FAQ: Inalienable Rights

Claimed in the Declaration of Independence as “unalienable rights,” inalienable rights are those that are not under the purview of the government – those rights that are inherent to each person.1 They are also sometimes referred to as natural rights, because they could only be granted by God. America’s Founding Fathers emphasized inalienable rights throughout their writings since they were considered most valuable and to be closely guarded.

Liberties dearer to you than your lives, “which God gave to you and which no inferior power has a right to take away.” JOHN DICKINSON “Penman of the Revolution”2

The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature by the hand of the Divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power. ALEXANDER HAMILTON3

That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. VIRGINIA DECLARATION OF RIGHTS (1776)4

Some of the inalienable rights the Founders specifically mentioned included:5

  • Life
  • Liberty
  • Private Property
  • Conscience (specifically relating to worshipping God)
  • Self-Preservation or “Personal Security”
  • Happiness
  • Private Judgment or “Self-Direction”
  • Association
  • Right to Necessary Things (air, water, earth)

Additional Resources

Biblical Christianity: The Origin of the Right of Conscience

A God-Given Inalienable Right

The Founders on the Second Amendment

The Founders Bible

The Second Amendment


1 Noah Webster, “inalienable,” An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828). Today there is a question of whether the correct term is “inalienable” (as now used in contemporary English) or “unalienable” (as it originally appeared in the Declaration). As seen in this definition by Noah Webster (a soldier in the American War for Independence, and a judge and legislator afterwards), “unalienable” is a synonym for “inalienable.”

2 John Dickinson, letter to the Society of Fort St. David’s, 1768, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, ed. R. T. H. Halsey (New York: The Outlook Company, 1903), xlii.

3Alexander Hamilton, “The Farmer Refuted,” February 5, 1775,” The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. John C. Hamilton (New York: John F. Trow, 1850), II:80.

4 The Virginia Declaration of Rights, adopted unanimously June 12, 1776, Virginia Convention of Delegates, drafted by George Mason, The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, accessed December 4, 2023, https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/virginia.asp.

5. See, for example: Samuel Adams, “The Rights of The Colonists, A List of Violations of Rights and a Letter of Correspondence, Adopted by the Town of Boston, November 20, 1772,” The Life and Public Service of Samuel Adams, ed. William V. Wells (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1865), I:502. Samuel Adams, An Oration Delivered at the State House, in Philadelphia, to a Very Numerous Audience; on Thursday the 1st of August, 1776 (London: J. Johnson, 1776), 4. The Massachusetts Constitution 1780, drafted by John Adams, “A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” James Madison, “Property,” from the National Gazette, March 29, 1792, The Writings of James Madison, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1906), VI:101-102. James Wilson, “Of Crimes Against the Right of Individuals to Personal Safety,” The Works of the Honourable James Wilson, ed. Bird Wilson (Philadelphia: Lorenzo Press, 1804), III:84-85. John Witherspoon, Lectures on Moral Philosophy; Lecture X, “Of Politics,” The Works of John Witherspoon (Edinburgh: Ogle & Aikman, 1805), VII:77-78.

Ten Facts About George Washington

From the $1 Bill to the capital of America, George Washington’s name appears more often than probably any other name in American history. Being the most prominent Founding Father, everyone learns how Washington led the Continental Army against the British during the War for Independence and eventually became the first President of the United States. But there are plenty of stories and facts that are rarely taught in schools today. Watch the video and then read below about ten facts you probably do not know about George Washington.

1. George Washington did not chop down a cherry tree.

“I cannot tell a lie,” a young George Washington is reported to have said—but his biographers sure can! The famous story originates from the 5th edition of the popular biography The Life of Washington the Great by Mason Weems.1 Published in 1806, seven years after Washington’s death, there are no primary sources attesting to its truthfulness. All things considered, its late appearance and the complete lack of evidence has led most to consider it apocryphal.

2. He was most embarrassed about his lack of education and his bad teeth.

The most persistent enemy to Washington were not his political or military opponents, but his teeth. By the time he was sworn in as the first President of the United States he only had a single original tooth left.2 Over the course of his life he had a number of dentures made from a wide variety of materials.3 The dentures of the time were large, bulky, and burdensome which worked together to make Washington quite self-conscience about them leading him to be more introverted than perhaps he might have been.4

On top of this, George Washington did not have the same high level of education his older brothers received due to the death of their father when he was only eleven years old. This tragedy led Washington to become a surveyor (which incidentally provided the exact education he needed to accomplish the amazing things God had planned for him). When standing next to the genius level intellects of Jefferson, Adams, and others it was easy for Washington to feel at an embarrassing disadvantage to his more educated peers.5 That said, Washington was still incredibly intelligent on account of his extensive reading throughout his life in order to make up for his perceived lack of formal education.

3. He was nominated to be commander of the colonial army by John Adams.

“I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.”6 It was with these words that the ever-humble George Washington accepted the unanimous appointment to command the soon-to-be-created Continental Army. The official vote happened on June 15, 1775, with John Adams credited as being the one who recommended and nominated Washington to the position.7 On the occasion, Adams wrote to his wife explaining how Congress elected the, “modest and virtuous, the amiable, generous and brave George Washington,” and solemnly proclaimed that, “the Liberties of America, depend upon him.”8

4. George Washington was described as being taller than the average man.

In an era when the average man stood at 5’7″, noted early biographer Jared Sparks clocked Washington in at an impressive 6’3″ tall.9 John Adams, later in life, wrote to fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, that Washington had, “a tall stature, like the Hebrew sovereign chosen because he was taller by the head than the other Jews.”10

A military observer repeatedly called attention to the vast stature of Washington, explaining, “it is not difficult to distinguish him from all others; his personal appearance is truly noble and majestic; being tall and well proportioned.”11 He continues to write that Washington, “is remarkably tall, full six feet, erect and well proportioned…This is the illustrious chief, whom a kind Providence has decreed as the instrument to conduct our country to peace and to Independence.”12 George Washington was a tall man with an even bigger purpose.

5. He encouraged his troops to go to church.

As General, Washington would issue orders throughout the army instructing them on daily operations. On June 23, 1777, he issued the following order:

“All chaplains are to perform divine service tomorrow, and on every other succeeding Sunday, with their respective brigades and regiments, when their situations will admit of it, and the commanding officers of the corps are to see that they attend. The Commander-in-Chief expects an exact compliance with this order, and that it be observed in future as an invariable rule of practice, and every neglect will not only be considered a breach of orders, but a disregard to decency, virtue, and religion.”13

Being a man of great piety and sincere religion himself, it is no surprise that Washington placed such an extraordinary emphasis on his soldiers’ corporate worship. In fact, when Washington believed the chaplains were not making regular church services a proper priority, he required all the chaplains to come to a meeting to address the issue and then report back to him.14

Washington’s devotion to Christ was so apparent in the camp that the Rev. Henry Muhlenberg, father of Major General John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, remarked:

“His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away the wickedness that has set in and become so general, and to practice the Christian virtues. From all appearances this gentleman does not belong to the so-called world of society, for he respects God’s Word, believes in the atonement through Christ, and bears himself in humility and gentleness. Therefore the Lord God has also singularly, yea, marvelously, preserved him form harm in the midst of countless perils, ambuscades [ambushes], fatigues, etc. and has hitherto graciously held him in His hand as a [chosen] vessel. II Chronicles 15:1-3.”15

6. He forbade his officers to swear.

Along the same lines as the previous fact, Washington focused on making the American military not only righteous but also respectable. To this end, on July 4, 1775, he issued the following order:

“The General most earnestly requires, and expects, a due observance of those articles of war, established for the government of the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing and drunkenness. And in like manner requires and expects, of all officers, and soldiers, not engaged on actual duty, a punctual attendance on Divine Service, to implore the blessings of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and defense.”16

7. He was the only President elected unanimously.

After the ratification of the Constitution, the first order of business was to fill the newly created positions of government. The most important question was, “who will be our President?” For the Americans of 1789, that was apparently an easy answer. “George Washington of course!” With that resolution, Washington, “by no effort of his own, in a manner against his wishes, by the unanimous vote of a grateful country.”17 In the history of the United States, there has been only one other unanimous vote for President — Washington again for his second term.18

8. George Washington added “So help me God” to the Presidential Oath of Office.

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution states that when the President is sworn into office, he is to say the following oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

With his hand laid upon the open Bible, Washington repeated the oath. He then sealed the oath by with a solemn, “so help me God,” and reverently bowed down and kissed the Bible.19 One eyewitness to the event recalled that, “it seemed, from the number of witnesses, to be a solemn appeal to Heaven and earth at once.”20

9. He was elected to be a vestryman at local churches.

In early American Episcopalian churches, vestrymen were, “a select number of principal persons of every parish, who choose parish officers and take care of its concerns.”21 This included making sure the poor, widows, and orphans were taken care of, and even extended to major decisions about the church as a whole.

George Washington was elected (perhaps his first election) to be a vestryman in two different parishes. In March of 1765, he was chosen in Fairfax Parish with 274 votes, and then four months later he was again chosen in Truro Parish with 259 votes.22 Washington was extremely active as a vestryman.23

On one occasion, Washington even went toe-to-toe with George Mason (fellow future delegate to the Constitution Convention) about relocating the church to a new site. After an impassioned speech by Mason which seemingly settled the question, Washington unassumingly rose and used a surveying map to show where the new site would be and how it would be better for each parishioner. This sudden recourse to sound reason and just sensibilities restored the council to their senses and they voted with Washington to move the church to the new site.24

10. George Washington was killed by his doctors.

This characterization might be a little uncharitable—the doctors were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had—but it doesn’t mean it’s not true. The old General fell sick after riding out on Mount Vernon during the cold rain. Soon, he was struggling to breathe. The following is taken from the journal of George Washington’s lifelong friend and physician, James Craik:

“The disease commenced with a violent ague, accompanied with some pain in the upper and fore part of throat, a sense of stricture in the same part, a cough, and a difficult rather than paint deglutition, which were soon succeeded by fever and a quick and laborious respiration. The necessity of blood-letting suggesting itself to the General, he procured a bleeder in the neighborhood, who took from his arm, in the night, twelve or fourteen ounces of blood.”25

Medical science at the time thought that a number of sicknesses were caused because of some issue with the person’s blood itself. To fix the disease, therefore, a common “solution” would be to bleed a patient out in order to get rid of the bad blood.

Once more doctors had been called to the scene, Craik continues:

“In the interim were employed two copious bleedings; a blister was applied to the part affected, two moderate doses of calomel were given, and an injection was administered, which operated on the lower intestines—but all without any perceptible advantage; the respiration becoming still more difficult and distressing.”26

Even more blood was taken, and now the doctors applied hot irons to his throat because they thought that an accumulation of blood in Washington’s throat was what caused the difficulty breathing. Calomel is a kind of mercury chloride, which, we now know to be quite toxic! This, along with the bleedings and the injections were a long way off from helping Washington recover. But the doctors weren’t done yet:

“Upon the arrival of the first of the consulting physicians, it was agreed… To try the result of another bleeding, when about thirty-two ounces of blood were drawn, without the smallest apparent alleviation of the disease… ten grains of calomel were given, succeeded by repeated doses of emetic tartar, amounting, in all, to five or six grains, with no other effect than a copious discharge of the bowels. The powers of life seemed now manifestly yielding to the force of the disorder. Blisters were applied to the extremities.”27

More blood-letting, more toxic calomel, more blisters. The biggest variation in this round of treatments is that they gave Washington another poisonous substance—emetic tartar. Altogether, it served only to give the dying President diarrhea.

Finally, Dr. Craik relates the end to his friend’s suffering:

“Speaking, which was painful from the beginning, now became almost impracticable; respiration grew more and more contracted and imperfect, till… when retaining the full possession of his intellect, he expired without a struggle.”28

A contemporary doctor estimated the total amount of blood drawn to be, “the enormous quantity of eighty-two ounces, or above two quarts and a half of blood in about thirteen hours.”29 The same doctor goes on to accurately explain that:

“Very few of the most robust young men in the world could survive such a loss of blood; but the body of an aged person must be so exhausted, and all his power so weakened by it as to make his death speedy and inevitable.”30

The average amount of blood in someone of Washington’s size and stature is around 210 ounces. If, as the doctor estimates, somewhere around 82 ounces were taken, then Washington lost nearly 40% of his blood. This amount is nearly tantamount to exsanguination (death by bleeding out), and when combined with the blisters, calomel, emetic tartars, and the various vapors, it appears to be the unfortunate conclusion that the doctors killed George Washington.31


1. Mason Locke Weems, The Life of Washington the Great (Augusta: George P. Randolph, 1806), 8-9.
2. “Washington Tooth Troubles,” Mount Vernon (accessed March 29, 2019).
3. “False Teeth,” Mount Vernon (accessed September 18, 2023).
4. “Washington Tooth Troubles,” Mount Vernon (accessed March 29, 2019).
5. “Education” Mount Vernon (accessed March 29, 2019).
6. June 16, 1775, Journal of the Proceedings of the Congress, Held at Philadelphia, May 10, 1775
7. John Adams autobiography, part 1, through 1776, Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive, Massachusetts Historical Society.
8. John Adams to Abigail Adams, June 17, 1775, Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive, Massachusetts Historical Society.
9. Jared Sparks, The Life of George Washington (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1839), 102n.
10. John Adams to Benjamin Rush, November 11, 1807, Founders Online (accessed March 29, 2019).
11. James Thacher, A Military Journal During the American Revolutionary War (Boston: Richardson and Lord, 1823), 37.
12. Thacher, Military Journal, 182-183.
13. George Washington, General Order, June 28, 1777, Records of the Revolutionary War (New York: Pudney & Russell, 1858), 330.
14. Washington, General Order, October 6, 1777, Records of the Revolutionary War, 345.
15. Henry M. Muhlenberg, The Journals of Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg (Philadelphia: The Muhlenberg Press, 1958), III:149, journal entry for May 7, 1778.
16. George Washington, General Orders, July 4, 1775, Library of Congress (accessed September 18, 2023).
17. Washington Irving, Life of George Washington (New York: G. P. Putman & Company, 1857), IV:516.
18. Annals of Congress (1873), 2nd Congress, 2nd Session,  874-875, February 13, 1793; Jared Sparks, The Life of George Washington (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1839), 445.
19. Irving, Washington, IV:475.
20. “Philadelphia, May 8. Extract of a Letter from New York, May 3,” Gazette of the United States (May 9 to May 13, 1789).
21. Noah Webster, “Vestry-man,” American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).
22. Jared Sparks, The Life of George Washington (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1839), 520.
23. “Churchwarden and Vestryman,” Mount Vernon (accessed April 1, 2019).
24. Sparks, Washington, 106.
25. James Craik, “From The Times, A Newspaper printed in Alexandria (Virginia), dated December, 1799,” The Medical Repository (New York: T. & J. Swords, 1805), III:311.
26. Craik, “From The Times” Medical Repository, III:311-312.
27. Craik, “From The Times” Medical Repository, III:312.
28. Craik, “From The Times” Medical Repository, III:312.
29. John Brickell, “Medical Treatment of General Washington,” Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Printed for the College, 1903), 25:93.
30. Brickell, “Medical Treatment” College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 25:93.
31. For a more technical examination of the medical circumstances surrounding Washington’s death see, Dr. Wallenborn’s, “George Washington’s Terminal Illness: A Modern Medical Analysis of the Last Illness and Death of George Washington,” The Washington Papers (November 5, 1997).


* Originally posted: May 9, 2019


John Hart – Quiet Farmer. Selfless Patriot.

“Having put his hand to the plow, he would not turn back.”

When fifty-six men of varying backgrounds, temperaments, means, and abilities, mutually pledged “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,” the words were not mere platitudes. Each knowingly signed his name. Many, if not most of those men lost loved ones and homes. Many accumulated great financial debt resulting in bankruptcy or loss of their properties. None sacrificed his honor.

Such was John Hart, signer of the Declaration from New Jersey and one of the many noted Christians among the Founding Fathers. Unlike some other Founders, Hart left little by way of written testimony. But his Christian character was widely attested to by those who knew him best. WallBuilders’ museum features some legal documents signed by John Hart and in which he affirms the legal oaths, on “the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God” (i.e., the entirety of the Scriptures). Significantly, many colonial oaths were not merely taken on the Bible, but used this specific stronger language.1

Not much is known about John Hart’s younger years, including not even the exact year he was born (ca. 1711-1715). He learned bravery and patriotism from his father who helped raise a volunteer army, named “The Jersey Blues,” to assist in the French and Indian War.2

Also like his father, John became a gentleman farmer, acquiring a large property where he raised grains for his mill, a multitude of livestock, and reared his 13 children. He was a natural leader in his community and in his church. His reputation as “Honest John Hart” earned him the confidence and respect of those around him.3 Although he preferred to remain on his farm, he answered duty’s call to public service time and time again. Over the course of 29 years he held several local and state offices. He early became interested in the cause of freedom, even helping to select New Jersey’s delegates to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765.4

John Hart was himself elected to the Continental Congress where, somewhere near the age of 60, he voted for the Declaration of Independence with “unusual zeal.”5 Since the British army was already ravaging New York at the time, he fully understood the eminent personal cost entailed by affixing his name to the Declaration of Independence. And it wasn’t long before he realized those consequences.

The British Army quickly swept into New Jersey. His property was pillaged by Hessian mercenaries. His two eldest sons were serving in the Continental Army and his remaining children had to flee their home. John was chased from his dying wife’s bedside and hunted by the enemy. He wandered about the countryside to avoid discovery by the British, rarely sleeping in the same place two nights in a row. In fact, he even had to sleep in the “resting place of a large dog” to avoid detection by a nearby British patrol.6  Several times, he was forced to flee as fast as he could to “save his neck” since he had been “marked for vengeance” by the British.7

John was never even tempted by the pardons offered by the British for “rebels” who would recant and declare their loyalty to the Crown.

Eventually, he was able to return to his destroyed home in 1777 and regather his scattered family. He began to restore his farm and property, but his health was permanently broken and he never fully recovered from the physical hardships of strain and exposure. His farm was later sold off to cover debts incurred during the war. He died before the end of the War, having yet witnessed the freedom for which he sacrificed so much.  We owe much to men such as John Hart who gave his all so that future generations might live in freedom and security.

To learn more about John Hart’s faith and character and that of his wife’s, read Lives of the Signers and Wives of the Signers (both reprinted by WallBuilders).


1. See, for example, Joseph Brevard, An Alphabetical Digest of the Public Statue Law of South Carolina (Charleston: John Hoff, 1814), II:86, “Oaths-Affirmations,” 1731; Oliver H. Prince, A Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia (Milledgeville: Grantland & Orme, 1822), 3, “An Act for the case of Dissenting Protestants, within this province, who may be scrupulous of taking an oath, in respect to the manner and form of administering the same,” passed December 13, 1756; Samuel Nevill, The Acts of the General Province of New Jersey (Woodbridge, NJ: James Parker, 1761), 135, “An Act for the Raising and Maintaining One Hundred and Twenty Effective Men, for the Defense of the Frontiers of the Colony of New Jersey,” passed June 3, 1757; John Haywood, A Manual of the Laws of North Carolina (Raleigh: J. Gales, 1814), 34, “Oaths and Affirmations. 1777”.

2. John Sanderson, Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, (Philadelphia: TR.W. Pomeroy, 1827), 9:94; L. Carroll Judson, A Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and of Washington and Patrick Henry (Philadelphia: J. Dobson, and Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1839), 189.

3.  Sanderson, Biography of the Signers (1827), 9:99; Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (New York: Thomas Mather, 1836), 228.

4. Benson J. Lossing, Biographical Sketches of the Signers of the Declaration of American Independence (New York: George F. Cooledge and Brother, 1848), 88.

5. Robert W. Lincoln, Lives of the Presidents of the United States; with Biographical Notices of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (New York: William W. Reed, 1833), 360.

6. Lincoln, Lives of the Presidents (1833), 360; Sanderson, Biography of the Signers (1827), 9:113.

7. Judson, A Biography of the Signers (1839), 191; Lossing, Biographical Sketches of the Signers (1848), 88.

Charles Thomson – the Life of the Cause of Liberty

America’s founding was blessed by the contributions of many individuals who are little, or even completely unknown to us today. Charles Thomson is one such unsung patriot.

In 1774 he was beginning to make a name for himself as a patriotic leader in Philadelphia. John Adams noted, “This Charles Thompson is the Sam Adams of Philadelphia — the Life of the Cause of Liberty, they say.”1

secretary-of-the-continental-congress-charles-thomson-2Though never a member of that august body, as Secretary of the Continental Congress for over fifteen years, Thomson had a front-row seat to the birth of the nation and his fingerprints are all over America’s establishing documents. For example, the copy of the Declaration of Independence included with the official Journals of Congress were in Thomson’s handwriting, and he was one of only two people who actually signed it on July 4th.2

secretary-of-the-continental-congress-charles-thomson-3 Thomson is also responsible for the Great Seal of the United States, which he prepared and Congress approved in 1782.3

As the First Congress took its place under the new government created by the Constitution, Thomson retired from that long-term post. His last official act was personally notifying George Washington that he had been unanimously selected the President of the United States.4

But Thomson was not only a great patriot and supporter of the American cause, he was also a champion of the Word of God. In fact, his name is associated with some of America’s earliest Bible editions.

For example, his name, as Secretary of Congress, is found in the introduction to “The Bible of the Revolution,” which was the first Bible printed in English in America. That Bible was printed by Robert Aitken, the official printer of the Continental Congress. Aitken described his Bible as “a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools.”5 It was reviewed and approved by a committee of the Continental Congress, and published with the official congressional endorsement prominently in the front. (All of the original books pictured below that are associated with Charles Thomson are from our collection at WallBuilders.)

secretary-of-the-continental-congress-charles-thomson-5 Thomson was also responsible for the first American translation of the Greek Septuagint (the full Greek Bible) into English in 1808 – a labor of love that consumed nearly two decades of his life.6 Called Thomson’s Bible, it is a four volume-set that is considered one of the most scholarly of American Bible translations.

secretary-of-the-continental-congress-charles-thomson-7 Thomson also produced an eight-volume set in which every other page was blank, thus allowing readers space to write notes on the Scriptures as they studied them.
secretary-of-the-continental-congress-charles-thomson-6 In 1815, Thomson published his famous Synopsis of the Four Evangelists, in which he took all the passages from the four Gospels and arranged them chronologically, producing something like one super long Gospel, with all Jesus’ words and acts arranged sequentially. Today, we call such a work a synoptic Gospel.

George Washington praised Thomson’s dedication, “Your Services have been important, as your patriotism was distinguished” He added his belief that “Posterity will find your Name so honorably connected…”7 Sadly, today, Charles Thomson has become a forgotten Founding Father, but his influence, both politically and spiritually, permanently shaped the course of America and blessed American life.

February 14, 2024 This post has been updated to correct information regarding Thomson’s American translation of the Bible. 


1 John Adams, diary entry from August 30, 1774, Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, accessed November 1, 2023.
2 John Hancock was the second and the other delegates signed weeks later. Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1779, edited from the original records in the Library of Congress by Worthington Chauncey Ford, Chief, Division of Manuscripts, Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1905, The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, accessed November 1, 2023.
3  “Original Design of the Great Seal of the United States (1782),” Milestone Documents, National Archives, updated October 23, 2023.
4 Lewis R. Harley, Charles Thomson: Patriot and Scholar (Norristown, PA: Historical Society of Montgomery County, 1897), 28-29.
5 The Holy Bible as Printed by Robert Aitken and Approved & Recommended by the Congress of the United States of America in 1782, reprinted (New York: Arno Press, 1968), Introduction.
6 Harley, Charles Thomson: Patriot and Scholar (1897), 33-34.
7 George Washington to Charles Thomson, July 24, 1789, Founders Online, National Archives, accessed November 1, 2023.

John Hart Documents

John Hart was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He lived most of his life as a farmer and public official in New Jersey. This man’s Christian faith and character were as strong and evident as his patriotism. He donated a large parcel of ground on which to build the Baptist church in which he was an active member. Known as “honest John Hart” among his friends and neighbors, he was repeatedly elected to serve in both local and state offices. In his capacity as a local official, he regularly signed legal documents like these two below. These are two testimonies in the collection at WallBuilders are given by John Hart upon the administration of the estates of John Hobbs and [L. Horner]. As was customary in that day, he recognizes he was “sworn in on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God.”


John Hart Esq. one of the appraisers of the within inventory being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God did depose that the goods and chattels and credits in the said inventory set down and specified were by him appraised according to those just and true respective [Goofert] and [Yaxely] after the best of his judgment and understanding and that William Bryant the other appraiser and whose name is hereunto subscribed every prof. of the same and consented in all things in the doing thereof and that they appraised all things that were brought to their view for appraisement.

Sworn the 24th day of March 1757

John Hart

Theo. Severns Jun.



John Hart Esq. one of the appraisers of the within inventory being sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God did depose that the within writings contains a true and perfect inventory of the goods and chattels of John Hobbs which were by him appraised according to their just and true respective [Earley] and [Valicey] according to the best of his judgment and understanding and that Joseph Powell consented in all things in the doing thereof and that they apprised all things that were brought to their view for appraisement.

Sworn the 24th day of March 1757

John Hart

Theo. Severns Jun.