We couldn’t let February slip away without taking note of the birth dates of two signers of the Declaration of Independence who will be on display at Independence Hall: Home of the Founding Fathers when the site opens later this year at 9815 S. Highway 16 south of Rapid City.
Abraham Clark and John Witherspoon were a couple of New Jersey guys who came from very different backgrounds and very different professions, but they found themselves making history together when they became two of the 56 signers of what is arguably America’s most famous document.
Clark was a 50-year-old surveyor and lawyer and Witherspoon was a 53-year-old Presbyterian clergyman when they both represented the colony of New Jersey in the continental congress that declared independence from England. Ironically, both were the sons of farmers, but Clark was born in New Jersey on Feb. 15, 1726, and Witherspoon was born in Scotland on Feb.5, 1723. Witherspoon, one of just two ministers to sign the Declaration, emigrated from Scotland to America when he was recruited to become the president of a small college that would, eventually, become today’s Princeton University.
And another thing the two men share: Both had sons who fought bravely in the Revolutionary War. Clark had two of his sons captured and imprisoned by the British. Witherspoon’s son died in the Battle of Germantown. If you want to know more about Abraham Clark or the Rev. John Witherspoon, come visit us at Founding Fathers Black Hills this summer, or look for their biographies on the history link of this website.