episcopalian—Caesar Rodney took a strong stand in favor of independence and because of that, was not reelected to Congress because of the conservatives in the state of Delaware.  They also blocked his election to the state legislature and his appointment to the state’s constitutional convention.  He was interested in military affairs and was involved in action in Delaware and New Jersey during the Revolutionary War.  He was reelected to Congress in 1777 and was nominated as state president from 1778-1781.  He died in 1784 while serving as Speaker of the Upper House of the Delaware Assembly

Button Gwinnett (1735-1777)Episcopalian Congregationalist—After the Governor died in 1777, Button Gwinnett served as the Acting Governor of Georgia for two months, but did not achieve reelection.  His life was one of economic and political disappointment.  Button Gwinnett was the second signer of the Declaration to die as the result of a duel outside Savannah, Georgia.

Lyman Hall (1724-1790)Congregationalist—Lyman Hall was one of four signers trained as a minister and was a graduate of Princeton College.  During his life he also served as a doctor, governor and planter.  During the Revolutionary War, his property was destroyed and he was accused of treason.  He left Georgia and spent time in South Carolina and Connecticut to escape prosecution.  When the war was over, he went back to Georgia and began to practice medicine.  He served as Governor of Georgia from 1783-1784.

In addition, therefore, to wholesome laws restraining vice, every encouragement ought to be given to introduce religion, and learned clergy to perform divine worship in honor of God, and to cultivate principles of religion and virtue among our citizens. For this purpose it will be your wisdom to lay an early foundation for endowing seminaries of learning; nor can you, I conceive, lay a better than by a grant of a sufficient tract of land, that may, as in other governments, hereafter, by lease or otherwise, raise a revenue sufficient to support such valuable institutions.”
Report of the Secretary Of The Interior being part of the Message And Documents communicated to the Two Houses Of Congress at the Beginning of the Second Session of the Fifty Fourth Congress. Vol V. Part 1.. Page 874. U.S. G.P.O. 1897

George Walton (1741-1804)Episcopalian—George Walton was elected to the Continental Congress in 1776, 1777, 1780 and 1781, Colonel of the First Georgia Militia, in 1778, Governor of Georgia from 1779-1780, Chief Justice of the State Superior Court of Georgia from 1783-89, a presidential elector in 1789, Governor of Georgia from 1789-1790 and a United States Senator from 1795-1796.  During the Revolutionary War, Walton was captured by the British in 1778 during the attack on Savannah and released within the year.  He was the founder of the Richmond Academy and Franklin College which later became the University of Georgia.

Charles Carroll (1737-1832)Catholic—Charles Carroll was one of the wealthiest men in America and was the oldest and longest surviving signer of the Declaration.  From 1789-1792 he served as one of Maryland’s two United States Senators.  He retired from politics in 1804 and spent the rest of his life managing his 80,000 acres of land in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York.

I, Charles Carroll. . . . give and bequeath my soul to God who gave it, my body to the earth, hoping that through and by the merits, sufferings, and mediation of my only Savior and Jesus Christ, I may be admitted into the Kingdom prepared by God for those who love, fear and truly serve Him
Kate Mason Rowland, Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890), Vol. II, pp. 373-374, will of Charles Carroll, Dec. 1, 1718

Samuel Chase (1741-1811)Episcopalian—Samuel Chase was called the “Demosthenes of Maryland” for his oratorical skills.  In 1785 he represented Maryland at the Mt. Vernon conference to settle a dispute between Maryland and Virginia concerning navigation rights on the Potomac River.  He served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1796-1811.  He was the only Supreme Court justice to be impeached in 1805.  He was charged with discriminating against supporters of Thomas Jefferson, and he was found to be not guilty.

In the case of Runkel v. Winemiller, 1799, Justice Chase gave the courts opinion:

“Religion is of general and public concern, and on its support depend, in great measure, the peace and good order of government, the safety and happiness of the people.”

“By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing, and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.”
Runkel v. Winemiller, 4 Harris & McHenry 276,288 (Sup. Ct. Md. 1799

William Paca (1740-1799
)Episcopalian—William Paca was elected to the Continental Congress from 1774-78, appointed Chief Justice of Maryland in 1778, Governor of Maryland from 1782-1785 and Federal District Judge for the State of Maryland from 1789-99.  He was also a planter and a lawyer, but was a relatively minor figure in national affairs.  William Paca also served as a delegate to the Maryland ratification convention for the Federal Constitution.

Thomas Stone (1743-1787)Episcopalian—Thomas Stone was one of the most conservative of the signers along with Carter Braxton of Virginia, George Read of Delaware and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina.  He was elected to the Congress from 1775-78 and again in 1783. He was chosen to be a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 but had to decline because of the poor health of his wife.  Shortly after she died in 1787, a grief stricken Stone died a few months later before making a trip to England.

John Adams (1735-1826)Congregationalist—John Adams was the first Vice-President of the United States and the second President.  He was a member (along with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman) chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence.  He was the first President to attend Harvard University and the first to have a son become president.

The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in this earth. Not a baptism, not a marriage, not a sacrament can be administered but by the Holy Ghost. . . . There is no authority, civil or religious – there can be no legitimate government but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it. All without it is rebellion and perdition, or in more orthodox words damnation
Letter from John Adams to Benjamin Rush, from Quincy, Massachusetts, dated December 21, 1809,

Samuel Adams (1722-1803)Congregationalist—Samuel Adams was known as the “Firebrand of the Revolution” for his role as an agitator between the colonists and the British prior to the outbreak of hostilities on April 1775.  He served in the Continental Congress until 1781 and was a member of the Massachusetts State Senate from 1781-1788.  Because he was opposed to a stronger national government, Adams refused to attend the Constitutional Convention in 1787.  He served as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1789-1793 and Governor from 1794-1797.

I conceive we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world . . . that the confusions that are and have been among the nations may be overruled by the promoting and speedily bringing in the holy and happy period when the kingdoms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and the people willingly bow to the scepter of Him who is the Prince of Peace
From a Fast Day Proclamation issued by Governor Samuel Adams, Massachusetts, March 20, 1797, in our possession; see also Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1908), Vol. IV, p. 407, from his proclamation of March 20, 1797

Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814)Episcopalian—Elbridge Gerry served for a time as a member of the state legislature of Massachusetts. Although he attended the meetings in Philadelphia to write a new Constitution, at the end he was opposed to it because it lacked a bill of rights.   However, after a “change of heart,” he was a member of the House of Representatives for the first two Congresses from 1789-1793.  He was Governor of Massachusetts in 1810 and 1811 and died in office as Vice-President under James Madison in 1814.

with one heart and voice we may prostrate ourselves at the throne of heavenly grace and present to our Great Benefactor sincere and unfeigned thanks for His infinite goodness and mercy towards us from our birth to the present moment for having above all things illuminated us by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, presenting to our view the happy prospect of a blessed immortality
Elbridge Gerry, Proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise, October 24, 1810

John Hancock (1737-1793)Congregationalist—John Hancock was the President of the Second Continental Congress when the Declaration of Independence was adopted.  He, along with Samuel Adams, were the two most wanted men in the colonies by King George III.  He served as a major general during the Revolutionary War.  He was elected Governor of Massachusetts from 1780-1785 and 1787 until his death in 1793.  He was the seventh President of the United States in Congress assembled, from November 23, 1785 to June 6, 1786.  John Hancock was one of the original “fathers” of U.S. independence.

He called on the entire state to pray “that universal happiness may be established in the world [and] that all may bow to the scepter of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole earth be filled with His glory.”
John Hancock, A Proclamation For a Day of Public Thanksgiving 1791, given as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814)Congregationalist: Unitarian—Robert Treat Paine was elected to the Continental Congress, in 1774 and 1776, Attorney General for Massachusetts from 1777-1796, Judge, Supreme Court of Massachusetts from 1796-1804 and State Counselor in 1804.  During his time in Congress, Paine concentrated primarily on military and Indian concerns.  Because of his opposition to many proposals, he was known as the “Objection Maker.”  Paine was one of the original founders of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

I am constrained to express my adoration of the Supreme Being, the Author of my existence, in full belief of His Providential goodness and His forgiving mercy revealed to the world through Jesus Christ, through whom I hope for never ending happiness in a future state
From the Last Will & Testament of Robert Treat Paine, attested May 11, 1814

Josiah Bartlett (1729-1795)Congregationalist—Josiah Bartlett served in Congress until 1779 and then refused reelection because of fatigue.  On the state level he served as the first Chief Justice of the Common Pleas (1779-1782), Associate (1782-1788) and Chief justice of the Superior Court (1788-1790).  Bartlett founded the New Hampshire Medical Society in 1791 and was the Governor of New Hampshire (1793-1794).

Called on the people of New Hampshire . . . to confess before God their aggravated transgressions and to implore His pardon and forgiveness through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ . . . [t]hat the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be made known to all nations, pure and undefiled religion universally prevail, and the earth be fill with the glory of the Lord
Josiah Bartlett, Proclamation for a Day of Fasting and Prayer, March 17, 1792.

Matthew Thornton (1714-1803)Presbytarian—Matthew Thornton served as Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, was an Associate Justice of the Superior Court and was elected to the Continental Congress in 1776.  He was one of six members who signed the Declaration of Independence after it was adopted by the Continental Congress.  He left Congress to return to New Hampshire to become an Associate Justice of the State Superior Court.  He spent his remaining years farming and operating a ferry on the Merrimack River.

William Whipple (1730-1785)Congregationalist—William Whipple was a former sea captain who commanded troops during the Revolutionary War and was a member of the Continental Congress from 1776-1779.  General Whipple was involved in the successful defeat of General John Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777.  He was a state legislator in New Hampshire from 1780-1784, Associate Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court from 1782-1785, and a receiver for finances for the Congress of the Confederation.  He suffered from heart problems and died while traveling his court circuit in 1785

Abraham Clark (1726-1794)Presbytarian—Abraham Clark was a farmer, surveyor and politician who spent most of his life in public service.  He was a member of the New Jersey state legislature, represented his state at the Annapolis Convention in 1786, and was opposed to the Constitution until it incorporated a bill of rights.  He served in the United States Congress for two terms from 1791 until his death in 1794.

“Our fates are in the hands of An Almighty God, to whom I can with pleasure confide my own; he can save us, or destroy us; his Councils are fixed and cannot be disappointed, and all his designs will be Accomplished.”

John Hart (1711-1779)Presbytarian—John Hart became the Speaker of the Lower House of the New Jersey state legislature.  His property was destroyed by the British during the course of the Revolutionary War, and his wife died three months after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  During the ravaging of his home, Hart spent time in the Sourland Mountains in exile.

[T]hanks be given unto Almighty God therefore, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die and after that the judgment [Hebrews 9:27] . . . principally, I give and recommend my soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it and my body to the earth to be buried in a decent and Christian like manner . . . to receive the same again at the general resurrection by the mighty power of God.
From his last will and testament, attested April 16, 1779

Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791)Episcopalian—Francis Hopkinson was a judge and lawyer by profession but also was a musician, poet and artist.  When the Revolutionary War was over, he became one of the most respected writers in the country.  He was later appointed Judge to the U.S. Court for the District of Pennsylvania in 1790.

Richard Stockton (1730-1781)Presbytarian—Richard Stockton was trained to be a lawyer and graduated from the College of New Jersey.  He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1776 and was the first of the New Jersey delegation to sign the Declaration of Independence.  In November 1776 he was captured by the British and was eventually released in 1777 in very poor physical condition.  His home at Morven was destroyed by the British during the war and he died in 1781 at the age of 50.

[A]s my children will have frequent occasion of perusing this instrument, and may probably be particularly impressed with the last words of their father, I think it proper here not only to subscribe to the entire belief of the great and leading doctrines of the Christian religion, such as the being of God; the universal defection and depravity of human nature; the Divinity of the person and the completeness of the redemption purchased by the blessed Savior; the necessity of the opera¬tions of the Divine Spirit; of Divine faith accompanied with an habitual virtuous life; and the universality of the Divine Providence: but also, in the bowels of a father’s affection, to exhort and charge [my children] that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, that the way of life held up in the Christian system is calculated for the most complete happiness that can be enjoyed in this mortal state, [and] that all occasions of vice and immorality is injurious either im¬mediately or consequentially – even in this life
Will of Richard Stockton, dated May 20, 1780

John Witherspoon (1723-1794)Presbytarian—John Witherspoon was the only active clergyman among the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  He was elected to the Continental Congress from 1776-1782, elected to the state legislature in New Jersey from 1783-1789 and was the president of the College of New Jersey from 1768-1792.  In his later years he spent a great deal of time trying to rebuild the College of New Jersey (Princeton).

[N]o man, whatever be his character or whatever be his hope, shall enter into rest unless he be reconciled to God though Jesus Christ
John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon (Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1815), Vol. V, p. 245, Sermon 15, “The Absolute Necessity of Salvation Through Christ,” January 2, 1758.

William Floyd (1734-1821)Presbytarian—William Floyd had his estate in New York destroyed by the British and Loyalists during the Revolutionary War.  He was a member of the United States Congress from 1789-1791 and was a presidential elector from New York four times.  He was later a major general in the New York militia and served as a state senator.

Francis Lewis (1713-1802)Episcopalian—Francis Lewis was one who truly felt the tragedy of the Revolutionary War.  His wife died as an indirect result of being imprisoned by the British, and he lost all of his property on Long Island, New York during the war.  When his wife died, Lewis left Congress and completely abandoned politics.

Philip Livingston (1716-1778)Presbytarian—Philip Livingston was not in Philadelphia to vote on the resolution for Independence, but did sign the actual Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776.  During the Revolutionary War, the British used Livingston’s houses in New York as a navy hospital and a barracks for the troops.  He was the third signer to die after John Morton of Pennsylvania and Button Gwinnett of Georgia.

In the book Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence (1856), Rev. Charles A. Goodrich states:

“He was a firm believer in the great truths of the Christian system, and a sincere and humble follower of the divine Redeemer.”

Lewis Morris (1726-1798)Episcopalian—Lewis Morris was a delegate to the Continental Congress, from 1775-77, a county judge in Worchester, New York from 1777-1778, served in the New York state legislature from 1777-1781 and 1784-1788 and was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.  During the Revolutionary War, Morris was a brigadier-general in the New York state militia, and all three of his sons served under General George Washington

John Hewes (1730- 1779)Quaker;Episcopalian—John Hewes was a merchant who was one of the most conservative signers of the Declaration of Independence.  He was a graduate of Princeton College, and he along with John Adams helped to establish the Continental Navy.  He was a member of the state legislature from 1778-1779 and was eventually reelected to the Continental Congress. He died a month after his reelection.

William Hooper (1742-1790)Episcopalian—William Hooper was a graduate of Harvard College and was highly successful in law and politics.  Because of his family situation and financial difficulties, he resigned from Congress to return to North Carolina.  During the war he was separated from his family for ten months and his property was destroyed.  After the war, he was elected to the state legislature and served there through 1786.

John Penn (1740-1788)Episcopalian—John Penn was one of sixteen signers of the Declaration of Independence who also signed the Articles of Confederation.  He was a member of the Continental Congress from 1775-77; 1779-80 and a member of the Board of War in 1780 which shared responsibility for military affairs with the governor. In 1784 he became a state tax receiver under the Articles of Confederation.  After retiring from politics, he practiced law until his death in 1788

George Clymer (1739-1813)Quaker;Episcopalian—George Clymer had a great deal of financial talent and signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  His home was vandalized by the British in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War.  He served in the Pennsylvania state legislature from 1784-1788 and was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1789-1791.  He was later appointed as “collector of taxes” on alcoholic beverages (especially whiskey) in Pennsylvania from 1791-1794.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)Episcopalian;Diest—After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin helped to negotiate the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778 and the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War in 1783.  He was one of the framers of the Constitution and was known as the “Sage of the Convention.”  He was also elected President of the Pennsylvania Society for the Promoting of the Abolition of Slavery.

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and His religion as He left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see.
Benjamin Franklin, Works of Benjamin Franklin, John Bigelow, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904), p. 185, to Ezra Stiles, March 9, 1790.

Robert Morris (1734-1806)Episcopalian—Robert Morris has been considered the  “Financier of the Revolution,” and contributed his own money to help such causes as the support of troops at Valley Forge and the battles of Trenton and Princeton.  In 1781 he suggested a plan that became the Bank of North America and was the Superintendent of Finance under the Articles of Confederation.  Morris was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and was later offered the position of Secretary of the Treasury under the administration of George Washington.  He declined the position and suggested Alexander Hamilton who became our first Secretary of the Treasury. He served as a United States Senator from Pennsylvania from 1789-1795.

John Morton (1725-1777)Episcopalian—John Morton was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence to die and was one of nine signers from Pennsylvania.   He was elected to the Second Continental Congress from 1774-77, and was the chairman of the committee that reported the Articles of Confederation.  He contracted an inflammatory fever and died in Ridley Park, Delaware County, Pa., in April 1777, and is buried in St. Paul’s Burial Ground in Chester, Pennsylvania.

With an awful reverence to the Great Almighty God, Creator of all mankind, being sick and weak in body but of sound mind and memory, thanks be given to Almighty God for the same
From his last will and testament, attested January 28, 1777

George Ross (1730-1779)Episcopalian—George Ross was elected to the Second Continental Congress from 1776-1777, was a colonel in the Continental Army in 1776; was Vice President of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention in 1776 and Judge of the Admiralty Court of Pennsylvania in 1779.  He was not a member of Congress when it voted for independence on July 2, 1776.  Because of illness, he was forced to resign his seat in Congress in 1777.

Benjamin Rush (1745-1813)Presbytarian—Benjamin Rush was elected to the Continental Congress in 1776, appointed Surgeon General in the Middle Department of the Continental Army in 1777, instructor and physician at the University of Pennsylvania in 1778, Treasurer of the U.S. Mint from 1779-1813, and professor of Medical Theory and Clinical Practice at the University of Pennsylvania from 1791-1813.  During the Revolutionary War, Rush was part of an unsuccessful plot to relieve General George Washington of his military command.  He was the most well-known doctor and medical instructor in the United States.  He was a trustee of Dickinson College, helped to found the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and was a member of the American Philosophical Society.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ prescribes the wisest rules for just conduct in every situation of life. Happy they who are enabled to obey them in all situations! . . . My only hope of salvation is in the infinite tran¬scendent love of God manifested to the world by the death of His Son upon the Cross. Noth¬ing but His blood will wash away my sins [Acts 22:16]. I rely exclusively upon it. Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly! [Revelation 22:20]
Benjamin Rush, The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush, George W. Corner, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948), pp. 165-166

James Smith (1719-1806)Presbytarian—James Smith was elected to the Continental Congress on July 20, 1776 after the votes had been taken on the resolution for independence and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  From 1779-1782 he held a number of state offices including one term in the state legislature and a few months as a Judge of the state High Court of Appeals. He was also appointed a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania militia in 1782.

Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 291-296.

“He was for many years a professor of religion, and very regular in his attendance on public worship.”

George Taylor (1716-1781)Presbytarian—George Taylor came to the colonies as an indentured servant and eventually was an Ironmaster at the Warwick Furnace and Coventry Forge.  He was a member of the Continental Congress from 1775-1777.  He returned to Pennsylvania and was elected to the new Supreme Executive Assembly, but served for a very short period of time because of illness and financial difficulties.   His Durham Furnace manufactured ammunition for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

James Wilson (1742-1798)Episcopalian;Presbytarian—James Wilson was elected to the Congress from 1775-77 and 1785-87, chosen to be one of the directors of the Bank of North America in 1781, a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and appointed by President George Washington to be an Associate Justice to the US. Supreme Court from 1789-1798.  He experienced personal and financial difficulty in his later years and spent time in debtor’s prison while serving on the Supreme Court.

“Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is Divine.”
James Wilson, The Works of the Honorable James Wilson, Bird Wilson, editor (Philadelphia: Bronson and Chuncey, 1804), Vol. II, pp. 495-497.

Thomas Heyward, Jr. (1746-1809)Episcopalian—Thomas Heyward was a planter and lawyer and was one of three signers from South Carolina captured and imprisoned by the British.  He signed the Articles of Confederation while a member of the Continental Congress.  He returned to South Carolina and became a judge and a member of the state legislature.  The British destroyed Heyward’s home at White Hall during the war and he was held prisoner until 1781.  After the war, he served two terms in the state legislature from 1782-1784.  Thomas Heyward became the first President of the Agricultural Society of South Carolina.

Thomas Lynch, Jr. (1749-1779)Episcopalian—Thomas Lynch, Jr. was an aristocratic planter who was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence to die at the age of thirty.  He was trained as a lawyer and graduated from Cambridge University in England, and was elected to the Second Continental Congress to carry on the duties of his ill father.  Thomas Lynch Sr. and Thomas Lynch Jr. were the only father and son team to serve concurrently in the Continental Congress.  Thomas Lynch, Jr. and his wife were enroute to France in 1779 when their ship was lost at sea.

Arthur Middleton (1742-1787)Episcopalian—Arthur Middleton was chosen to replace his more conservative father in the Continental Congress in 1776, but failed to attend most of the sessions.  He was captured by the British and was held captive for over a year in St. Augustine, Florida.  During the time of his incarceration, the British destroyed most of his property.  After his release in 1781, Middleton returned to politics and served in the Virginia state legislature and was a trustee of the College of Charleston.

Edward Rutledge (1749-1800)Episcopalian—Edward Rutledge was elected to the Continental Congress from 1774-76 and 1779, a captain in the Charleston Battalion of Artillery from 1776-1779, a state legislator from 1782-1798, College of Electors in the presidential elections of 1788, 1792, 1796 and elected Governor for South Carolina in 1798.  He was the youngest of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  During the Revolutionary War, Rutledge was a military captain involved in the campaigns at Port Royal Island and Charleston, South Carolina.  He was captured by the British in 1780 and held as a prisoner until 1781.  From 1782-1798 Rutledge was a member of the state legislature and was elected Governor in 1798

William Ellery (1727-1820)Congregationalist—William Ellery served with distinction in the Congress of the Confederation until 1786 when he accepted the post of Commissioner of the Continental Loan Office of Rhode Island.  He served in that position until 1790 when he was appointed Customs Collector in Newport.   Although the British destroyed his home during the American Revolution, Ellery was later able to rebuild his fortune.

Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785)Episcopalian—Stephen Hopkins was the second oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence (next to Benjamin Franklin).  He served on the committee that was responsible for the creation of the Articles of Confederation.  He was forced to resign from the Congress in 1776 because of health problems, but was elected to the state legislature of Rhode Island upon his return

Carter Braxton (1736-1797)Episcopalian—Carter Braxton was elected to the Virginia state legislature after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and also served on the Governor’s Executive Council.  The American Revolutionary War caused him great hardship and he died in financial ruin in Richmond, Virginia.

Benjamin Harrison (1726-1791)Episcopalian—Benjamin Harrison was nicknamed the “Falstaff of Congress” and was the father of President William Henry Harrison and great-grandfather of President Benjamin Harrison.  He was the Speaker of the Lower House of the Virginia state legislature from 1777-1781 and served three terms as Governor of Virginia from 1781-1783.  He was originally in opposition of the new Federal Constitution, but later favored it when it was decided to add a bill of rights.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)Episcopalian/Diest—Thomas Jefferson was the chief author of the Declaration of Independence.  He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1776-79, elected Governor of Virginia in 1779 and 1780, the Associate Envoy to France in 1784, Minister to the French Court in 1785, United States Secretary of State from 1789-1793, Vice President of the United States from 1791-1801, President of the United States from 1801-1809 and established the University of Virginia in 1810.  He was one of the most brilliant men of his time.

I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ
Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington, D.C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIV, p. 385, to Charles Thomson on January 9, 1816

Francis Lightfoot Lee (1734-1797)Episcopalian—Francis Lightfoot Lee was the younger brother of Richard Henry Lee.  He signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation as well as serving on both the military and marine committees during his time in Congress.  He left Congress in 1779 and served a few years in the Virginia state legislature.

Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794)Episcopalian—Richard Henry Lee introduced the resolution for independence to the Second Continental Congress in June 1776. He was a Virginia state legislator from 1780-1784 and served in the national Congress again from 1784-1789.  He was initially opposed to the Constitution because it lacked a bill of rights, but he was elected Senator from Virginia from 1789-1792.  However, Lee was forced to resign in 1792 due to poor health.

“It is true, we are not disposed to differ much, at present, about religion; but when we are making a constitution, it is to be hoped, for ages and millions yet unborn, why not establish the free exercise of religion, as a part of the national compact.”

Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, IV, 12 October 1787

Thomas Nelson, Jr. (1738-1789)Episcopalian—Thomas Nelson, Jr. had his Congressional career shortened because of health problems.  He served as the commanding General of the Lower Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War.  He was a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1775-77; 1779 and was elected Governor of Virginia in 1781 after Thomas Jefferson declined reelection.  He spent his remaining years handling his business affairs.

George Wythe (1726-1806)Episcopalian—George Wythe was more well-known as being a classical scholar who taught such great men as Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Marshall and Henry Clay.  He was elected to the Continental Congress from 1775-76, Speaker of the Virginia House from 1777-78 and judge of the Chancery Court of Virginia from 1789-1806.  He was also appointed the first chair of law at the College of William and Mary.  Wythe died mysteriously in 1806 by being poisoned

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