Tuesday, July 05, 2011


After all the things I read about the Declaration of Independence for July 4th, I thought I would put up a list of the signers, in part because I was interested in how the list overlapped with the signers of the other two constitutive documents of the United States, the Articles of Confederation (which first began to be signed July 9, 1778) and the U.S. Constitution. I have bolded those who also signed the Articles and italicized those who also signed the Constitution. If you see anything that needs to be corrected, let me know.


Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton


John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry


Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery


Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott


William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris


Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark


Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross


Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean


Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton


George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton


William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn


Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton


Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

In addition, of course, there are family links: for instance, Lewis Morris of New York had a half-brother, Gouverneur Morris, who signed the Articles and the Constitution; Charles Carroll had a cousin, Daniel Carroll, who signed the Articles and the Constitution; and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina had an older brother, John Rutledge, who signed the Constitution.

Note that two of the signers, Roger Sherman and Robert Morris (sometimes known as the Financier of the Revolution), signed all three documents. Morris originally voted against the motion for independence -- indeed, never voted for it; he simply abstained to let Pennsylvania cast a yes vote, and then signed the Declaration. He is usually said to have stated when he signed that it was the duty of every citizen to follow when he could not lead. (John Dickinson, Morris's fellow delegate from Pennsylvania also voted against, then abstained; but he never signed. Dickinson was in favor of independence broadly speaking, but thought that things were moving too quickly, and that certain things needed to be in place first. Dickinson went on to sign both the Articles of Confederation -- one of the things he thought needed to be drafted before independence, in fact -- and the Constitution, and so by his abstention missed being the third person to sign all three.) I find the pair interesting since together they seem to sum up so much of the character of the nation they were founding: Morris, a businessman through and through, seems to have been a purely nominal Episcopalian, got many of his early breaks in the slave trade, and was a war profiteer, eventually ending in debtor's prison because of his constant speculations; Sherman was a devout Congregationalist who opposed slavery and was active in education (he had fairly little formal education himself, but because of his facility with mathematics he became a surveyor, then a publisher of almanacs, then a lawyer, and eventually became a treasurer and professor of religion for Yale).

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