Sunday’s Salute ~ Signers of the Declaration of Independence

fireworksOn this 4th of July weekend, I wanted to honor 4 of my Revolutionary War Soldiers who also signed the Declaration of Independence which was approved on July 4, 1776 and signed on August 2, 1776.


Benjamin Harrison V is my 2nd cousin 8x removed. He was born on August 15 1726 in Berkeley Plantation, Charles City Co., Virginia. He was an American planter, merchant, and legislator in colonial Virginia. He was a Founding Father of the United States and also served as Virginia’s governor (1781–1784).

Benjamin served as an aggregate for three decades in the Virginia House of Burgesses, representing Surry County and Charles City County. He was among the early patriots to formally protest tyrannical measures imposed by King George and his Parliament upon the American colonies leading to the American Revolution. As a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, and Chairman of its Committee of the Whole, Harrison attended and presided over the final debate of the Declaration of Independence. After the War, he was elected as Virginia’s fifth governor. He died on 24 Apr 1791.

Francis_Lightfoot_LeeFrancis Lightfoot Lee is my 2nd cousin 8x removed. He was born on October 14, 1734, in Hauge, Westmoreland Co, Virginia. was a member of the House of Burgesses in the Colony of Virginia. As an active protester regarding issues such as the Stamp Act, Lee helped move the colony in the direction of independence from Britain. Lee was a delegate to the Virginia Conventions and the Continental Congress. He was a signer of the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence as a representative of Virginia.

In 1774, Lee was among those who called for a general congress and the first of the Virginia Conventions, which he attended. He served in the Virginia State Senate from 1778 to 1782 and was a delegate to the First Continental Congress held in Philadelphia, serving until 1779. As a congressional representative of Virginia, he signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He died on January 11, 1797.

Richard Henry Lee is my 2nd cousin 8x removed and older brother to Francis was 220px-Richard_Henry_Lee_at_Nat._Portrait_Gallery_IMG_4471born on January 20, 1732, in Hauge, Westmoreland Co, Virginia. He was an American statesman and Founding Father from Virginia best known for the June 1776 Lee Resolution, the motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies’ independence from Great Britain leading to the United States Declaration of Independence, which he signed. He also served a one-year term as the President of the Continental Congress, was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation, and was a United States Senator from Virginia from 1789 to 1792, serving during part of that time as the second President pro tempore of the upper house. In 1757, Lee was appointed justice of the peace in Westmoreland County. In 1758 he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he met Patrick Henry. An early advocate of independence, Lee became one of the first to create Committees of Correspondence among the many independence-minded Americans in the various colonies. In 1766, almost ten years before the American Revolutionary War, Lee is credited with having authored the Westmoreland Resolution which was publicly signed by prominent landowners who met at Leedstown, Westmoreland County, Virginia on February 27, 1766. This resolution was signed by four brothers of George Washington as well as Gilbert Campbell.

In August 1774, Lee was chosen as a delegate to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia. In Lee’s Resolution on June 7, 1776, during the Second Continental Congress, Lee put forth the motion to the Continental Congress to declare Independence from Great Britain, which read (in part):

Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Lee had returned to Virginia by the time Congress voted on and adopted the Declaration of Independence, but he signed the document when he returned to Congress. Richard died on June 19, 1794.

220px-Thomas_Nelson_(1700s)Thomas Nelson Jr is my 8th Great Uncle, was born on December 26, 1738, in Yorktown, Virginia. was an American planter, soldier, and statesman from Yorktown. He represented Virginia in the Continental Congress and was its Governor in 1781. He is regarded as one of the U.S. Founding Fathers. He signed the Declaration of Independence as a member of the Virginia delegation and fought in the militia during the Siege of Yorktown. Thomas was first elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1761. Nelson’s first term in the Congress continued until 1776 when a bout of illness forced his resignation. While a member of Congress, Nelson still found time to return home and play a key role in Virginia’s Constitutional Convention in the spring of 1776. He returned to Congress in time to sign the Declaration. He was one of the thirteen committee members appointed in the Continental Congress on June 12, 1776, to “prepare and digest the form of confederation” which led to the Articles of Confederation.

He was a Brigadier General of the Lower Virginia Militia and succeeded Thomas Jefferson as governor of Virginia. Nelson himself was engaged in the final Siege of Yorktown. According to legend, he urged General Washington (or, in some versions, the Marquis de Lafayette) to fire on his own home, the Nelson House, where Cornwallis had his headquarters, offering five guineas to the first man to hit his house. He died on January 3, 1789.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

4 thoughts on “Sunday’s Salute ~ Signers of the Declaration of Independence

  1. That’s a great bit of history to have in your family tree! One of my favorite musicals is “1776” and Richard Henry Lee has a song in it. I’ve heard that many of the signers were financially ruined by the Revolution. Well, at least they weren’t hung for treason!

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