Men of Destiny:
Signers of Our Declaration of Independence and Our Constitution
Authored by Robert W. Pelton
When the Constitutional Convention assembled in Philadelphia in 1787, William Jackson (1759-1828), applied for the position as its secretary. The friendships he’d made with many of the delegates during the Revolutionary War (especially Alexander Hamilton), helped this gifted writer and orator edge out Benjamin Franklin's grandson for the position. He was thereby able to utilize his considerable organizational talents in the service of the new republic. Jackson was sworn to protect the secrecy of the deliberations. After the final draft of the Constitution was signed, he destroyed all records except for the official journal. Jackson was given orders to do this by the delegates.
John Jay showed promise of an extraordinary life at a very young age indeed. John Jay was the second youngest member, at age 28.
Samuel Chase was selected in 1774 to represent Maryland at the Continental Congress. In 1796 he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States by George Washington
Both George Mason and Elbridge Gerry played most influential roles at the Constitutional Convention. Each man’s attendance record was nearly perfect. Although Gerry had signed the Declaration of Independence, he, as did Mason, refused to sign the Constitution. Why? Because both objected to the fact that it contained no Bill of Rights.
For Mason, the last straw came on September 12, 1787, when his proposal to include a Bill of Rights in the new Constitution was defeated 10 states to none. He offered to rewrite the material. Not even this turned out to be enough to sway the delegates who were impatient who were more interested in finishing the task at hand and then getting back home. Mason adamantly declared that he could not support the final version.
A few of Robert Livingston’s most often forgotten claims to fame?
One is the fact that it was he who administered the Presidential Oath of Office to George Washington.
He was also the man who successfully negotiated the Louisiana Purchase from the French.
And lastly, he was a sponsor of Robert Fulton, who man who refined the steam engine.
President Washington appointed him Secretary of State in 1795, but Henry declined the office.
In 1799, President Adams appointed him envoy to France, but failing health required him to decline this office as well.
Yes, Patrick Henry Also Declined to Serve
Patrick Henry represented Virginia in the First Continental Congress in 1774 where he continued in the role of firebrand. At the outbreak of the Revolution, he returned to his native state and lead militia in defense of Virginia's store of gunpowder. He wasn’t a member of the Continental Congress when the Declaration of Independence was voted on and accepted in 1776. Although a man of high reputation as a patriot in the colonies, he hadn’t been elected to be a delegate.
His personality was decidedly different when compared to the stern honor of Washington, the refined logic of Jefferson, and the well-tempered industry of Franklin. He was a kid that no one thought would amount to anything. He appeared to have little ambition and was a notorious time waster, though everyone knew he was sharp minded.
Henry showed no interest in schooling as a youngster and didn’t want to farm. Apparently, pressure from his young family (he had married at the age of eighteen) caused him to study for a few weeks and to take the bar exam. He easily passed, and begin to work as a lawyer. Here are a number of important bits of trivia about Patrick Henry:
Henry's reputation as a passionate and fiery orator exceeded even that of Samuel Adams.
Why Did Washington Not Sign the Declaration?
George Washington was not in attendance at the Continental Congress when the Declaration was signed. He was at the time Commander-in Chief of the Continental Army and serving in this capacity.
5.5" x 8.5" (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
Black & White on White paper
ISBN-13: 978-1466361058 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
BISAC: History / United States / Colonial Period