Special Report

The 56 People Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

John Adams (1735-1826)
> State: Massachusetts

One of the most revered of the Founding Fathers, the man who was to become the first vice president and the second president of the United States (and father of the nation’s sixth president, John Quincy Adams) was a noted attorney, an active member of the Continental Congress, and an outspoken opponent of slavery. In 1783, he helped develop, and signed, the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War.

Source: britishlibrary / Flickr

Samuel Adams (1722-1803)
> State: Massachusetts

A cousin of John Adams, Samuel Adams has been described as “an excellent politician, an unsuccessful brewer, and a poor businessman.” (Despite his apparent lack of brewing success, the Boston Beer Company’s popular Samuel Adams brand is named after him.) A leading advocate for independence and a close friend of writer and intellectual Tom Paine, Adams was known as an eloquent orator.

Source: Courtesy of NYPL via Wikimedia Commons

Josiah Bartlett (1729-1795)
> State: New Hampshire

Massachusetts-born Bartlett studied medicine and set up a practice as a doctor in Kingston, New Hampshire. Elected to represent the New Hampshire Colony at the Continental Congress, he was the second person to sign the Declaration of Independence, after John Hancock. He later became governor of the new state of New Hampshire.

Source: internetarchivebookimages / Flickr

Carter Braxton (1736-1797)
> State: Virginia

Coming from a wealthy plantation family, Braxton became a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, the first democratically elected legislative body in British North America, before being named to the Virginia delegation to the Continental Congress. He subsequently served in the U.S. Congress. Braxton, who is known to have had as many as 18 children, made poor financial decisions after serving in Congress and died penniless.


Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832)
> State: Maryland

Carroll was born into a wealthy Annapolis family, and shipped off to be educated in France at the age of 8. He returned to America 20 years later, after subsequent studies in London, and promptly became active in the patriot cause. He held numerous offices in Maryland, both before and after independence, and helped frame the Maryland constitution. He signed the Declaration of Independence as “Charles Carroll of Carrollton,” a form of his name that he used to distinguish himself from a number of other Maryland Charles Carrolls. He was the last survivor of the signers, dying at the age of 95.