Founding Fathers Black Hills

Charles Thomson

Pennsylvania

Secretary of Congress *

Charles Thomson was born in Ireland and emigrated to America as a 10-year-old boy with his father and brothers. His father died during the sea voyage and when the sons landed in America, young Charles was raised by a Delaware blacksmith.

He was educated in the classics at a Pennsylvania academy and Thomson worked as a Latin tutor and teacher before he got involved in Philadelphia politics. He was well-known throughout the colonies as an organizer of trade boycotts and other anti-British protests.

Thomson was appointed secretary at the first meeting of the continental congress in 1774 and he served in that role for 15 years, until the U.S. Constitution created the House of Representatives and the Senate. Sometimes criticized for his accuracy, Thomson’s congressional record even led to some brawls on the floor of congress.

As secretary, Thomson’s name appears, along with the name of congressional president John Hancock, as the only two signatures on the first published copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Dunlap broadside, that was widely circulated in the colonies. Thomsen did not, however, sign the engrossed parchment copy signed by all delegates on Aug.2, 1776, which is considered the official historic document.

* Non-signer