Signers of the U.S. Constitution.  How Many Can You Name? 


On July 4th  2009, I was delivering delayed luggage out of Logan Airport.  While waiting for the last flight to arrive, I decided to ask my colleagues how many signers of the Declaration of Independence they could name.  I gave them a monetary incentive of $20.  My past experiences with asking this question convinced me that my money was safe.  I was right.  The most I got from any co-worker was three.   My firsthand experiences over the years show that my suitcase colleagues are on par with most Americans.  However, I recently shared my suitcase story with a group of 5th graders from the Lion Heart Classical Academy in Peterborough who were attending the 1st annual Patriot Youth Program hosted by the New Hampshire Daughters of the American Revolution at the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge, NH.   I asked the fifth graders the same question, and one young man  said “John Adams, Sam Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Frankin, and John Hancock.”  He then asked  me for $20  I told him I only had two dollars in my pocket but offered  him a week at our annual family camp worth $300.  His dad was in hand and said that he would take us up on the offer.  Meanwhile, retired Army Colonel  Otto Busher, who was part of the program, handed the boy $20.  

 Does it matter if the average American can’t name five signers of the Declaration of Independence?   With the exception of the Cultural Marxists and those they have convinced to hate American and its incredible history, most Americans love to celebrate Independence Day.  Yes, even in Boston where tens of thousands of people of all races come out to the Esplanade and listen to Patriotic music performed by the Boston Pops, wave Old Glory, and watch the fireworks.   So, yes, Americans should know a little about the day they are celebrating and the brave men who made that day and our nation possible.

There were fifty-six men that signed the Declaration of Independence.    They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor,    Not one defected.  Not one “matured politically.”     While there is some dispute, it is widely believed that John Hancock was the only delegate to sign the Declaration of July 4th.  It wasn’t until August 2 that the majority of the delegates signed the Declaration.   New Hampshire’s Dr. Matthew Thornton   was one of the last signing it on November 4th, 1776.  While I won’t give a biography of all 56, I will give a short bio of our state’s signers and recommend the book Lives of Signers of the Declaration of Independence originally published in 1850 and reprinted by Wall Builders:

New Hampshire had three signers:  Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple and    Matthew Thornton.

(Dr. Josiah Bartlett)


Josiah Bartlett was born in Amesbury, MA on November 29, 1729.  He became a doctor at the age of 21 and moved to Kingston, NH.  He and his wife Mary had 12 children.  He was elected to the office of justice of the peace but in 1774, the governor, appointed by the King, had him removed from the position due to his involvement with the Committee of Correspondence.  In 1775, Bartlett became a colonel in the New Hampshire Militia, and became a member of the 2nd Continental Congress that same year. He voted for independence on July 4th, being the first delegate to do so.  He signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2 and may have been the 2nd one after John Hancock.  During the war, he served as a physician treating wounded soldiers. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention, and as a supporter of the new Constitution, he serves as a delegate to New Hampshire’s Ratification Convention.   He became the 1st governor of New Hampshire in 1793.  He passed away in 1795, and is buried in the Plains Cemetery in Kingstown, NH

William Whipple

Born in Kittery, Maine 1730 which was part of Massachusetts at the time, he became a ship captain.  He became a delegate to the 2nd Continental Congress  and signed of the Declaration of Independence.  He served as a brigadier general in the New Hampshire. Militia. He led his soldiers in the Battle of Saratoga.  He freed his slave Prince who served with him during the war.  Prince was depicted in the painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze, but it was historically inaccurate since he was not involved with the crossing.  After the war, he became a New Hampshire  judge on the state’s supreme court.  He died in November of 1785 and is buried in North Cemetery Portsmouth, NH.

(Prince Whipple)


Matthew Thornton


Born in Ireland on 1714, he came to America when he was four.  He and his family settled in Worcester, MA, and he, like Josiah Thornton, became a doctor. He settled in Londonderry, NH.  He and his wife Hannah had five children. In 1745,  he served a surgeon in the Battle of Louisburg in Nova Scotia.  He became a member of New Hampshire’s colonial legislature and in 1775, he became president of New Hampshire’s provincial congress.  He became a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and while he wasn’t present on July 4, he signed the Declaration on November 4, 1776, being one of the  last to do so.  Like Josiah Bartlett, he became an associate justice on the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Late in life, he published Paradise Lost, or the Origin of the Evil called Sin.  He died in 1803 while visiting his daughter in Newburyport, MA.  He is buried in Thornton Cemetery, Merrimack, New Hampshire.

One of my favorite Founding Father’s was John Adams who was the main driving force behind the Declaration of Independence, prior to the vote for independence, he made this speech:

Sink or Swim, Live or Die, Survive or Perish, I give my heart and my hand to this vote. It is true indeed that in the beginning we did not aim for Independence, but there is a Divinity that shapes our ends. Why then should we defer the declaration? You and I indeed may rue it. We may not live to see the time when this declaration shall be made good. We may die; die Colonists or die Slaves. Be it so, be it so. If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready. But while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a free country.

But whatever may be our fate, be assured that this declaration will stand. It may cost treasure and it may cost blood, but it will stand and richly compensate for both. Through the gloom of the present, I see the brightness of the future, like the sun in heaven. We shall make this a glorious and immortal day. When we are in our graves our children will honor it. They will celebrate it with thanksgiving and festivities, with bonfires and illuminations.

Before God I believe that the hour has come. My judgment approves this measure and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, all that I am, and all that I hope in this life I am now ready to stake on it and leave off as I began. Live or die, survive, or perish, I am for this declaration. It is my living sentiment and by the blessing of God it will be my dying sentiment. Independence now, Independence forever.

May the readers of this blog  have a Happy Independence Day.  Readers who would like a free pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution containing   the Declaration of Independence may send me an E-mail


P.S.  Question:  What other countries have a July 4th? Answer:  They all do.