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James Smith - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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James Smith

Birth: September 17, 1719
Death: July 11, 1806 (Age 87)
Colony: Pennsylvania
Occupation: Lawyer
Significance: Signed The Declaration of Independence (at the age of 56)

James Smith engraving by Ole Erekson in 1876

James Smith was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.  Smith was one of only eight immigrants to sign The Declaration of Independence.  Originally born in Ulster, Ireland, Smith's and his family immigrated to America when he was just 10 years old. Smith and his family moved to Chester County, roughly 50 miles outside of Philadelphia. Smith would eventually move to Philadelphia to study at the Philadelphia Academy (which would eventually become the University of Pennsylvania, also known as Penn today, and which is part of the prestigious Ivy League).  After graduating and becoming a lawyer, Smith would move to York, PA to practice law.  Smith was eventually appointed to the Second Continental Congress and signed The Declaration of Independence.

James Smith in Philadelphia

James Smith first lived in Philadelphia as a young man when he attended the University of Pennsylvania. Then known as the Philadelphia Academy, the school was located at the corner of 4th and Arch Streets at the time.  Today a plaque commemorates the original location of the University of Pennsylvania on the side of the Wyndham Hotel that is currently located there.  Smith would later live in Philadelphia while a member of the Continental Congress, during this time Smith would work at Independence Hall, and he would eventually sign The Declaration of Independence.  A plaque commemorating Smith can also be found on Signer's Walk on the 600 block of Chestnut Street. Independence Hall, Signer's Walk, and the plaque commemorating the University of Pennsylvania are all visited on The Constitutional Walking Tour!


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