Timothy Matlack

Last updated
Timothy Matlack
Timothy Matlack.jpg
A 1790 portrait of Matlack by Charles Willson Peale on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
Born(1736-03-28)March 28, 1736
DiedApril 14, 1829(1829-04-14) (aged 93)
Holmesburg, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Resting placeWetherills Cemetery in Audubon, Pennsylvania
NationalityAmerican
Known for"Scribe of the Declaration of Independence"
Spouses
Eleanor Yarnell
(m. 1758;died 1791)
Elizabeth Claypoole
(m. 1797)

Timothy Matlack (March 28, 1736 – April 14, 1829) was an American politician, military officer and businessman who was chosen in 1776 to inscribe the original United States Declaration of Independence on vellum. [1] . A brewer and beer bottler who emerged as a popular and powerful leader in the American Revolutionary War, Matlack served as Secretary of Pennsylvania during the conflict and a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1780. Matlack was known for his excellent penmanship, and his handwritten copy of the Declaration is on public display in the Rotunda of the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

Contents

Matlack became one of Pennsylvania's most provocative and influential political figures. He was removed from office by his political enemies at the end of the Revolutionary War, but returned to power in the Jeffersonian era. [2]

Early life and education

Matlack was born in Haddonfield, New Jersey, on March 28, 1736, to Elizabeth Martha Burr Haines and Timothy Matlack. His grandparents were William Matlack and Mary Hancock, and Henry Burr and Elizabeth Hudson. His siblings were Sybil, Elizabeth, Titus, Seth, Josiah, and White Matlack; his half-siblings were Reuben Haines and Mary Haines. His first cousin was a Quaker abolitionist John Woolman. [3]

In 1738, the family moved to Philadelphia, and he was apprenticed to the prosperous Quaker merchant John Reynell in 1749. At the end of his term, he married Ellen Yarnall, the daughter of Quaker minister Mordecai Yarnall, and their children were William, Mordecai, Sibyl, Catharine, and Martha.[ citation needed ]

Career

Matlack's original Declaration of Independence, now faded, is on public view in the Charters of Freedom rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. USA declaration independence.jpg
Matlack's original Declaration of Independence, now faded, is on public view in the Charters of Freedom rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

In 1760, Matlack opened a store called the Case Knife, and he and Owen Biddle purchased a steel furnace in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1762. His shop failed in 1765, and he was disowned by the Quakers who complained that he had been "frequenting company in such a manner as to spend too much of his time from home". He was confined to debtors' prison in 1768 and 1769.[ citation needed ]

By 1769, Matlack set up a new business selling bottled beer and opened his own brewery near Independence Hall in Philadelphia.[ citation needed ]

In 1774, Matlack was hired by Charles Thomson, Secretary of the First Continental Congress, to engross (transcribe) an address to the King of England.[ citation needed ]

In May 1775, he became clerk to the Second Continental Congress and, in June, he composed George Washington's commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army of the United Colonies. Congress elevated him to Storekeeper of Military Supplies. He was also a member of Philadelphia's Committee of Inspection and Secretary of the Committee of Officers of the city's three militia battalions.[ citation needed ]

In January 1776, Philadelphia added two more battalions to its militia brigade, and Matlack was elected Colonel of the Fifth Battalion of Rifle Rangers. He was a delegate to the Conference of Committees, which met in June to plan a new constitution for Pennsylvania. Later that month, he engrossed the United States Declaration of Independence on parchment, and the 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress began signing it on August 2, 1776; it was unanimously adopted by all 56 delegates on July 4, 1776.[ citation needed ]

Matlack was instrumental in drafting the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, which he ardently defended against critics, including Benjamin Rush, James Wilson, and John Dickinson. Newspapers were his primary medium and he signed a number of articles with the pseudonym Tiberius Gracchus. [4] As Secretary to the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, Matlack was one of the most powerful men in the new state during the American Revolutionary War. In 1780, his government passed an Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery.

The Philadelphia and Pennsylvania militia crossed the Delaware River with Washington on December 27, 1776, and Colonel Matlack and his 5th Rifle Battalion were part of the expedition. Washington credited the Pennsylvania militia for their timely service in this campaign, and other officers commended the force for its manliness and spirit. Following the British occupation of Philadelphia, Washington assigned Benedict Arnold to the post of Commandant of Philadelphia, and Matlack came to despise Arnold's presence. He led an investigation of Arnold's wrongdoing, which triggered a court martial, and the court sentenced Arnold to be reprimanded by the Commander-in-Chief. Washington said that his officer's behavior had been "reprehensible"; Arnold's treason was discovered five months later.[ citation needed ]

Matlack was named a trustee of the University of the State of Pennsylvania in 1779. In 1780, he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society and served as its secretary from 1781 to 1783. [5]

In 1781, Matlack was among the founders of The Religious Society of Free Quakers, Quakers who were "disowned" because of their support of the American war for independence. He was also one of the earliest opponents of slavery in America, and he felt that the Quakers were not moving quickly enough to abolish it.[ citation needed ]

Along with Benjamin Franklin and Robert Morris, Matlack helped raise a substantial sum of money to construct the Free Quaker Meeting House at the corner of Fifth and Arch Streets in Center City Philadelphia.[ citation needed ]

In 1790, Matlack was commissioned to survey the "headwaters of the Susquehanna River and the streams of the New Purchase," the northwestern portion of the state purchased from the American Indians. They were also charged with exploring a route for a passageway to connect the West Branch with the Allegheny River. [6] He lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from 1799 until 1808 when Lancaster was the capital of Pennsylvania, [1] and he worked as a clerk of the Pennsylvania State Senate. [1]

Matlack was known for his household garden, which included 28 types of peach tree. [1]

Death

Matlack died in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania, on April 14, 1829, and was interred in the Free Quaker Burial Ground on South Fifth Street in Philadelphia. In 1905, his remains were removed and reinterred in Wetherill Cemetery opposite Valley Forge.[ citation needed ]

See also

Notes

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas McKean</span> American Founding Father and politician (1734–1817)

Thomas McKean was an American lawyer, politician, and Founding Father. During the American Revolution, he was a Delaware delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, where he signed the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation. McKean served as a President of Congress.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United States Declaration of Independence</span> 1776 American national founding document

The Declaration of Independence, formally titled The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, is the founding document of the United States. On July 4, 1776, it was adopted unanimously by the 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress, who had convened at the Pennsylvania State House, later renamed Independence Hall, in the colonial-era capital of Philadelphia. The declaration explains to the world why the Thirteen Colonies regarded themselves as independent sovereign states no longer subject to British colonial rule.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Continental Congress</span> Convention of delegates that became the governing body of the United States (1774–1789)

The Continental Congress was a series of legislative bodies, with some executive function, for the thirteen colonies of Great Britain in North America, and the newly declared United States before, during, and after the American Revolutionary War. The Continental Congress refers to both the First and Second Congresses of 1774–1781 and at the time, also described the Congress of the Confederation of 1781–1789. The Confederation Congress operated as the first federal government until being replaced following ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Until 1785, the Congress met predominantly at what is today Independence Hall in Philadelphia, though it was relocated temporarily on several occasions during the Revolutionary War and the fall of Philadelphia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joseph Hewes</span> American Founding Father and politician (1730-1779)

Joseph Hewes was an American Founding Father and a signer of the Continental Association and U.S. Declaration of Independence. Hewes was a native of Princeton, New Jersey, where he was born in 1730. His parents were members of the Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers. Early biographies of Hewes falsely claim that his parents came from Connecticut. Hewes may have attended the College of New Jersey, known today as Princeton University but there is no record of his attendance. He did, in all probability, attend the grammar school set up by the Stonybrook Quaker Meeting near Princeton.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caesar Rodney</span> American Founding Father and politician

Caesar Rodney was an American Founding Father, lawyer, and politician from St. Jones Neck in Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware. He was an officer of the Delaware militia during the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, a Continental Congressman from Delaware, a signer of the Continental Association and Declaration of Independence, and president of Delaware during most of the American Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Ross (American politician)</span> American Founding Father and politician

George Ross Jr was a Founding Father of the United States who signed the Continental Association and the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Pennsylvania. He was also the uncle of the man who married Betsy Griscom in 1773, more famous under her married name, Betsy Ross. In 1952, Ross, George Washington, and Robert Morris appeared on a three-cent stamp commemorating Betsy Ross.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Taylor (Pennsylvania politician)</span> Founding Father of the United States (c. 1716 – 1781)

George Taylor was an American ironmaster and politician who was a Founding Father of the United States and a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Pennsylvania. His former home, the George Taylor House in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, was named a National Historic Landmark in 1971.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Province of Pennsylvania</span> British colony in North America (1681–1776)

The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as the Pennsylvania Colony, was a British North American colony founded by William Penn, who received the land through a grant from Charles II of England in 1681. The name Pennsylvania was derived from "Penn's Woods", referring to William's father Admiral Sir William Penn.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Dickinson</span> Founding Father of the United States (1732-1808)

John Dickinson, a Founding Father of the United States, was an attorney and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware. Dickinson was known as the "Penman of the Revolution" for his twelve Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, published individually in 1767 and 1768, and he also wrote "The Liberty Song" in 1768.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jacob Shallus</span> American calligrapher (1750–1796)

Jacob Shallus or Shalus was the engrosser or penman of the original copy of the United States Constitution. The handwritten document that Shallus engrossed is on display in the Rotunda of the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

Daniel Roberdeau was an American Founding Father and merchant residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the time of the American War of Independence. He represented Pennsylvania from 1777 to 1779 in the Continental Congress, where he signed the Articles of Confederation. Roberdeau served as a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania state militia during the war.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Montgomery (Pennsylvania soldier)</span> American general and politician

William Montgomery was a colonial-American patriot, pioneer, soldier, public servant, and abolitionist.

James Cannon (1740–1782) was a Scottish-born American mathematician, and one of the principal draftsmen of the 1776 Constitution of the State of Pennsylvania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pennsylvania in the American Revolution</span>

Pennsylvania was the site of many key events associated with the American Revolution and American Revolutionary War. The city of Philadelphia, then capital of the Thirteen Colonies and the largest city in the colonies, was a gathering place for the Founding Fathers who discussed, debated, developed, and ultimately implemented many of the acts, including signing the Declaration of Independence, that inspired and launched the revolution and the quest for independence from the British Empire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United Colonies</span> Name used for the Thirteen Colonies

The United Colonies was the name used by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia to describe the emerging nation comprising the Thirteen Colonies in 1775 and 1776, before and as independence was declared. Continental currency banknotes displayed the name 'The United Colonies' from May 1775 until February 1777, and the name was being used as a colloquial phrase to refer to the colonies as a whole before the Second Congress met, although the precise place or date of its origin is unknown.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Committee of Five</span> Second Continental Congress delegates who drafted the U.S. Declaration of Independence

The Committee of Five of the Second Continental Congress was a group of five members who drafted and presented to the full Congress in Pennsylvania State House what would become the United States Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. This Declaration committee operated from June 11, 1776, until July 5, 1776, the day on which the Declaration was published.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Physical history of the United States Declaration of Independence</span>

The physical history of the United States Declaration of Independence spans from its original drafting in 1776 into the discovery of historical documents in modern time. This includes a number of drafts, handwritten copies, and published broadsides. The Declaration of Independence states that the thirteen colonies were now the "United Colonies" which "are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States"; and were no longer a part of the British Empire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Signing of the United States Declaration of Independence</span>

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence</span> Memorial in the Constitution Gardens, Washington, D.C.

The Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence is a memorial depicting the signatures of the 56 signatories to the United States Declaration of Independence. It is located in the Constitution Gardens on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The memorial is accessible to the public by crossing a wooden bridge onto a small island set in the lake between Constitution Avenue and the Reflecting Pool, not far from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Reuben Haines was an early American brewer, firefighter, and land prospector from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Brubaker, Jack (2016-06-28). "The Scribbler: The man who really wrote the Declaration of Independence". (LNP) Lancaster Online . Retrieved 2016-07-06.
  2. Coelho, Chris. Timothy Matlack: Scribe of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2013, p. 55.
  3. Coelho, Chris Timothy Matlack: Scribe of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013, p.185.
  4. Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth, (ed. Millegrand Pencak, W., the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, PA, 2002, p. 117)
  5. "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  6. Storey, Henry Wilson. "History of Cambria County, Pennsylvania." New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1907.
  7. "Presenting the Facts: National Treasure". 19 December 2016.
  8. "American Scribe | Adobe Fonts".