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Edward Rutledge - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2020

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Birth: November 23, 1749
Death: January 23, 1800 (age 50)
Colony: South Carolina
Occupation: Lawyer, Soldier, Politician
Significance: Signed The Declaration of Independence (at the age of 26); and served as Governor of South Carolina (1798-1800)

Edward Rutledge

Edward Rutledge was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Rutledge traveled to England for his education and studied law at Middle Temple. Rutledge then returned to Charleston where he began a law practice with fellow founding father Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

In 1774, at the age of just 24, Rutledge was selected to be one of South Carolina's representatives to the First Continental Congress. The following year, Rutledge was re-appointed and served in the Second Continental Congress. Rutledge voted for Independence, and he signed The Declaration of Independence. At just 26, Rutledge was the youngest signer of The Declaration of Independence.

After signing The Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776, Rutledge returned to South Carolina where he was elected to South Carolina's House of Representatives. Rutledge also served in the South Carolina Militia, and he was captured during the Siege of Charleston in 1780. After over a year as a prisoner of war, Rutledge was released during a prisoner exchange in 1781.

After the Revolutionary War, Rutledge continued to serve in South Carolina's government, first as a congressman and then as a senator. In 1798, Rutledge was elected Governor of South Carolina and held that role until his death two years later in 1800 at the age of 50.

Edward Rutledge in Philadelphia

Rutledge first came to Philadelphia in 1774 as a Delegate to the First Continental Congress, which met at Carpenters' Hall. Rutledge returned the following year in 1775 as a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress. While serving as a member of the Second Continental Congress, Rutledge worked at Independence Hall, and he signed The Declaration of Independence.

A plaque commemorating Rutledge for signing The Declaration of Independence can be found on Signers' Walk on the 600 block of Chestnut Street (between 5th and 6th Street). Signers' Garden pays tribute to the Founding Fathers, including those such as Rutledge who signed The Declaration of Independence. Today, Carpenter's Hall, Independence Hall, Signers' Walk and Signers' Garden are all stops visited along The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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