Showing posts from November, 2023

Founding Fathers - Matthew Thornton

Matthew Thornton Born: March 3, 1714 (Ireland) Died: June 24, 1803 (Newburyport, Massachusetts) I hope everyone who reads this had a tremendous Thanksgiving with your loved ones (at least those in the USA who celebrated it this past week), and that those of you from elsewhere are joining in as we begin to prepare for Christmas.  The focus of this week's study was a member of both of those two geographic groups, coincidentally, as he was one of eight individuals born overseas to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Matthew Thornton was born in northern Ireland, possibly on March 3, 1714, although that date is debated.  His family lived near the town of Derry, although other towns in the counties of Londonderry and Antrim have also been suggested as young Matthew's birthplace.  His parents were James and Elizabeth Thornton, and in 1817 they emigrated to the colony of Massachusetts.  They settled in the town of Wicasset, which is in the modern state of Maine, where they stayed u

Founding Fathers - Elbridge Gerry

Elbridge Gerry Born: July 17, 1744 (Marblehead, Massachusetts) Died: November 23, 1814 (Washington, District of Columbia) This week we will get to know a man who may well be best known for a common term that was coined as a derogatory play on his name.  As the third child of Captain Thomas Gerry and his wife, Elizabeth, Elbridge Gerry was born along the coast just north of Boston.  Little is definitively known about his upbringing, but he was a capable student who graduated from Harvard in 1762, then again with a Master's degree at just 20 years of age.  Harvard was a hotbed of Whig ideology at the time, a viewpoint marked by distrust of centralized authority that was central to the spirit of the American Revolution, and the influence it had on young Elbridge is evidenced by the fact that his Master's dissertation focused on opposition to the recently-passed Stamp Act.  Once his formal schooling was completed Elbridge joined his father's shipping and mercantile business, an

Founding Fathers - William Floyd

William Floyd Born: December 17, 1734 (Brookhaven, New York) Died: August 4, 1821 (Westernville, New York) This week we'll look into the life of our sixth and final William appearing on the Declaration of Independence.  Born in what is today known as the town of Mastic on Long Island to Nicoll and Tabitha Floyd, William Floyd was the second of nine children raised on their sprawling 4,400 acre estate.  Well on his way to receiving the best education available at the time, his plans were interrupted late in his teenage years upon the death of his father, followed by his mother just months later.  As the oldest son, William had to assume responsibility for running both his family and their farm.  When he turned 21 in 1755 he inherited the property, and from all accounts he was a practical and profitable steward.  In addition to farming, he also utilized his proximity to the water to engage in shipping, have access to fish and oysters, and attract wealthy friends who might be seeking

Founding Fathers - John Penn

John Penn Born: May 17, 1741 (Port Royal, Virginia) Died: September 14, 1788 (Stovall, North Carolina) The Penn name is typically associated with the family that founded and dominated Pennsylvania's early history, but this week we'll look into the story of someone else who has been overshadowed.  John Penn began his life in simple surroundings, the only son of moderately wealthy parents named Moses and Catherine Penn.  Moses was a farmer who did not see the need in being educated in order to become successful, and therefore young John only received two years of schooling as a child.  At the age of 18, however, John lost his father and was taken in by an uncle named Edmund Pendleton, an attorney whose friends included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams.  In Pendleton's library John found a wealth of legal education and by 1762 he was admitted to the bar and licensed to practice law.  The following year he married Susannah Lyne at the age of 22, and the coupl