The Signers of Massachusetts: Restorers or Revolutionaries?

By Dominic MacAulay
American Club Youth Commentaries

Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, five came from Massachusetts. Their names were John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Elbridge Gerry, and Robert Treat Paine.

John Adams, like many signers, began his career as a lawyer. He married Abigail Smith with whom he had 5 children, 4 of which ended up dying before him. At the Second Continental Congress, John Adams helped draft Declaration of Independence. When there was official war between the colonies and Britain, John Adams sailed to France, then to Holland, and then to England as an ambassador. He almost died while being an ambassador. John Adams then became the second President of the United States of America. He also was the last surviving founder and died on our nation’s fiftieth birthday, July Fourth. This great man once said, “The Christian religion is (a) religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity.”

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Samuel Adams once said, “I (rely) upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.” Sam first began his life as a tax collector. Then he decided to get more political and became a political leader. He married Elizabeth Checkley with whom he had 6 children. Sadly two of his children didn’t make it to adulthood and Elizabeth died 7 years after she married Sam. Sam began the committee of correspondence, which was a secret mail-dispatching unit that carried messages for the patriots. He also formed the Sons of Liberty, which were famous for the Boston Tea Party. Although Sam was an important man, he was a poor man and would have starved along with his children had it not been for his good friend John Hancock.

Unlike Sam Adams, John Hancock was political from the start. He was born to a very wealthy family and became the richest man in America. When John was about seven, his father died, and he ended up moving to his uncle’s estate. When he grew up, he became a ship merchant and married Dorothy Quincy. As a ship owner he was forced to pay the outrageous taxes assigned by the British, and like all of the colonists, John Hancock hated these taxes. To show this, he locked a tax collector in his ship when the collector came to demand taxes. John was locked in jail for a short while because he did this. He was a member of the Sons of Liberty as well. When the war started, John Hancock formed the Massachusetts Minuteman. He also used his riches to buy supplies for George Washington. After being the first one to sign his giant signature on the Declaration of Independence, John said, “There! Now the people of England can read my name without spectacles and double their reward on my head!” After the war, John Hancock became the president of the new Massachusetts Government. John Hancock was definitely a great signer, who was quoted as saying, “all nations must bow to the scepter of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Elbridge Gerry was born into one of the wealthiest families of the time. He, like John Hancock, became a merchant and married Anne Thompson, who was 20 years younger than him, and with her, he had ten children. During the war, Elbridge was in charge of securing the very low ammunition stores. Without ammunition, you can’t fight a war. So he held a pretty important position. In his late years, Elbridge occupied the positions of the House of Representatives, the Governor of Massachusetts, and the Vice President. Elbridge Gerry once said, “…Let us contemplate (the fact) that we (can) enjoy the first of Heaven’s blessings: Jesus Christ.”

Robert Treat Paine was the last signer from Massachusetts. He was also many other things. He was a teacher, lawyer, attorney general, legislature man, and a judge. Although he was a signer, he was not perfect, for when he was younger he made many immoral decisions. When Robert grew up his conduct improved and he later signed the Declaration of Independence. During his last years, he went deaf and could not serve as a judge. Robert Treat Paine was a great man and once said, “I believe the Bible to be the written word of God and to contain in it the whole rule of faith and…will of God…”

These five signers were great men because they had faith in God. We honor them because they fulfilled their duty to “The King of Kings” and to their country, The United States of America.

This is Dominic MacAulay with the Institute on the Constitution bringing you the American View.

Learn more about your Constitution with Dominic MacAulay and the “Institute on the Constitution” and receive your free gift.

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