Thursday, February 4, 2016

Signers: The Declaration Committee

On June 11, 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed a committee of five individuals to draft and submit to the Congress for its approval.

The five individuals were:
  • John Adams - firebrand member of the Congress, chief advocate for independence, representative from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Adams had made a name for himself prior to joining the Congress as an attorney in Massachusetts.  He would, of course go on to serve as the 2nd President of the United States.  Upon his death on July 4, 1826, he outlived by a few hours, his successor as President, 
  • Thomas Jefferson - The epitome of the American Renaissance man, Jefferson was the primary scribe of the Declaration of Independence, serving as a delegate from Virginia.  After losing to John Adams in 1796, Jefferson won the presidency in 1800, going on to serve two terms as the 3rd President of the United States.
  • Benjamin Franklin - the elder statesman of the Congress, representing Pennsylvania, brought gravitas to the Committee of Five.  After the establishment of the United States, Franklin served as the country's first Postmaster.
  • Robert Livingston - from New York, served on the Committee of Five, but was recalled by New York before he could sign the Declaration.  Livingston went on to serve as the nation's first Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the forerunner of Secretary of State.  It was Livingston that administered the Oath of Office to George Washington, inaugurating him as the first President.
  • Roger Sherman - was one of the most active members of the Continental Congress, serving on many committees, including the Committee of Five.  He was also very active outside his congressional duties and was later very involved in the Constitutional Convention.  At the time of his death in 1793, Sherman was serving as one of Connecticut's first Senators.

Meet the President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock, of Massachusetts.  No signature on the Declaration of Independence is more prominent than Hancock's.  Hancock was the first to sign the document and opted to sign large enough, "so King George can see that without his glasses" though it is more likely that since he was first, he had an entirely blank space in which to sign.

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