|Born|| March 3, 1714 |
|Died||June 24, 1803 89) (aged|
|Resting place||Thornton Cemetery, Merrimack, New Hampshire|
|Known for||Signer of the United States Declaration of Independence|
Matthew Thornton (March 3, 1714 – June 24, 1803) was an Irish-born Founding Father of the United States who signed the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Hampshire.
Thornton was born in Ireland in 1714 to James and Elizabeth ( née Jenkins) Thornton, who were Scots-Irish.At the time of the Siege of Derry in 1689, James Thornton lived on a farm within a mile of Derry, and this is where Matthew was probably born, although Lisburn and Limerick have also been suggested as birthplaces.
In 1716, Thornton's family immigrated to North America when he was three years old, settling first in Wiscasset, Maine.On July 11, 1722, the community was attacked by Native Americans. James and Elizabeth Thornton fled from their burning home with Matthew, moving shortly thereafter to Worcester, Massachusetts. Thornton completed studies in medicine at Leicester. He became a physician and established a medical practice in Londonderry, New Hampshire. He was appointed as a surgeon for the New Hampshire Militia troops in an expedition against Fortress Louisbourg in 1745. He served in the New Hampshire Provincial Assembly from 1758-1762, had royal commissions as justice of the peace, and served as colonel in the militia from 1775 until his resignation in 1779.
In 1760 Thornton married Hannah Jack, and the couple had five children.Thornton became a Londonderry selectman, a representative to and president of the Provincial Assembly, and a member of the Committee of Safety, drafting New Hampshire's plan of government after dissolution of the royal government, which was the first state constitution adopted after the start of hostilities with England.
Thronton served as the president of the New Hampshire Provincial Congress in 1775, and from January to September 1776, as speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.He was elected to the Continental Congress after the debates on independence had occurred, but as he did not arrive in Philadelphia until November 1776, he was granted permission to actually sign the Declaration of Independence four months after the formal signing in July.
He became a political essayist. He retired from his medical practice and in 1780 moved to Merrimack, New Hampshire, where he farmed and operated Thornton's ferry with his family. Although he did not attend law school,he served as a judge on the New Hampshire Superior Court from 1776-1782.
In 1783, Thornton represented the towns of Merrimack and Bedford in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and then Hillsborough County in the New Hampshire Senate from 1784-1787, while simultaneously serving as a state counselor from 1785–86 and as a state representative again for Merrimack in 1786.His wife Hannah died in 1786.
Thornton died in Newburyport, Massachusetts, while visiting his daughter. He was 90 years old.Matthew Thornton is buried in Thornton Cemetery in Merrimack, and his cenotaph reads "The Honest Man."
The town of Thornton, New Hampshire, is named in his honor, as is a Londonderry elementary school, and Thorntons Ferry School in Merrimack. Thornton's residence in Derry, which was part of Londonderry at the time, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He is featured on a New Hampshire historical marker (number 79) along U.S. Route 3 in Merrimack.
Thornton was the uncle of Capt. Matthew Thornton, a suspected Loyalist who was charged with treason related to actions just before the Battle of Bennington in 1777. Ebenezer Webster, father of Daniel Webster, was enlisted to investigate the allegation. At his trial Capt. Thornton pleaded not guilty. Evidence was presented both for and against and the jury found him not guilty, whereupon he was discharged.
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Declaration of Independence is a 12-by-18-foot oil-on-canvas painting by the American artist John Trumbull depicting the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress. It was based on a much smaller version of the same scene, presently held by the Yale University Art Gallery. Trumbull painted many of the figures in the picture from life, and visited Independence Hall to depict the chamber where the Second Continental Congress met. The oil-on-canvas work was commissioned in 1817, purchased in 1819, and placed in the United States Capitol rotunda in 1826.
Silas Betton was an American lawyer, sheriff and politician from the U.S. state of New Hampshire. He served as a member of the United States House of Representatives, the New Hampshire Senate and the New Hampshire House of Representatives during the late 1700s and early 1800s.
The Matthew Thornton House is a historic house and National Historic Landmark in Derry, New Hampshire. It was from 1740 to 1779 the home of Matthew Thornton, a signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
The Signer's House and Matthew Thornton Cemetery are a pair of historic properties in Merrimack, New Hampshire, United States. It consists of a house, once owned by Matthew Thornton, a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence, and the adjacent cemetery in which he is buried. The house is a two-story Georgian style double house, and is the only surviving house of the period in Merrimack. It was owned by Thornton from 1780 to 1797, when he sold it to his son James. The cemetery, located across the Daniel Webster Highway from the house, is also Merrimack's first cemetery, with the oldest gravestone marked 1742.
The signing of the United States Declaration of Independence occurred primarily on August 2, 1776, at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, later to become known as Independence Hall. The 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress represented the 13 colonies, 12 of which voted to approve the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The New York delegation abstained because they had not yet received instructions from Albany to vote for independence. The Declaration proclaimed the signatory colonies were now "free and independent States," no longer colonies of the Kingdom of Great Britain and, thus, no longer a part of the British Empire. The signers’ names are grouped by state, with the exception of John Hancock, as President of the Continental Congress; the states are arranged geographically from south to north, with Button Gwinnett from Georgia first, and Matthew Thornton from New Hampshire last.
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