Founding Fathers Black Hills

Floyd trumps Williams at Independence Hall


In last week’s battle of the Bills, William Floyd of New York defeated William Williams to wear the weekly Founding Fathers crown here at Independence Hall.
This week found the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence, Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, facing Benjamin Rush, the signer who was instrumental in forging a reconciliation between two of his good friends: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Rutledge was just 26 when he signed the Declaration of Independence. Originally a staunch reconciliationist, Rutledge eventually embraced the idea of independence as inevitable and brought the entire South Carolina delegation along with him during the vote for independence on July 2, 1776. He was among the three South Carolina signers who were imprisoned during the Revolutionary War during the siege of Charleston in 1780. Rutledge was imprisoned for 11 months on a British prison ship off the coast of St. Augustine, Fla.
Benjamin Rush was one of four physicians to sign the Declaration of Independence. Unofficially, he became the new nation’s first surgeon general when he was appointed as the Continental Army’s chief doctor. He went on to write one of the first important medical textbooks used in America. He was also a progressive, liberal social activist very much ahead of his time. Rush advocated for universal suffrage for women and others, the abolition of slavery and free medical care for the poor. Sadly, Rush died of typhus at age 67 after contracting the disease from patients he was caring for during an epidemic in 1813.
Benjamin Rush 3
Before his own demise, he persuaded both Jefferson and Adams, who had become estranged following their acrimonious presidential election of 1800, to resume their friendship and correspondence. The two former friends, both ex-presidents and signers of the Declaration of Independence, took his advice and began writing hundreds of letters to each other in their later years that serve as some of America’s most important historical records.
So if early American political history is as important to you as it was to Benjamin Rush, stop by Founding Fathers Black Hills at Independence Hall and learn more about Rutledge, Rush and the rest of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. It’s a great addition to your Black Hills vacation and one of the most interesting things to do in Rapid City.