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Carter Braxton - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Sunday, January 12, 2020

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Birth: September 10, 1736
Death: October 10, 1797 (age 61)
Colony: Virginia
Occupation: Plantation Owner, Merchant, Politician
Significance: Signed The Declaration of Independence (at the age of 39)

Carter Braxton

Carter Braxton was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in Virginia to a very prominent family, the Braxton family was arguably the wealthiest family in Virginia at the time of his birth. Additionally, both Braxton's father and grandfather were prominent political figures in Colonial Virginia. After being educated at the College of William and Mary, Braxton helped to manage the family plantation and started a mercantile enterprise. In 1761, Braxton, following the path of his father and grandfather, was chosen to represent his county in the Virginia House of Burgesses. 

As tensions mounted between Great Britain and the American Colonies, Braxton was a moderate voice in Virginia as he protested British overreach while also cautioning against military conflict with Great Britain. When Peyton Randolph died in October of 1775, Braxton was chosen to take his place within the Second Continental Congress. While a member of the Second Continental Congress, Braxton continued to speak out against Independence and opposed the July 2, 1776 vote for Independence. Despite Braxton's pleadings for moderation, the Virginia delegation voted for Independence. Although Braxton maintained his opposition to declaring independence, Braxton did not wish to portray Virginia as divided, and to that end, he also signed The Declaration of Independence.

After signing The Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776, Braxton returned to Virginia where he again served in the Virginia House of Burgesses throughout the Revolutionary War. Even though he thought the War was premature, Braxton also used his considerable wealth to become one of the leading financiers of the American Revolution. However, Braxton, as well as other primary financiers of the American Revolution such as Robert Morris did not turn out well. Braxton's financial backing of the Revolution and a series of poor investments wiped out Braxton's fortune, and Braxton died in debt in 1797 at the age of 61.

Carter Braxton in Philadelphia

Braxton arrived in Philadelphia as a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress in 1775. During this time, Braxton worked at Independence Hall, and he signed The Declaration of Independence. A plaque commemorating Braxton for signing The Declaration of Independence can be found on Signers' Walk on the 600 block of Chestnut Street (between 5th and 6th Streets). Signers' Garden pays tribute to the Founding Fathers, including those such as Braxton, who signed The Declaration of Independence. Signer's Walk, Signers' Garden, and Independence Hall are all visited on The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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