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Matthew Thornton - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

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Birth: 1714 (exact date unknown)
Death: June 24, 1803 (at the age of approximately 89)
Colony: New Hampshire
Occupation: Medical Doctor, Soldier, Politician, Judge
Significance: Signed The Declaration of Independence (at the age of approximately 62)

Matthew Thornton

Matthew Thornton was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Thornton was one of only eight immigrants to sign The Declaration of Independence. Originally born in Londonderry, Ireland, his family emigrated to the American Colonies when he was a young child, and they settled in Massachusetts. Thornton studied to be a medical doctor and opened his practice in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Thornton became a surgeon for the New Hampshire Militia where he rose to the rank of Colonel.  

In 1775, Thornton became President of the New Hampshire Provincial Congress and helped New Hampshire become the first state to set up a new government after the start of the Revolutionary War and the dissolution of Colonial government. Thornton was named to the Second Continental Congress in November of 1776, months after the vote for Independence and the subsequent signing of The Declaration of Independence. Nonetheless, Thornton was still allowed to sign The Declaration of Independence in November of 1776. After signing The Declaration of Independence, Thornton spent only a few months in the Second Continental Congress.

Upon leaving the Second Continental Congress, Thornton returned to New Hampshire and resumed practicing medicine. Thornton also served as judge for the New Hampshire Superior Court during this time before he died in 1803. 

Matthew Thornton in Philadelphia

Thornton arrived in Philadelphia as a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress. While serving as a member of the Second Continental Congress, Thornton worked at Independence Hall, and he signed The Declaration of Independence. A plaque commemorating Thornton for signing The Declaration of Independence can be found on Signers' Walk on the 600 block of Chestnut Street (between 5th and 6th Streets). 


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