Who signed the Declaration of Independence?

By Nicky M. | Arcadia Staff
On July 4, 1776, 56 men gathered in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These colonists, formerly of the British Empire, had come together to change the course of their community’s history by signing the Declaration of Independence. A document that united the thirteen American British colonies, the Declaration informed the Crown that the colonists would no longer answer to the British government. But who were these men, and where did they come from? As this year’s Fourth of July approaches, read on to learn about just a few of the men who helped create our country!

Benjamin Rush.1) Benjamin Rush

A physician, politician, and teacher, Benjamin Rush was a well-known member of Philadelphia long before he was sent to sign the Declaration of Independence. A driving force of the Enlightenment, Rush believed that the Revolution was a righteous cause, and was very active within the Continental Congress. After signing the Declaration, Rush served as the surgeon-general for a section of the Continental Army during the Revolution. After the war, he returned to civilian life and began teaching medicine in Philadelphia.


2) Benjamin Franklin

One of the most well-known of the signers, Benjamin Franklin was a true renaissance man, dabbling in science, politics, writing, and even working as a diplomat. Although perhaps most well-known for his discoveries related to electricity, Franklin was also an avid inventor, and his inventions included the first bifocal glasses, the Franklin stove, and swim fins. After the signing of the Declaration, Franklin served as an ambassador for the nation to France, helping the colonists’ cause during the Revolution, and to improve the relations between the two nations afterwards.

Philip Livingston.3) Philip Livingston

A merchant, Philip Livingston represented New York at the First and Second Continental Congress, and as a signer of the Declaration. Born in Albany, Livingston attended Yale College, and later joined as a delegate to the Albany Congress. During the First Continental Congress, Livingston voted to impose sanctions on Britain, in the hopes that it would persuade the Crown to repeal the Intolerable Acts. While he was not at first in favor of a full revolution, he soon joined the cause after several other measures to improve relations were unsuccessful.


4) John Hancock

Today, it’s not uncommon for someone to ask you to leave your “John Hancock,” or signature. But Hancock was a much larger part of the Declaration than just a signature – the president of the Second Continental Congress, Hancock also served as the governor of Massachusetts. He began his career in politics under the tutelage of Samuel Adams, and by the time of the Revolution had become one of the wealthiest men in the country. After the signing of the Declaration, Hancock joined the House of Representatives, and later signed the Articles of Confederation, a predecessor to the modern Constitution.

William Hooper.5) William Hooper

A lawyer and politician, Hooper represented North Carolina during the signing of the Declaration. However, this distinction did not come easily – Hooper was initially identified as a Loyalist, and many of the Patriots were hesitant to accept his denial of the Crown. He was eventually elected to the General Assembly of North Carolina, where he was able to show that he did not support the British government through political maneuvers. After signing the Declaration, Hooper became a target for the British army, and spent many years evading capture during the Revolution. He would later return to practicing law.