Classic Works of Apologetics - America's Christian Heritage - Signers of the Declaration of Independence Classic Works of Apologetics Online

America's Christian Heritage:
Signers of the Declaration of Independence

These are the biographies of the American Founding Fathers who risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor by signing the Declaration of Independence. All were Christian, or were advocates of the Christian faith. The documentation is presented here.

Historical Overview

  • The American's Guide: The Constitutions of the United States of America, with the latest amendments: also the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, with the federal Constitution, and acts for the government of the territories. New-York: Evert Duyckinck, 1813; G. Long. 392 pp. 15 cm.

  • The American's Own Book, containing the Declaration of Independence, with the Lives of the Signers: The Constitution of the United States, The inaugural addresses and first annual messages of all the presidents from Washington to Pierce, the farewell addresses of George Washington and Andrew Jackson, with a portrait and life of each president of the United States, to the present time. New York, 1855. 495 pp.

  • John Reynolds Bigelow. The American's Own Book, or, The Constitutions of the several states in the Union: embellished with the seals of the different states. New-York, 1849. 566 pp.

  • Edward Currier. The Political Textbook: containing the Declaration of Independence, with the lives of the signers; the Constitution of the United States; the inaugural addresses and first annual messages of all the Presidents, from Washington to Tyler; the farewell addresses of George Washington and Andrew Jackson; and a variety of useful tables, etc. Worcester, Mass, W. Blake, 1842. 512 pp. tables. 19 cm.

  • The Constitutions of the United States of America, with their latest amendments carefully corrected. Baltimore: From the Franklin Press, by H. Niles, 1815. 6, 225 pp. Contents: Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and the Constititutions of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Dalaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana.

  • The Signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Republican Compiler, Gettysburg, PA, August 23, 1826, p. 2. Reprinted from the Salem Register.

  • Memoranda of Some of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Torch Light And Public Advertiser, Hagers-Town, Maryland, Thursday, July 26, 1827, p. 1.
  • Adams, President John Quincy, 1767-1848. An Address delivered at the request of a committee of the citizens of Washington: on the occasion of reading the Declaration of Independence, on the Fourth of July, 1821. Washington, 1821. 30 pp. Also here.

  • Adams, President John Quincy, 1767-1848. An Oration Addressed to the citizens of the town of Quincy, on the Fourth of July, 1831, the fifty-fifth anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America. Boston, 1831. 39 pp. Also here and here.

  • Adams, President John Quincy, 1767-1848. An Oration delivered before the inhabitants of the town of Newburyport, at their request, on the sixty-first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Newburyport, Mass., 1837. 68 pp. Also hereand here.
  • Adams, President John Quincy, 1767-1848. The Jubilee of the Constitution: a discourse delivered at the request of the New York historical society. New York, 1839. 135 pp.

  • Barton, David / Charles David, b. 1954. Was the American Revolution a Biblically Justified Act?

  • Barton, David / Charles David, b. 1954. The American Revolution: Was it an Act of Biblical Rebellion? Posted May 2009.
  • Barton, David / Charles David, b. 1954. The Founders as Christians.

  • Barton, David / Charles David, b. 1954. The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity and the Bible.

  • Barton, David / Charles David, b. 1954. 4th of July Article.

  • Duffield, Jr., George, 1818-1888. The God of our fathers; An Historical sermon preached in the Coates' Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, on Fast Day, January 4, 1861. Philadelphia: T.B. Pugh, (Philadelphia : H.B. Ashmead) 1861. 56 pp.; 23 cm. Also here and in the Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection.

  • Dwight, Nathaniel, 1770-1831. The Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. New York, 1851. 378 pp.

  • Charles Augustus Goodrich, 1790-1862. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence with a sketch of the life of Washington. Hartford: H.E. Robins, 1849. 479 pp.
    1829 edition here. W. Reed & Co., 1829. 460 pp.
  • Judson, L. Carroll. A Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of independence: and of Washington and Patrick Henry. With an appendix, containing the Constitution of the United States and other documents, Volume 1. J. Dobson, and Thomas, Cowperthwait & co., 1839. 354 pp. Volume 2. T. Whittaker, 1891. 354 pp.

  • Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891. Seventeen hundred and seventy-six, or, The war of independence: a history of the Anglo-Americans, from the period of the union of the colonies. New York, 1847. 490 pp.

  • Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891. The lives of the presidents of the United States: embracing a brief history of the principal events of their respective administrations. New York, 1848. 121 pp.

  • Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891. Lives of the signers of the Declaration of American independence: the declaration historically considered: and a sketch of the leading events connected with the adoption of the Articles of Confederation, and of the Federal Constitution. Philadelphia, 1870. 382 pp.

  • Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891. Biographical sketches of the signers of the Declaration of American independence the Declaration historically considered; and a sketch of the leading events connected with the adoption of the Articles of confederation and of the federal constitution. New York: J.C. Derby, 1854. iv, 384 pp.: ill.; 20 cm. 1859 edition.

  • Marshall, James V., c. 1856. The United States manual of biography and history: comprising lives of the presidents and vice presidents of the United States, and the cabinet officers, from the adoption of the Constitution to the present day. Also, lives of the signers of the Declaration of independence, and of the old Articles of confederation, of the framers of the Constitution of the United States, and of the chief justices of the Supreme court of the United States. With authentic copies of the Declaration of independence, the Articles of confederation, and the Constitution of the United States. To which is prefixed an introductory history of the United States. . Philadelphia, 1856. 727 pp.

  • Myers, Colonel Theodorus Bailey, editor, 1821-1888. The Historical Magazine, and Notes and Queries Concerning the Antiquities, History, and Biography of America (1857-1875), Vol. 4, Iss. 5, November 1868, pp. 1-48. Coverage of The Declaration of Independence and biographies of its signers.

  • Perry, William Stevens, 1832-1898. The Faith of The Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Tarrytown, N.Y., William Abbatt, 1926. 54 pp.

  • Perry, William Stevens,1832-1898. The General Ecclesiastical Constitution of the American church: its history and rationale. T. Whittaker, 1891 - 291 pp.

  • Rogers, Thomas Jones, 1781-1832. A New American Biographical Dictionary; or, Remembrancer of the departed heroes, sages, and statesmen, of America. Confined exclusively to those who have signalized themselves in either capacity, in the revolutionary war. Comp. by Thomas J. Rogers. 3d edition; with important alterations and additions. Easton, Pa.: T. J. Rogers, 1824. viii, [9]-504 p. 24 cm.

  • Sanderson, John, 1783-1844. With Robert Waln; Henry D Gilpin. Sanderson's Biography of the signers to the Declaration of Independence. Philadelphia: R.W. Pomeroy, 1820-1827. 9 vol.: ill.; 24 cm. Note(s): Engraved t.-p./ Vols. 1-4 dated 1823; v. 5-6, 1824; v. 7-9, 1827./ John Sanderson's name appears as above on t.-p. of v. 1-4./ Vols. 1-2 edited by John Sanderson, v. 3-6 by Robert Wain, jr. v. 7-9 are without editor's name, but were edited by Henry D. Gilpin, according to statement in Mrs. Eliza Gilpin's Memorial of Henry D. Gilpin, Philadelphia, 1860, p. 194. Volumes numbered on the half-titles./ A list of authors of the biographies (originally published in the New York Times) may be found in Proc. of Massachusetts Historical Society, 1876-1877 [v. 15] p. 393./ Also issued online.
  • Thompson, Joseph Parrish, 1819-1879. The United States as a Nation: Lectures on the Centennial of American Independence. Boston: James Osgood & Co., 1877. Also here. Republished as Let the Cannon Blaze Away by Solid Ground Christian Books, 2005. xxvii, 323 pp.; 23 cm. Contents: Grounds and motives of the American Revolution -- Doctrines of the Declaration of Independence -- Adoption of the Constitution -- The nation tested in the vicissitudes of a century -- The nation judged by its self-development and its benefits to mankind -- The perils, duties, and hopes of the opening century. Buy this book here.

  • U.S. National Parks Service. Biographical Sketches.
    Researchers are invited to peruse additional resources at

    Signers of the Declaration

    Adams, President John

    American President. Read more about President Adams here. Disclaimer: Adams shifted from Congregationalist to Unitarian.


    Adams, Samuel

    Congregationalist. Read about Samuel Adams here.


    Baldwin, Abraham

    Congregationalist; Episcopalian. Delegate from Georgia. OCLC Note: Baldwin was born in North Guilford, Conn., graduated from Yale University (1772) and served in the Revolutionary War (1777-1783) as chaplain. He studied law and admitted to the bar in Conn. in 1784. He moved to Augusta, Ga., in 1784 to practice law. After service in the Georgia House of Representatives (1785) he served in the Continental Congress from Georgia (1785, 1787 and 1788) and was a member of the U.S. Constitutional Congress. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1789-1799) and in the U.S. Senate (1799-1807). He was one of the founders of the University of Georgia and its first president (1786-1801).

    Dictionary of Georgia Biography, Vol. 1, p. 47-8, E. Merton Coulter: Abraham Baldwin, Georgia politician and educator, and Founder of the University of Georgia, was born in North Guilford, Connecticut, on November 22, 1754, to Michael and Lucy Dudley Baldwin. Michael, the local blacksmith, had moved his family (including Abraham and his seven half-siblings) to New Haven to secure an education for his children. There, Abraham attended Yale College, and remained three years after graduation to study theology. He was licensed to preach in 1775, but became a tutor at Yale instead, remaining there until 1779. He joined the Continental Army as a Chaplain, serving in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. During this service, he met George Washington, Nathanael Greene, and other future leaders. Yale asked him to return as a professor of Divinity in 1781, but Baldwin declined, preferring to study the law rather than submit to the narrow controlled environment at the college. After he was licensed to practice, he elected to move to Georgia in 1783, probably at the urging of Greene.

    Settling in Savannah, Baldwin quickly found his place in Georgia, and followed the relocation of the state capitol to Augusta. In the fall of 1784, he was elected to the legislature from Wilkes County, and soon became well-to-do by means of his thriving law practice. In February of 1784, he had been asked to sit on a board of trustees charged with administering a land grant of 40,000 acres set aside by the state for the purpose of establishing a "College or Seminary of Learning". Baldwin wrote the charter for the University of Georgia, and saw it adopted by the state legislature in January of 1785. This charter was the first ever written and adopted for a state-supported public University.

    The University, originally to be sited at the planned new state capitol in Louisville, was not built until 1801 due to a war with Creek Indians, and then it was situated at a spot on the Oconee River selected by a committee led by Baldwin. The town was named Athens, and work on the actual University was begun. Also in 1785, Baldwin was named a delegate to the Confederation Congress, where he served until the Constitution became the law of the land. From 1788 to 1798, he served in the House of Representatives, and he was elected a Senator by the state legislature that same year. He would remain in the U.S . Senate until his death, serving several times as President pro tempore of that body. He chaired the committee which structured the national executive branch, and accomplished much in the area of negotiations with the various Indian tribes in his adopted home state. A man of enormous personal integrity, he was able to avoid a duel when challenged. Baldwin was firmly committed to states' rights, and felt that, although slavery was wrong, that Georgia would eventually abandon it. He was opposed to war as a tool of political policy, and though originally more conservative in his political philosophies, gradually became more liberal, and counted Thomas Jefferson as a close friend.

    The day after the closing session of the 9th session of Congress (March 4, 1807), Abraham Baldwin died in Washington D.C., and was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery.

    Read about Baldwin here, here, and here.


    Bartlett, Josiah

    Congregationalist. American physician and statesman in Kingston, New Hampshire. Delegate to the Continental Congress for New Hampshire. Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Later, Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court of Judicature and Governor of New Hampshire. Read about Bartlett here, here, here and here. Not to be confused with Josiah Bartlett, 1759-1820, Freemason.


    Bassett, Richard

    Methodist. Delegate from Delaware. American lawyer and politician from Dover, in Kent County, Delaware. He was a veteran of the American Revolution, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and a member of the Federalist Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly, as Governor of Delaware, and as U.S. Senator from Delaware. Read about Bassett in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress and at the United States Army Center of Military History.


    Bedford, Jr., Gunning

    Presbyterian. His tombstone reads, in part: "In Hope of a joyful resurrection through faith in Jesus Christ here rests the mortal part of Gunning Bedford ... His form was goodly, his temper amiable, his manner winning, and his discharge of private duties exemplary. Reader, may his example stimulate you to improve the talents --be they five or two, or one--with which God has entrusted you." OCLC note: Delegate to the Continental Congress, the Annapolis Convention of 1786, and the Constitutional Convention; member of the Delaware Convention that ratified the Constitution; federal district judge for Delaware (1789-1812); known as Gunning Bedford, Jr., to distinguish himself from an older cousin, Gunning Bedford, Sr., (1742-1797). Read about Bedford here, here and here. Note: He served as Grand Master of the Delaware Masonic Lodge.


    Braxton, Carter

    Episcopalian. American political leader. Read about Braxton here and here.


    Carroll, Charles

    Catholic. American political leader. Read about Carroll here and here.

    Lossing, p. 158: "Charles Carroll, the Revolutionary patriot, was born on the twentieth of September, 1737. When he was only eight years of age, his father, who was a Roman Catholic, took him to France, and entered him as a student in the Jesuit College at St. Omer's. There he remained six years, and then went to another Jesuit seminary of learning, at Rheims. After remaining there one year, he entered the College of Louis le Grand, whence he graduated at the age of seventeen years, and then commenced the study of law at Bourges. He remained at Bourges one year, and then moved to Paris, where he continued until 1757. He then went to London for the purpose of continuing his law studies there. He took apartments in the Inner Temple, where he remained until 1765, and then returned to Maryland, a most finished scholar and well-bred gentleman."


    Chase, Samuel

    Episcopalian. Delegate of Maryland. Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Read more about Chase here, here, here, and in The Oyez Project.


    Clark, Abraham

    Presbyterian. Delegate and a Representative from New Jersey. Read more about Clark here and here.


    Clymer, George

    Quaker, Episcopalian. OCLC Notes: Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Pennsylvania, member of the Continental Congress, signer of the Constitution, and a representative in the first U.S. Congress. Read more about Clymer here, here, here, here, here and in Lives of the signers to the Declaration of Independence by Charles Augustus Goodrich.


    Ellery, William

    Congregationalist. Representative of Rhode Island. Read about Ellery here, here, and here.

  • Charles Augustus Goodrich, 1790-1862. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence with a sketch of the life of Washington. Hartford: H.E. Robins, 1849. 479 pp.
    1829 edition here. W. Reed & Co., 1829. 460 pp.
    During these movements in Rhode Island, Mr. Ellery, the subject of this notice, was by no means an idle spectator. The particular history of the part which he took in these transactions is, indeed, not recorded; but the tradition is, that he was not behind his contemporaries either in spirit or action.
    In the election for delegates to the congress of 1776, Mr. Ellery was a successful candidate, and in that body took his seat, on the seventeenth of May. Here, he soon became ar active and influential member, and rendered important services to his country, by his indefatigable attention to duties assigned him, on several committees. During this session, he had the honour of affixing his name to the declaration of independence. Of this transaction he frequently spoke, and of the notice he took of the members of congress when they signed that instrument. He placed himself beside secretary Thompson, that he might see how they looked, as they put their names to their death warrant. But while all appeared to feel the solemnity of the occasion, and their countenances bespoke their awe, it was unmingled with fear. They recorded their names as patriots, who were ready, should occasion require, to lead the way to martyrdom.
    ... During the year that the British army under General Piggot took possession of Newport, where they fortified themselves, and continued their head quarters for some time, the inhabitants sustained much injury in their property. Mr. Ellery shared in the common loss, his dwelling house being burned, and other destruction of property occasioned.


    Floyd, William

    Presbyterian. Representative from New York. Read about Floyd here, here and here.

  • Charles Augustus Goodrich, 1790-1862. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence with a sketch of the life of Washington. Hartford: H.E. Robins, 1849. 479 pp.
    1829 edition here. W. Reed & Co., 1829. 460 pp.
    In the year 1777, General Floyd (we give him this military appellation, from the circumstance of his having some time before been appointed to the command of the militia on Long Island) was appointed a senator of the state of New York, under the new constitution. In this body, he assisted to organize the government, and to accommodate the code of laws to the changes which had recently been effected in the political condition of the state.
    In October, 1778, he was again elected to represent the state of New York in the Continental Congress. From this time, until the expiration of the first congress, under the federal constitution, General Floyd was either a member of the national assembly, or a member of the senate of New York. In this latter body, he maintained a distinguished rank, and was often called to preside over its deliberations, when the lieutenant governor left the chair.


    Franklin, Benjamin

    Unitarian. A Founding Father of the United States of America. Author, printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. Read more about Franklin here, here, here, and in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.


    Gerry, Elbridge Thomas

    Episcopalian. Read about Gerry here, here, here and here.


    Gwinnett, Button

    Episcopalian. Delegate to U.S. Continental Congress, Georgia. Read about Gwinnett here, here and here.


    Hall, Lyman

    Congregationalist. One of the four signers (the others were William Hooper, Robert Treat Paine, and John Witherspoon) originally trained as ministers. Read about Hall here, here and here.


    Hancock, John

    Congregationalist. American merchant, statesman, president of the Second Continental Congress and the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Read about Hancock here, here, and here.


    Harrison, Benjamin

    Episcopalian. Read about Harrison here, here and here.

    Register of the District of Columbia Society of the American Revolution: " HON. BENJAMIN HARRISON (1726-1791), of "Berkeley," Charles City County, Virginia, Member and Speaker, Virginia House of Burgesses; Signer of Williamsburg Resolutions of 1774; Member of Virginia Conventions; Member of Continental Congress and Chairman of Continental Board of War, which directed and controlled the War of the Revolution. June 10, i776, as Chairman of a Committee of Congress, introduced the resolution that had been offered three days before, by Richard Henry Lee, declaring the Independence of the American Colonies, and on July 4, reported the Declaration of Independence, voted for and signed it; was Member of Virginia House of Delegates and Speaker until 1781, and twice elected Governor; Colonel, in command of the Militia of Charles City County, Virginia, and active and efficient against Arnold and Cornwallis when they invaded Virginia."


    Hart, John
    (c. 1711-1779)

    Presbyterian, Baptist. Delegate from New Jersey. Read about Hart here, here and here.

    OCLC: "John Hart lived for most of his life in Hopewell Township, New Jersey where he worked as a farmer. The exact date of his birth is unknown, although most sources cite the year as 1711. It is believed that he was born in Stonington, Connecticut and moved to Hopewell with his parents at an early age. His father, Edward Hart, worked as a Justice of the Peace, public assessor, and farmer; he was also a commander of the New Jersey Blues, a corps of volunteers that served in the French-Canadian wars. Father and son worked together to build a successful farm, which John later inherited after his father's death in 1752. In 1739, John Hart married Deborah Scudder, daughter of Lt. Richard Scudder of Scudder's Falls; together the couple had thirteen children. By 1750, he was elected Freeholder for Hunterdon County, the highest elected office in the county. John Hart was becoming a leading member of his community. In 1775, he was appointed to the local Committee of Safety, the Committee of Correspondence, and a judge to the Court of Common Pleas. The following year Hart was elected to the newly formed Provincial Congress of New Jersey, and was sent as one of five delegates to represent the state at the 2nd Continental Congress. On July 4th, he and the other four delegates from New Jersey signed the Declaration of Independence."


    Hewes, Joseph

    Episcopalian. Delegate of North Carolina. Father of the United States Navy. Read about Hewes here, here, here, and here.


    Heyward, Jr., Thomas

    Episcopalian. Delegate from South Carolina. Read about Heyward here, here, here, here, and here.


    Hooper, William

    Episcopalian. Delegate from North Carolina. Read about Hooper here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


    Hopkins, Stephen

    Quaker. Delegate from Rhode Island. Read about Hopkins here, here and here.

  • William Eaton Foster. Stephen Hopkins: a Rhode Island statesman. A study in the political history of the eighteenth century. Issue 19 of Rhode Island historical tracts. Library of American civilization. S. S. Rider, 1884. 485 pp. "Governor Hopkins severed his connection with the Society of Friends in 1773. (Records of Smithfield Monthly Meeting of Friends, 1773). For the circumstances of this occurrence see Chapter VIII.[sic, Appendix U], of this work."-p. 57.
    "He still continued to call himself a Friend." --p. 247. Providence Journal, May 26, 1855.
  • Samuel Greene Arnold. History of the State of Rhode Island. 1859.
  • Samuel Greene Arnold. History of the state of Rhode Island and Providence plantations, Volume 2. D. Appleton, 1860.
  • Sanderson, John, 1783-1844. With Robert Waln; Henry D Gilpin. Biography of the signers to the Declaration of Independence. Philadelphia: R.W. Pomeroy, 1820-1827. Volume 6. 1824. v. 6. Arthur Middleton, Abraham Clark, Francis Lewis, John Penn, James Wilson, Carter Braxton, John Morton, Stephen Hopkins, Thomas McKean. Also here.
  • Benson John Lossing. Biographical sketches of the signers of the Declaration of American independence: the Declaration historically considered; and a sketch of the leading events connected with the adoption of the Articles of confederation and of the federal constitution. J.C. Derby, 1854. 384 pp.
    "He was a sincere and consistent Christian, and the impress of his profession was upon all his deeds." --p. 46.
  • Memoranda of Some of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Torch Light And Public Advertiser, Hagers-Town, Maryland, Thursday, July 26, 1827, p. 1.
  • Revolutionary Anecdotes. The Hagerstown Mail, Hagers-Town, Maryland, Friday, July 30, 1841, p. 1. Column C.
  • Revolutionary Anecdote. The Adams Sentinel, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Monday, November 28, 1842, p. 1. Column B. Also "Henry Clay--The Life, the Soul, the Embodiment of Whig Principles," p. 1, Column D.
  • As a Meeting of Commissioners of the several States of New Hampshire, massachusetts, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Connecticut and New-York, holden at Hartford, in Connecticut, as the 30th October, A. D. 1779; The Hon. STEPHEN HOPKINS, Esq President HAZEKIAH WYLLYS, Esq: Secretary MEMBERS PRESENT. Connecticut Courant and Weekly. Nov 16, 1779. pp. 1-2.
  • Article 3 -- No Title. The Connecticut Courant (1764-1774). Hartford, Conn.: June 26, 1769, p. 3.

  • The Rights of the Colonies Examined. Providence, M.DCC.LXV [i.e., 1764]. 23 pp. Also here.
  • The Grievances of the American colonies candidly examined. Printed by authority, at Providence, in Rhode-Island. London, MDCCLXVI. [1765?]. 46 pp.
  • Rhode Island. Governor (1755-1765: Hopkins) By the Honorable Stephen Hopkins, Esq; ... A Proclamation: ... Thursday, the twentieth of this instant May, to be observed as a day of fasting and prayer ... Given under my hand, at Providence, the twelfth day of May, one thousand seven hundred and fifty-six. [Newport, R.I.: Printed by James Franklin, 1756]. 1 sheet: ill. (relief cut)

  • Rhode Island. Governor (1755-1765: Hopkins). By the Honorable Stephen Hopkins, Esq; governor ... of Rhode-Island ... A Proclamation. ... I issue this Proclamation, hereby ordering that Thursday, the twenty-second day of November current, be observed and kept by all the inhabitants of this colony, as a day of Publick Thanksgiving ... Given under my hand, at the Council chamber, at South-Kingstown, the second day of November ... Annoq; dom. 1759. [Newport, R.I: Printed by James Franklin, 1759]. 1 sheet; 35 x 29 cm.

  • Rhode Island. Governor (1755-1765: Hopkins). By the Honorable Stephen Hopkins, Esquire, governor ... of Rhode-Island ... A Proclamation for a general Thanksgiving in said colony. ... Given under my hand and the seal of the colony aforesaid, at Providence, the fifth day of November ... Anno domini, 1760. [Newport, R.I: Printed by James Franklin, 1760]. 1 sheet; 37 x 32 cm.

  • Rhode Island. Governor (1763-1765: Hopkins). By the Honorable Stephen Hopkins, Esq; governor ... of Rhode-Island ... A Proclamation. The burdens and calamities of a cruel and expensive war, having been happily terminated by a just and glorious peace, the King hath judged it proper, that a Publick Thanksgiving to Almighty God, should be observed throughout all his colonies in America ... Thursday the twenty-fifth day of the present month ... Given under my hand and seal at arms, at Providence, the eighth day of August ... 1763. Providence: Printed by William Goddard, [1763]. 1 sheet. Coat of arms.

    Hopkinson, Francis

    Episcopalian. First American composer, was also a literary satirist, jurist, and inventor. In 1777 he designed the American flag. Read about Hopkinson here, here, here, here, and here. Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936. Gale Biography In Context: He was an active churchman and in 1789 served as secretary of the convention that organized the Protestant Episcopal Church.


    Huntington, Samuel

    Congregationalist. Delegate from Connecticut. Read about Huntington here.

    Lossing, p. 55: "Governor Huntington lived the life of the irreproachable and sincere Christian, and those to which (by desire) is prefixed, an eulogium, spoken on the delivery of the medal at the public commencement in th College of Philadelphia, May 20th, 1766. Philadelphia, M,DCC,LXVI. [1766]. ho knew him most intimately, loved him the most affectionately, He was a thoughtful man, and talked but little - the expression of his mind and heart was put forth in his actions. He seemed to have a natural timidity, or modesty, which some mistook for the reserve of haughtiness, yet with those with whom he was familiar, he was free and winning in his manners. Investigation was a prominent characteristic of his mind, and when this faculty led him to a conclusion, it was difficult to turn him from the path of his determination. Hence as a devoted Christian and a true patriot, he never swerved from duty, or looked back after he had placed his hand to the work."


    Jefferson, President Thomas

    Episcopalian, Unitarian. A Founding Father of the United States. Principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Third American President. Horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, inventor, and founder of the University of Virginia. Read about President Jefferson here.

    William Stevens Perry, Bishop of Iowa: "The author of the Declaration itself, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, although in his later life regarded as an 'infidel,' and certainly holding and advocating at times views quite inconsistent with those accepted by any Christian body, served a s a vestryman in his early days and was by birth and baptism connected with the Church. To the very last of life he was a regular attendant at Church and must be classed, in view of his baptism, family associations, and life-long attendance on the services of the Church, as, at least, a nominal Churchman. His Prayer-Book, used in Church in his latest years, is still preserved, and the columns of a leading Church paper, a few years ago, contained full attestations of the statements we have made." The Faith of The Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Tarrytown, N.Y., William Abbatt, 1926.


    Lee, Francis Lightfoot

    Episcopalian. Delegate from Virginia. Brother of Richard Henry Lee. Member of the Continental Congress 1775-1779; one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; member of the State house of delegates in 1780 and 1781; served in the Virginia State senate 1778-1782. Read about Lee here, here, here.and here.


    Lee, Richard Henry

    Episcopalian. Brother of Francis Lightfoot Lee. Read about Lee here, here and here.


    Lewis, Francis

    Episcopalian. Delegate from New York. Member of the Continental Congress 1775-1779; was a signer of the Declaration of Independence; delegate to the provincial convention in 1775; member of the Committee of One Hundred in 1775; served in the Provincial Congress in 1776 and 1777. Read about Lewis here, here and here. Note: Lewis was a Freemason.

  • Charles Augustus Goodrich, 1790-1862. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence with a sketch of the life of Washington. Hartford: H.E. Robins, 1849. 479 pp.
    1829 edition here. W. Reed & Co., 1829. 460 pp.
    The independent and patriotic character which Mr. Lewis was known to possess, the uniform integrity of his life, the distinguished intellectual powers with which be was endued, all pointed him out as a proper person to assist in taking charge of the interest of the colony in the continental congress. Accordingly, in April, 1775, he was unanimously elected delegate to that body. In this honorable station he was continued by the provincial congress of New-York, through the following year, 1776; and was among the number who declared the colonies forever absolved from their allegiance to the British crown, and from that time entitled to the rank, and privileges of free and independent states.
    In several subsequent years, he was appointed to represent the state in the national legislature. During his congressional career, Mr. Lewis was distinguished for a becoming zeal in the cause of liberty, tempered by the influence of a correct judgment and a cautious prudence. He was employed in several secret services in the purchase of provisions and clothing for the army and in the importation of military stores, particularly arms and ammunition. In transactions of this kind, his commercial experience gave him great facilities. He was also employed on various committees, in which capacity, he rendered many valuable services to his country.
    In 1775, Mr. Lewis removed his family and effects to a country seat which he owned on Long Island. This proved to be an unfortunate step. In the autumn of the following year, his house was plundered by a party of British light horse. His extensive library and valuable papers of every description were wantonly destroyed. Nor were they contented with this ruin of his property. They thirsted for revenge upon a man, who had dared to affix his signature to a document, which proclaimed the independence of America. Unfortunately Mrs. Lewis fell into their power, and was retained a prisoner for several months. During her captivity, she was closely confined, without even the comfort of a bed to lie upon, or a change of clothes.
    In November, 1776, the attention of congress was called to her distressed condition, and shortly after a resolution was passed that a lady, who had been taken prisoner by the Americans, should be permitted to return to her husband, and that Mrs. Lewis be required in exchange. But the exchange could not at that time be effected. Through the influence of Washington, however, Mrs. Lewis was at length released; but her sufferings during her confinement had so much impaired her constitution, that in the course of a year or two, she sunk into the grave.
    Of the subsequent life of Mr. Lewis, we have little to record. His latter days were spent in comparative poverty, his independent fortune having in a great measure been sacrificed on the altar of patriotism, during his country's struggle for independence. The life of this excellent man, and distinguished patriot, was extended to his ninetieth year. His death occurred on the 30th day of December, 1803.


    Livingston, Philip

    Episcopalian, Presbyterian. Delegate from New Jersey. Read about Livingston here, here, here and here.

  • Charles Augustus Goodrich, 1790-1862. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence with a sketch of the life of Washington. Hartford: H.E. Robins, 1849. 479 pp.
    1829 edition here. W. Reed & Co., 1829. 460 pp.
    In 1770, the agent of the colony of New-York dying, the celebrated Edmund Burke was chosen in his stead. Between this gentleman and a committee of the colonial assembly, a correspondence was maintained. As the agent of the colony, he received a salary of five hundred pounds. He represented the colony in England, and advocated her rights. Hence the office was one of great importance. Not less important were the duties of the committee of correspondence. Upon their representations, the agent depended for a knowledge of the state of the colony. Of this committee Mr. Livingston was a member. From his communications, and those of his colleagues, Mr. Burke doubtless obtained that information of the state of the colonies, which he sometimes brought forward, to the perfect surprise of the house of commons, and upon which he often founded arguments, and proposed measures, which were not to be resisted.
    He was a firm believer in the great truths of the Christian system, and a sincere and humble follower of the divine Redeemer.


    Lynch Jr., Thomas

    Episcopalian. Delegate from South Carolina. Read about Lynch here, here, here, here, and here.


    McKean, Thomas

    Presbyterian. Delegate from Delaware. Read about McKean here, here, here, here, here and here by Buchanan, Roberdeau, 1839-1916


    Middleton, Arthur

    Episcopalian. South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress and U.S. representative from and governor of South Carolina, and diplomat. Read about Middleton here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


    Morris, Lewis

    Episcopalian. Read about Morris here, here, here and Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence with a sketch of the life of Washington. Hartford: H.E. Robins, 1849. 479 pp.
    1829 edition here. W. Reed & Co., 1829. 460 pp.
    On the 15th of May, he took his seat in that body, and eminently contributed, by his indefatigable zeal, to promote the interests of the country. He was placed on a committee of which Washington was the chairman, to devise ways and means to supply the colonies with ammunition and military stores, of which they were nearly destitute. The labors of this committee were exceedingly arduous.
    During this session of congress, Mr. Morris was appointed to this delicate and difficult task of detaching the western Indians from a coalition with the British government, and securing their cooperation with the American colonies. Soon after his appointment to this duty, he repaired to Pittsburgh, in which place, and the vicinity, he continued for some time zealously engaged in accomplishing the object of his mission. In the beginning of the year 1776, he resumed his seat in congress, and was a member of several committees, which were appointed to purchase muskets and bayonets, and to encourage the manufacture of salt-peter and gunpowder.
    But, notwithstanding this prevalent aversion to a separation from Great Britain, there were many in the colony who believed that a declaration of independence was not only a point of political expediency, but a matter of paramount duty. Of this latter class, Mr. Morris was one; and, in giving his vote for that declaration, he exhibited a patriotism and disinterestedness which few had it in their power to display. He was at this time in possession of an extensive domain, within a few miles of the city of New York. A British army had already landed from their ships, which lay within cannon shot of the dwelling of his family. A signature to the Declaration of Independence would insure the devastation of the former, and the destruction of the latter. But, upon the ruin of his individual property, he could look with comparative indifference, while he knew that his honor was untarnished, and the interests of his country were safe. He voted, therefore, for a separation from the mother country, in the spirit of a man of honor, and of enlarged benevolence.
    It happened as was anticipated. The hostile army soon spread desolation over the beautiful and fertile manor of Morrisania. His tract of woodland of more than a thousand acres in extent, and, from its proximity to the city, of incalculable value, was destroyed; his house was greatly injured; his fences ruined; his stock driven away; and his family obliged to live in a state of exile. Few men during the revolution were called to make greater sacrifices than Mr. Morris; none made them more cheerfully. It made some amends for his losses and sacrifices, that the colony of New York, which had been backward in agreeing to a Declaration of Independence, unanimously concurred in that measure by her convention, when it was learned that congress had taken that step.


    Morris, Robert

    Episcopalian. Read about Morris here, here, here, here and here.


    Morton, John

    Episcopalian. Delegate from Pennsylvania. Cast the deciding vote leading to a declaration of independence. Chairman of committee which later adopted the Articles of Confederation. First representative to die after signing the Declaration. Read about Morton here, here, here, here, here and here.


    Nelson Jr., Thomas

    Episcopalian. Delegate from Virginia. Fourth governor of Virginia. Read about Nelson here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and in A Guide to the Executive Papers of Governor Thomas Nelson, Jr., 1781; June 12-November 22; Accession Number 44502; A Collection in the Library of Virginia.


    Paca, William

    Episcopalian. Delegate from Maryland. Third governor of Maryland. Read about Paca here, here, here, here, here, here and here.


    Paine, Robert Treat

    Congregationalist. Delegate from Massachusetts. Read about Paine here, here, here, here and here. Not to be confused with Robert Treat Paine, minister, 1773-1811, who wrote Eulogy on the Life of General George Washington.


    Penn, John

    Episcopalian. Delegate from North Carolina. Read about Penn here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Note: Penn was a Freemason.


    Read, George

    Episcopalian. Delegate from Delaware. Read about Read here, here and here.


    Rodney, Caesar

    Episcopalian Read about Rodney here, here, here, here, here, and here.


    Ross, George

    Episcopalian. Delegate of Pennsylvania. Read about Ross here, here, here and here.

  • Charles Augustus Goodrich, 1790-1862. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence with a sketch of the life of Washington. Hartford: H.E. Robins, 1849. 479 pp.
    1829 edition here. W. Reed & Co., 1829. 460 pp.
    At an early age, he gave indications of possessing talents of a superior order. These indications induced his father to give him the advantages of a good education. At the age of eighteen he entered upon the study of law, under the superintendence of an elder brother, who was at that time in the practice of the profession, in the city of Philadelphia.
    Soon after being admitted to the bar, he established himself at Lancaster, at that time near the western limits of civilization. He soon became connected in marriage with a lady of a respectable family. For several years he continued to devote himself, with great zeal, to the duties of his profession in which, at length, he attained a high reputation, both as a counselor and an advocate.
    Mr. Ross commenced his political career in 1768, in which year he was first returned as a representative to the assembly of Pennsylvania. Of this body he continued to be re-elected a member, until the year 1774, when he was chosen in connection with several other gentlemen, a delegate to the celebrated congress which met at Philadelphia. At the time he was appointed to a seat in this congress, be was also appointed to report to the assembly of the province, a set of instructions, by which the conduct of himself and colleagues were to be directed. The instructions thus drafted and reported, were accepted by the assembly. In concluding these instructions, the assembly observed: "that the trust reposed in you is of such a nature, and the modes of executing it may be so diversified in the course of your deliberations, that it is scarcely possible to give you particular instructions respecting it. We shall, therefore, only in general direct, that you are to meet in congress the committees of the several British colonies, at such time and place as shall be generally agreed on, to consult together on the present critical and alarming situation and state of the colonies, and that you, with them, exert your utmost endeavors to form and adopt a plan, which shall afford the best prospect of obtaining a redress of American grievances, ascertaining American rights, and establishing that union and harmony, which is most essential to the welfare and happiness of both countries. And in doing this, you are strictly charged to avoid every thing indecent or disrespectful to the mother state."
    Mr. Ross continued to represent the state of Pennsylvania in the national legislature, until January, 1777, when, on account of indisposition, he was obliged to retire. During his congressional career, his conduct met the warmest approbation of his constituents. He was a statesman of enlarged views, and under the influence of a general patriotism, he cheerfully sacrificed his private interests for the public good. The high sense entertained by the inhabitants of the county of Lancaster, of big zeal for the good of his country, and of his constituents in particular, was expressed in the following resolution: "Resolved, that the sum of one hundred and fifty, pounds, out of the county stock, be forthwith transmitted to George Ross, one of the members of assembly for this county, and one of the delegates for this colony in the continental congress; and that he be requested to accept the same, as a testimony from this county, of their sense of his attendance on the public business, to his great private loss, and of their approbation of his conduct. Resolved, that if it be more agreeable, Mr. Ross purchase with part of the said money, a genteel piece of plate, ornamented as he thinks proper, to remain with him, as a testimony of the esteem this county has for him, by reason of his patriotic conduct, in the great struggle of American liberty." Such a testimony of respect and affection, on the part of his constituents, must have been not a little gratifying to the feelings of Mr. Ross. He felt it his duty, however, to decline accepting the present, offering as an apology for so doing, that he considered it as the duty of every man, and especially of every representative of the people, to contribute, by every means within his power, to the welfare of 'his country, without expecting pecuniary rewards.
    The attendance of Mr. Ross in congress, did not prevent him from meeting with the provincial legislature. Of this latter body, he was an active, energetic, and influential member. In the summer of 1776, it was found by the general assembly, that the circumstances of the state required the adoption of some decisive measures, especially in respect to putting the city of Philadelphia, and the province, in a state of defense. A committee was accordingly appointed, of which Mr. Ross was one, to report what measures were expedient. In a few days that committee did report, recommending to the people to associate for the protection of their lives, and liberty, and property, and urging upon the several counties of the province the importance of collecting stores of ammunition and arms. A resolution was also offered, providing for the payment of all such associations as should be called out to repel any attacks made by the British troops. To carry these plans into effect, a general committee of public safety was appointed, and clothed with the necessary authority. To this committee Mr. Ross was attached, and was one of its most active and efficient members. He also belonged to another important committee, viz. that of grievances.
    On the dissolution of the proprietary government in Pennsylvania, a general convention was assembled, in which Mr. Ross represented the county of Lancaster. Here, again, he was called to the discharge of most important duties, being appointed to assist in preparing a declaration of rights on behalf of the state, for forming rules of order for the convention, and for defining and settling what should be considered high treason and misprision of treason against the state, and the punishment which should be inflicted for those offenses.
  • Perry, William Stevens, 1832-1898. The Faith of The Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Tarrytown, N.Y., William Abbatt, 1926. 54 pp.

    George Ross was Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Convention of July 15, 1776, and prepared and proposed the "Declaration of Rights" which dissolved Proprietary Government of the Province and declared the commonwealth free and independent agreeably to the Declaration.


    Rush, Benjamin

    American founder. civic leader in Philadelphia, physician, politician, social reformer, educator and humanitarian. Founder of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Member of the Continental Congress. Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Surgeon General in the Continental army. Professor of chemistry, medical theory, and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Read more about Rush here and here.


    Rutledge, Edward

    Episcopalian. Delegate of South Carolina. Read about Rutledge here, here, here, here, and here.


    Sherman, Roger

    Congregationalist. American lawyer and politician. Signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Read about Sherman here, here, here, here, and here.

    Lossing, p. 55: "Roger Sherman fearlessly took part with the patriots, and was a leader among them in Connecticut, until the war broke out. He was elected a delegate from Connecticut to the Continental Congress, in 1774, and was present at the opening on the fifth of September. He was one of the most active members of that body, and was appointed one of the Committee to prepare a draft of a Declaration of Independence; a document to which he affixed his signature with hearty good will, after it was adopted by Congress."


    Smith, James

    Presbyterian. Read about Smith here, here here, here and in Colonial Hall.

  • Charles Augustus Goodrich, 1790-1862. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence with a sketch of the life of Washington. Hartford: H.E. Robins, 1849. 479 pp.
    1829 edition here. W. Reed & Co., 1829. 460 pp.
    In the month of July, a convention was assembled in Philadelphia, for the purpose of forming a new constitution for Pennsylvania. Of this body, Colonel Smith was elected a member, and he appeared to take his seat on the 15th day of the month. On the 20th be was elected by the convention a member of congress, in which body he took his seat, after the adjournment of the convention. Colonel Smith continued a member of congress for several years, in which capacity he was active and efficient. He always entertained strong anticipation of success during the revolutionary struggle, and by his cheerfulness powerfully contributed to dispel the despondency which he often saw around him. On withdrawing from congress, in November, 1778, he resumed his professional pursuits, which he continued until the year, 1800, when he withdrew from the bar, having been in the practice of his profession for about sixty years.
    He was for many years a professor of religion, and very regular in his attendance on public worship.


    Stockton, Richard

    Presbyterian, buried in a Quaker cemetery. Read about Presbyterian here, here, here, here and here. Note: Stockton was a Freemason.


    Stone, Thomas

    Episcopalian. Delegate from Maryland. Read about Stone here, here, here and here.


    Taylor, George

    Episcopalian. Delegate from Pennsylvania. Continental congressman, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and ironmaster. Read about Taylor here, here, here, here, and here.

  • Charles Augustus Goodrich, 1790-1862. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence with a sketch of the life of Washington. Hartford: H.E. Robins, 1849. 479 pp.
    1829 edition here. W. Reed & Co., 1829. 460 pp.
    A few years after, Mr. Taylor was summoned by his fellow-citizens into public life. Of the provincial assembly, which met at Philadelphia, in October, 1764, he was for the first time a member, and immediately rendered himself conspicuous, by the active part which he took in all the important questions which came before that body.
    From this period, until 1770, Mr. Taylor continued to represent the county of Northampton in the provincial assembly. He was uniformly placed on several standing committees, and was frequently entrusted, in connexion with other gentlemen, with the management of many important special concerns, as they continued to rise. At Northampton, Mr. Taylor entered into the business, which had so extensively occupied him, while at Durham. The business, however, at the former place was by no means as profitable as it had been at the latter. Indeed it is said, that the fortune of Mr. Taylor suffered so considerably, that he was at length induced to return to Durham to repair it.
    ... In October, 1775, he was again elected a delegate to the provincial assembly in Pennsylvania, and in the following month was appointed, in connexion with several other gentlemen, to report a set of instructions to the delegates, which the assembly had just appointed to the continental congress.
    Fortunately for the cause of American liberty, the change in public sentiment above alluded to, continued to spread, and on taking the great question of a declaration of independence, an approving vote by all the colonies was secured in its favor. The approbation of Pennsylvania, however, was only obtained by the casting vote of Mr. Morton, as has already been mentioned in our biographical notice of that gentleman. On the, 20th of July, the Pennsylvania convention proceeded to a new choice of Representatives. Mr. Morton, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Morris, and Mr. Wilson, who had voted in favor of the declaration of independence, were re-elected. Those who had opposed it were at this time dropped, and the following Gentlemen were appointed in their place, viz.: Mr. Taylor, Mr. Ross, Mr. Clymer, Dr. Rush, and Mr. Smith. These latter Gentlemen were consequently not present on the fourth of July, when the declaration was passed and proclaimed, but they had the honor of affixing their signatures to the engrossed copy, on the second of August following, at which time the members generally signed it.


    Thornton, Matthew

    Congregationalist; Presbyterian. Signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Hampshire. Read about Thornton here, here, here, here, here, here and here. He was identified as a Presbyterian by the Presbyterian Historical Society and the Presbyterian Church, USA. (Source: Ian Dorion, "Table of the Religious Affiliations of American Founders", 1997).
    From: B. J. Lossing, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, George F. Cooledge & Brother: New York (1848) [reprinted in Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, WallBuilder Press: Aledo, Texas (1995)], page 21: Dr. Thornton was greatly beloved by all who knew him, and to the close of his long life he was a consistent and zealous Christian. He always enjoyed remarkably good health, and by the practice of those hygeian virtues, temperance and cheerfulness, he attained a patriarchal age.


    Walton, George

    Episcopalian. Delegate from Georgia. Read about Walton here, here, here, here, here, here and in Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 10, 1889. Note: Walton was a Freemason.


    Whipple, William

    Congregationalist. Delegate from New Hampshire, Read about Whipple here, here here, here, and here.


    William Williams

    Congregationalist. Read about Williams here, here, here, here, here and here.


    Wilson, James, M.A.

    Episcopalian, Presbyterian. American statesman. One of the six signers of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Read more about Wilson here and here.
    Lossing, p. 129: "For many years, Mr. Wilson stood at the head of the Philadelphia bar, and so popular was he as an advocate, that nearly every important case that came before the higher tribunals of that State was defended by him. As a patriot none was firmer; as a Christian none sincerer; and as a husband, father, neighbor and friend, he was beloved and esteemed in the highest degree."

  • Founders Famous and Forgotten. The Intercollegiate Review, Fall 2007, pp. 3-12.
    There is the tragic case of James Wilson, who died in ignominy in 1798 at age 56, fleeing from creditors for failed land speculation. He was buried in an obscure country graveyard in Edenton, North Carolina.27 Today, Wilson is virtually unknown to the American public, but he was among the most trenchant and influential minds at the Constitutional Convention (making more speeches than any other delegate, save Gouverneur Morris), and he stamped an indelible mark on American legal theory through his influential law lectures and tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court.
    27. See Maxey, "The Translation of James Wilson," 29- 43.


    Witherspoon, John

    Presbyterian. Reverend. Read more about Witherspoon here and here and here


    Wolcott, Oliver

    Congregationalist. Signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and also the Articles of Confederation as a representative of Connecticut. Read more about Wolcott here and here.


    Wythe, George

    Episcopalian. American lawyer, a judge, a prominent law professor, signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and "Virginia's foremost classical scholar." Read about Wythe here and here


    Other Statesmen and Patriots

    Backus, Isaac

    Baptist preacher. Delegate to the First Continental Congress. Founded Rhode Island College, later Brown University. Learn about Backus here.


    Blair, John

    Presbyterian; Episcopalian. American politician, Founding Father and jurist. Read about Blair in the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges and here.


    Madison, James

    Philosopher and mathematician. Read more about Bishop Madison here. Scroll to the bottom of the page


    Robbins, Ammi Ruhamah

    First minister of Norfolk, Connecticut, 1761-1813. Chaplain in the American army in the northern campaign of 1776.


    Washington, George

    First President of the United States. Read more about Washington here.



    Of the following definitions, two dictionaries are used: Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, and Oxford English Dictionary, 1989.


    1. A believer in the religion of Christ.
    2. A professor of his belief in the religion of Christ.
    3. A real disciple of Christ; one who believes in the truth of the Christian religion, and studies to follow the example, and obey the precepts, of Christ; a believer in Christ who is characterized by real piety.
    4. In a general sense, the word Christians includes all who are born in a Christian country or of Christian parents.

    CHRISTIAN, a. [See the Noun.]
    1. Pertaining to Christ, taught by him, or received from him; as the Christian religion; Christian doctrines.
    2. Professing the religion of Christ; as a Christian friend.
    3. Belonging to the religion of Christ; relating to Christ, or to his doctrines, precepts and example; as christian profession and practice.
    4. Pertaining to the church; ecclesiastical; as courts Christian.

    --Noah Webster. An American Dictionary of the English Language, intended to exhibit, I. The origin, affinities and primary signification of English words, as far as they have been ascertained: II. The genuine orthography and pronunciation of words, according to general usage or to just principles of analogy: III. Accurate and discriminating definitions, with numerous authorities and illustrations: to which are prefixed an introductory dissertation on the origin, history and connection of the languages of Western Asia and of Europe and a concise grammar of the English language. New York: S. Converse, (New Haven [Conn.]: (Hezekiah Howe), 1828.

    CHRISTIAN, adj. and n.
    A. adj.
    1. a. Of persons and communities: Believing, professing, or belonging to the religion of Christ.
    2. a. Of things: Pertaining to Christ or his religion: of or belonging to Christianity.
    B. n.
    1. a. One who believes or professes the religion of Christ; an adherent of Christianity.

    Christian, adj. and n.
    --Oxford English Dictionary,Second edition, 1989; online version November 2010. ; accessed 30 January 2011. Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1889.


    2. a. The religion of Christ; the Christian faith; the system of doctrines and precepts taught by Christ and his apostles.

    Christianity, n.
    --Oxford English Dictionary,Second edition, 1989; online version November 2010. ; accessed 30 January 2011. Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1889.


    THEOC'RACY, n. [Gr. God, and power; to hold.] Government of a state by the immediate direction of God; or the state thus governed. Of this species the Israelites furnish an illustrious example. The theocracy lasted till the time of Saul.

    Noah Webster. An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

    a. A form of government in which God (or a deity) is recognized as the king or immediate ruler, and his laws are taken as the statute-book of the kingdom, these laws being usually administered by a priestly order as his ministers and agents; hence (loosely) a system of government by a sacerdotal order, claiming a divine commission; also, a state so governed: esp. applied to the commonwealth of Israel from the exodus to the election of Saul as king.

    theocracy, n.
    --Oxford English Dictionary,Second edition, 1989; online version November 2010. ; accessed 31 January 2011. Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1912.


    DEISM, n. [L. God.] The doctrine or creed of a deist; the belief or system of religious opinions of those who acknowledge the existence of one God, but deny revelation: or deism is the belief in natural religion only, or those truths, in doctrine and practice, which man is to discover by the light of reason, independent and exclusive of any revelation from God. Hence deism implies infidelity or a disbelief in the divine origin of the scriptures.
    The view which the rising greatness of our country presents to my eyes, is greatly tarnished by the general prevalence of deism, which, with me, is but another name for vice and depravity. P. Henry, Wirys Sketches.

    --Noah Webster. An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

    DEISM, n.
    1. The distinctive doctrine or belief of a deist; usually, belief in the existence of a Supreme Being as the source of finite existence, with rejection of revelation and the supernatural doctrines of Christianity; 'natural religion'.

    deism, n.
    --Oxford English Dictionary,Second edition, 1989; online version November 2010. ; accessed 30 January 2011. Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1894.


    DEIST, n. One who believes in the existence of a God, but denies revealed religion, but follows the light of nature and reason, as his only guides in doctrine and practice; a freethinker.

    --Noah Webster. An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

    DEIST, n.
    One who acknowledges the existence of a God upon the testimony of reason, but rejects revealed religion. (The term was originally opposed to atheist, and was interchangeable with theist even in the end of the 17th c. (Locke, Second Vindication, 1695, W. Nichols Conference with a Theist, 1696); but the negative aspect of deism, as opposed to Christianity, became the accepted one, and deist and theist were differentiated as in quots. 1878-1880.)

    deist, n.
    --Oxford English Dictionary,Second edition, 1989; online version November 2010. ; accessed 30 January 2011. Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1894.


    UNITA'RIAN, n. [L. unitus, unus.] One who denies the doctrine of the trinity, and ascribes divinity to God the Father only. The Arian and Socinian are both comprehended in the term Unitarian.

    --Noah Webster. An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

    UNITARIAN, n. and adj.
    A. n.
    1. Theol.
    a. One who affirms the unipersonality of the Godhead, especially as opposed to an orthodox Trinitarian; spec. a member or adherent of a Christian religious body or sect holding this doctrine.

    Unitarian, n. and adj.
    --Oxford English Dictionary,Second edition, 1989; online version November 2010. ; accessed 30 January 2011. Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1924.


    SEC'ULAR, a. [L. secularis, from seculum, the world or an age.]
    1. Pertaining to the present world, or to things not spiritual or holy; relating to things not immediately or primarily respecting the soul, but the body; worldly. The secular concerns of life respect making making provision for the support of life, the preservation of health, the temporal prosperity of men, of states, &c. Secular power is that which superintends and governs the temporal affairs of men, the civil or political power; and is contradistinguished from spiritual or ecclsiastical power.
    2. Among catholics, not regular; not bound by monastic vows or rules; not confines to a monastery or subject to the rules of a religious community. Thus we say, the secular clergy and the regular clergy.
    3. Coming once in a century; as a secular year.

    --Noah Webster. An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.


    3. Polit. A theory or system of devolution and autonomy for organizations and individuals in preference to monolithic state power. Also: (advocacy of) a political system within which many parties or organizations have access to power.
    4. The presence or tolerance of a diversity of ethnic or cultural groups within a society or state; (the advocacy of) toleration or acceptance of the coexistence of differing views, values, cultures, etc.

    pluralism, n.
    --Oxford English Dictionary,Third edition, December 2009; online version November 2010. ; accessed 30 January 2011. An entry for this word was first included in New English Dictionary, 1907.


    1. b. spec. Usu. with capital initial. The action or process of freeing human understanding from the accepted and customary beliefs sanctioned by traditional, esp. religious, authority, chiefly by rational and scientific inquiry into all aspects of human life, which became a characteristic goal of philosophical writing in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Freq. in the Age of Enlightenment (cf. sense 2).Closely associated with sense 2.

    2. With the and capital initial. The dominant European intellectual culture in the 18th cent. which typically emphasized freedom of thought and action without reference to religious and other traditional authority, proposed a deistic understanding of the universe, insisted on a rationalist and scientific approach to the understanding of human society, the law, education, the economy, etc., and had as an important aim the development of new theoretical methods and practical reforms for these areas; (also) the period of time during which this climate of thought was dominant. Cf. Aufklärung n., illumination n. 3. The Enlightenment spread across most of Western Europe and to European colonies in the Americas, typically with different aspects predominating in different countries or regions (e.g. the flowering of social and economic thought in Scotland). Hence, the term is often modified by an adjective denoting one of the main centres of activity, suggesting the particular characteristics or contribution of the thinkers from that area, as French Enlightenment, Scottish Enlightenment, etc.

    Enlightenment, n.
    --Oxford English Dictionary, Third edition, August 2010; online version November 2010. ; accessed 30 January 2011. An entry for this word was first included in New English Dictionary, 1891.

    "Enlightenment, French siècle des Lumières (Age of the Enlightened), German Aufklärung, a European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries in which ideas concerning God, reason, nature, and man were synthesized into a worldview that gained wide assent and that instigated revolutionary developments in art, philosophy, and politics. Central to Enlightenment thought were the use and the celebration of reason, the power by which man understands the universe and improves his own condition. The goals of rational man were considered to be knowledge, freedom, and happiness.

    ... "Enlightenment thought, however, failed in many respects. It tried to replace a religious world view with one erected by human reason. It failed in this because it found reason so often accompanied by willpower, emotions, passions, appetites, and desires that reason can neither explain nor control. In the end, the adequacy of reason itself was attacked, first by David Hume in his 'Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding', and later by Immanuel Kant in the 'Critique of Pure Reason'. Most thinkers came to realize that cool and calculating reason is insufficient to explain the variety of human nature and the puzzling flow of history."

    --Enlightenment. (2011). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from

    Recommended Resources

    Bulletin of the New York Public Library, Volume 1, By the New York Public Library:

    The earliest official text of the Declaration in any collection of documents was that in The Constitutions of the several independent states of America; the Declaration of Independence; etc., Philadelphia, 1781; of which edition the library possesses Secretary Thomson's own copy.

    Among the numerous later reprints the following may be mentioned: Historical Magazine, 2nd series, vol. 4 (Nov., 1868) p. 209, accompanied by letters of the signers, and a short sketch of each (this number of the Magazine was edited by Colonel Theodorus Bailey Myers); Hough's American Constitutions, vol. 1 (Albany, 1871) p. 5; see also id. p. 1; B. P. Poore's Charters and constitutions, vol. 1 (Washington, 1877) p. 1; Preston's Documents Illustrative of American history, N. Y., 1886, p. 210.

    For contemporary accounts see the following: John Adams's Works; Almon's Remembrancer, vols. 1 and 2, London, 1776 and 1777; Andrews's History of the war, vol. 2 (London, 1786) p. 180; Force's American Archives, using the indexes s. v. Independence, etc.; Franklin's Writings (Sparks) vol. 1, pp. 373, 380, 406; Gordon's History of the American war, vol. 2 (London, 1788) pp. 248-298; The History of the War in America, vol. 1 (Dublin, 1779) p. 172, or The Impartial History of the War, London, 1780, p. 322; The History of the Origin, Rise, and Progress of the War in America, Boston, 1780, p. 196; Jefferson's Autobiography in his Writings (Washington, vol. 1, (Ford) vol. 1; see also Randall's Jefferson, vol. 1 (N. YM 1858) ch. 5; Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, 1782, p. 217, or his Writings (Washington), vol. 8, p. 363; F. Moore's Diary of the Revolution, vol. 1 (N. Y., 1860, passim; J. Murray's Impartial history of the present war in America, vol. 2 (London, 1780) ch. 11; Ramsay's History of the revolution of South Carolina, vol. 1 (Trenton, 1785) ch. 7. Sparks's Correspondence of the Revolution, 4 vols., Boston, 1853; James Wilson's Works (J. DeW. Andrews) vol. 1 (Chicago, 1896) pp. 373, 507, 560, vol. 2, pp. 408, 507, 547, 556.

    Later discussions may be found in Adolphus's History of England, vol. 2 (London, 1841) p. 348; Paul Allen's History of the American revolution, vol. 1 (Baltimore, 1822) p. 341; Bancroft's History of the U. S., vol. 4 (N. Y., 1891) ch. 20,21, 24-28; Botta's Storia dclla guerra dell' independenza degli Stati Uniti d'America, vol. 2 (Milan, 1819) p. 304, or Otis's translation of Botta, vol. 1 (Boston, 1826) p. 318; Bryant Gay's Popular history of the U. S. vol. 3 (N. Y., 1884) ch. 19; A. W. Clason on The Fallacy of the Declaration of Independence in the Magazine of American History, vol. 13 {May, 1885) p. 444; Richard Dillard on the Declaration of Independence by a colonial church, in the Magazine of American history, vol. 28 (Dec, 1892) p. 401; Donne's Correspondence of George III, vol. 2, London, 1867; Fiske's American Revolution, vol. 1 (Boston, 1893) p. 102; his article on The Eve of Independence in the Atlantic Monthly, vol. 62 (Nov., 1888) p. 612; Peter Force in LitteU's Living Age, vol. 44, p. 387; Frothingham's Rise of the republic, Boston, 1872, ch. 10, 11; The Centenary in the Galaxy, for July 1875; Percy Greg's History of the U.S, vol. 1 (London, 1887) p. 257; Greene's Historical view of the American Revolution, Boston, 1865; C. C. Jones in the Magazine of American History, vol. 20 (Sept., 1888) p. 202, on The Declaration in Savannah, Georgia; Lecky's England, vol. 3 (London, 1887) p. 459; Benson J. Lossing on Our National Anniversary, in Harper's Magazine, vol. 3 (July, 1851) p. 145; Mahon's England, vol. 6 (London, 1851) p. 138, or vol. 6 (Boston, 1853) p. 98; Massey's England, vol. 2 (London, 1858) p. 274; N.H. Morris on The Birth of the American republic, in Potter's American monthly, vol. 4 (July, 1875) p. 491, and 1776-1826-1876: The Great Committee and its Great Chairman of the Masterly Pen in id., vol. 7 (July, 1876) p. 17; Pitkin's History of America, vol. 1 (New Haven, 1828) p. 348; Goldwin Smith's United States, N. V., 1893, p. 87, and his articles in the Nineteenth Century, vol. 23 (Jan. and June. 1888) pp. 92, 881, on American Statesmen; the note by Jared Sparks on American Independence, in his edition of Washington's Writings, vol. 2, app. 10, p. 406; C. J. Stille on Pennsylvania and the Declaration of Independence, in the Pennsylvania Magazine of history, vol. 13 (1889) p. 385; W. L. Stone on The Declaration of Independence in a new light, in Harper's Magazine, vol. 67 (July, 1S83) p. 208; M. C. Tyler on The Declaration of Independence in the light of modern criticism, in the North American Review, vol. 163 (July, 1896) p. 1; George E. Ellis on The sentiment of independence, its growth and consummation in Winsor's Narrative and critical history of America, vol. 6 (Boston, 1888) ch. 3.

    The best collection of lives of the signers is John Sanderson's Biography of the signers to the Declaration of Independence, 9 vols., Philadelphia, 1823-1827. Later editions of it, revised and edited by Robert T. Conrad, in one volume in 1846, and again in 1852, are also in the library, as well as an edition illustrated by William Brotherhead, and published at Philadelphia in 1865. See also Brotherhead's Book of the Signers, Philadelphia, 1861, later enlarged and reissued as the Centennial book of the Signers, in 1875. Sabin, vol. 18, no. 76398 gives the collation and lists of the portraits in the original edition of Sanderson; and lists of the authors of the various lives are given in Brotherhead's Book of the Signers, Phila., 1861, p. iv, and in the Narrative and critical history of America, vol. 6 (Boston, 1888) p. 265. See too J. Everett's review of the first two volumes in the North American Review, vol. 16 (Jan. 1823) p. 184. Benson J. Lossing compiled Biographical sketches of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence, N. Y., 1860. Sketches of the signers are also found in Niles's Register, vol. 37 (Sept. 12, 1829) p. 41: Harper's Monthly Magazine, vol. 7 (July, 1853) p. 153, and vol. 47 (July and Aug., 1873) pp. 258, 424. For individual biographies of the more prominent actors, the following may be suggested: W. V. Wells's Samuel Adams, vols. 1 and 2, Boston, 1865; Morley's Edmund Burke, London, 1867, ch. 4; Campbell's Lord Camden in his Lives of the Lord Chancellors, vol. 7 (London, 1857) p. 7; C. J. Stilli's John Dickinson, ch. 5, in the Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, vol. 13, Phila., 1891; Lord John Russell's Life of Charles James Fox, vol. 1 (London, 1859) p. 101; W. W. Henry's Patrick Henry, vol. 1 (N. Y., 1891) pp. 207. 363, 391, 401; R. H. Lee's Richard Henry Lee, vol. 1 (Phila., 1825) pp. 165, 275; K. M. Rowland's George Mason, 2 vols., N. Y., 1892; Moncure D. Conway's Thomas Paine, N. Y., 1893; Sparks's Gouverneur Morris, vol. 1 (Boston, 1832) p. 109.

    For the constitutional aspect of the question, see Cooley's General principles of constitutional law, Boston, 1880; G. T. Curtis's History of the Constitution, vol. 1 (N. Y., 1897) Ch. 3, 7; Von Hoist's Constitutional and Political History of the U. S. , vol. 1 (Chicago, 1876) ch. 1; Kent's Commentaries, vol. 1 (New York, 1826) p. 195; Story's Commentaries, vol. 1 (Boston, 1833) p. 190.

    On the signing of the instrument see John Adams's Works, vol. 3, p. 55, vof. 7, p. 397, vol. 9, p. 398, vol. 10, pp. 35, 87; and Jefferson's Writings (Ford) vol. 1, p. 28, foot note. See also M. M. Baldwin in the Magazine of American History, vol. 20 (Dec, 1888) p. 479; Mellen Chamberlain in the Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, 2nd series, vol. 1, p. 273 (also published separately); C. L. Davis in Potter's American Monthly, vol. 5 (Dec, 1875) p. 911; T. W. Higginson in Scribner's Magazine, vol. 12 (July, 1876) p. 289; N. H. Morris in Potter, vol. 5 (Sept., 1875) p. 648; Niles's Register, vol. 30 (July 15 and Aug. 5, 1826) pp. 345, 393. An article on Where the Declaration of Independence was written, is in Potter, vol. 6 (May, 1876) p. 341.

    --Extract from History of the Inception and Drafting of the Declaration of Independence. (Emmet Collection. Presented to the New York Public Library by John S. Kennedy.) Emmet (Thomas Addis). With a collection of autographs of the signers, and other documents. New York, 1876. Noted in Bulletin of the New York Public Library, Volume 1. Report (New York Public Library), 1897, pp. 351-352.

    Declarations of Independence: Early Uses

  • Untitled. Virginia Gazette, n. 63. Williamsburg, Virginia, April 12, 1776, p. [1].
  • Untitled. Connecticut Gazette, v. XIII, n. 648. New London, Connecticut, April 12, 1776, p. [1].
  • Mr. Humphreys, Please Give the following a Place in Your next Paper. Pennsylvania Ledger, n. LXVI. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 27, 1776, p. [2].
  • To the People of Pennsylvania. Letter Iv. Alas Poor Cato. New-York Gazette, and Weekly Mercury, n. 1278. New York, New York, April 8, 1776, page [1].
  • Declaration of Independence. Essex Register, v. 19, n. 45. Salem, Massachusetts, June 5, 1819. From the Raleigh Register. "It is not probably known to many of our readers, that the citizens of Mecklenburg county, to this state, made a declaration of independence more than a year before Congress made theirs. The following document of the subject has lately come to the hands of the editor from unquestionable authority, and is published that it may go down to posterity. N. Carolina, Mecklenburg county, May 20, 1775.
  • John Adams. To Thomas Jefferson. Quincy, 22 June, 1819.
    May I inclose you one of the greatest curiosities and one of the deepest mysteries that ever occurred to me? It is in the Essex Register of June 5th, 1819. It is entitled the Raleigh Register Declaration of Independence. How is it possible that this paper should have been concealed from me to this day? Had it been communicated to me in the time of it, I know, if you do not know, that it would have been printed in every whig newspaper upon this continent. You know, that if I had possessed it, I would have made the hall of Congress echo and reecho with it fifteen months before your Declaration of Independence. What a poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass is Tom Paine's "Common Sense," in comparison with this paper! Had I known it, I would have commented upon it, from the day you entered Congress till the fourth of July, 1776. The genuine sense of America at that moment was never so well expressed before, nor since. Richard Caswell, William Hooper, and Joseph Hewes, the then representatives of North Carolina in Congress, you knew as well as I, and you know that the unanimity of the States finally depended on the vote of Joseph Hewes, and was finally determined by him. And yet history is to ascribe the American Revolution to Thomas Paine! Sat verbum sapienti.1
    [1] Mr. Jefferson's answer is printed in Mr. Randolph's collection, vol. iv. p. 314. He called the Mecklenburg paper "a very unjustifiable quiz."
  • To John Adams. Monticello, July 9, 1819.
    Dear Sir, -I am in debt to you for your letters of May the 21st, 27th, and June the 22d. The first, delivered me by Mr. Greenwood, gave me the gratification of his acquaintance; and a gratification it always is, to be made acquainted with gentlemen of candor, worth, and information, as I found Mr. Greenwood to be. That, on the subject of Mr. Samuel Adams Wells, shall not be forgotten in time and place, when it can be used to his advantage.
    But what has attracted my peculiar notice, is the paper from Mecklenburg county, of North Carolina, published in the Essex Register, which you were so kind as to enclose in your last, of June the 22d. And you seem to think it genuine. I believe it spurious. I deem it to be a very unjustifiable quiz, like that of the volcano, so minutely related to us as having broken out in North Carolina, some half a dozen years ago, in that part of the country, and perhaps in that very county of Mecklenburg, for I do not remember its precise locality. If this paper be really taken from the Raleigh Register, as quoted, I wonder it should have escaped Ritchie, who culls what is good from every paper, as the bee from every flower; and the National Intelligencer, too, which is edited by a North Carolinian; and that the fire should blaze out all at once in Essex, one thousand miles from where the spark is said to have fallen. But if really taken from the Raleigh Register, who is the narrator, and is the name subscribed real, or is it as fictitious as the paper itself? It appeals, too, to an original book, which is burnt, to Mr. Alexander, who is dead, to a joint letter from Caswell, Hughes, and Hooper, all dead, to a copy sent to the dead Caswell, and another sent to Doctor Williamson, now probably dead, whose memory did not recollect, in the history he has written of North Carolina, this gigantic step of its county of Mecklenburg. Horry, too, is silent in his history of Marion, whose scene of action was the country bordering on Mecklenburg. Ramsay, Marshall, Jones, Girardin, Wirt, historians of the adjacent States, all silent. When Mr. Henry's resolutions, far short of independence, flew like lightning through every paper, and kindled both sides of the Atlantic, this flaming declaration of the same date, of the independence of Mecklenburg county, of North Carolina, absolving it from the British allegiance, and abjuring all political connection with that nation, although sent to Congress too, is never heard of. It is not known even a twelvemonth after, when a similar proposition is first made in that body. Armed with this bold example, would not you have addressed our timid brethren in peals of thunder on their tardy fears? Would not every advocate of independence have rung the glories of Mecklenburg county in North Carolina, in the ears of the doubting Dickinson and others, who hung so heavily on us? Yet the example of independent Mecklenburg county, in North Carolina, was never once quoted. The paper speaks, too, of the continued exertions of their delegation (Caswell, Hooper, Hughes) "in the cause of liberty and independence." Now you remember as well as I do, that we had not a greater tory in Congress than Hooper; that Hughes was very wavering, sometimes firm, sometimes feeble, according as the day was clear or cloudy; that Caswell, indeed, was a good whig, and kept these gentlemen to the notch, while he was present; but that he left us soon, and their line of conduct became then uncertain until Penn came, who fixed Hughes and the vote of the State. I must not be understood as suggesting any doubtfulness in the State of North Carolina. No State was more fixed or forward. Nor do I affirm, positively, that this paper is a fabrication; because the proof of a negative can only be presumptive. But I shall believe it such until positive and solemn proof of its authenticity be produced. And if the name of McKnitt be real, and not a part of the fabrication, it needs a vindication by the production of such proof. For the present, I must be an unbeliever in the apocryphal gospel.
  • The Puzzle of 'The Declaration'; Originality of the Famous Document Assailed by a Defender of the Mecklenburg Resolutions. The New York Times, July 25, 1908.
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