We all know the common names of the authors and signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Names such as Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and of course Hancock are all synonymous with this historic document.  Not only did they craft the document that would announce to England that America was declaring independence but it meant that the signers committed treason. They were all subjects of Great Britain and they now declared to be independent and would no longer obey the laws of their home land.  In essence, they signed their own death warrants.

While some of the signers of the Declaration are etched in American history and later went on to create the Constitution of the United States, the majority of the fifty-six Declaration signers have been lost in history.  Each was unique but each had one commonality, they felt that a new nation was possible where men lived free and they would be allowed to pursue their dreams unencumbered by class standing.

One of the little known signers was John Witherspoon.  Witherspoon was a Scottish born Presbyterian minister.  He sailed to America to become president of the College of New Jersey; now Princeton.  He was influential in American education and was famous for intimidating both students and peers.

He was one of the early member of the Continental Congress and was a staunch supporter for independence.  When an individual stated that America was not yet ripe for independence, Witherspoon commented,  “In my judgment, sir, we are not only ripe, but rotting.”  During the Highlander uprising in Scotland he was captured and imprisoned thus his fervor for freedom from England was embellished in his psyche.  When the signing of the Declaration of Independence took place he was the only clergyman to ink the document.

Once war broke out Witherspoon experienced the horrors of treason and the sad reality of being a patriot.  His oldest son joined the continental army,  rose to major and was killed in the battle of Germantown.  Later that year his home was burned to the ground by the British soldiers. 

He continued to serve his new country following the end of the Revolutionary War.  Princeton had been badly damaged during the battle there.  He spent two years to help repair the damage.  Witherspoon also became a member of the New Jersey convention that was convened to ratify the constitution.

Several years after the end of the war in 1789 Witherspoon’s wife died.  She was the mother of ten Witherspoon children.  Witherspoon was then 66 years old.  Two years later at 68 Witherspoon married a 24-year old widow.  He died in 1794 but not before fathering two more children.

This is only one of the fifty-six signers of our Declaration of Independence and characterizes the character of the individuals that forged our country.






If a group of people held an open meeting and this group represented subversive organizations from each state and the purpose of the meeting was to design a method to overthrow the government of the United States; this group would be summarily disbanded and the members arrested and brought to trial for sedition. Two hundred and thirty five years ago this is exactly what happened when the founding fathers of the United States met to throw off the yokes of English rule and declare the thirteen colonies to be free and sovereign. Today we are so conscious about being politically correct and so concerned to speak up for what is right because of fear of retribution, it is hard to imagine the leadership of the men that met in Philadelphia to declare and then publicly sign a document that would surely be used to sentence each signatory to death. This document, The Declaration of Independence, symbolized the strength of character of America that had lead to our growth to become the greatest country in the world. One of the signers of this document was Charles Carol of Maryland. Carol was depicted in the movie “National Treasures” as being the last living signer of the Declaration and the last surviving Mason that held the secret to the vast treasure of the Knights Templar. In fact the only thing factual about this was that he was the last surviving signatory but he could not have held the Masonic secret to the treasure as he was Catholic and could not have been a member of the Masonic Lodge. Carol was born in Maryland and was sent to France to study. This surely affected his early impressions of the English as there was continual animosity between the two countries. Following his education in France he attended law school in London and returned to America. Maryland law was quite explicit when it came to religion. Catholics could not practice law, enter into politics nor vote. Needless to say this would make quit an impression on a young member of the Continental Congress when the subject of separation of church and state was debated. Carol was successful in business and became one of the wealthiest men in Maryland. When he was selected to represent Maryland in the Continental Congress, he had more to lose than the majority of the members. None the less he vocally advocated overthrowing the shackles of King George by the use of force. He was not present for the vote to accept the Declaration of Independence. He was there to sign the document and he did not hesitate to do so. Several members spoke up that there were many Charles Carols in Maryland and it would be easy for the signer to claim it was not him that signed the document if they were arrested and put on trial. He defiantly returned to the Chairman, John Hancock, took the quill pen and added to his name “of Carrolton” to make sure that everyone knew who he was and where he was from. He was vocal on slavery and later put in legislation to abolish it. It would take ninety years before this was realized. This strength of leadership is what helped to build our country. Question is, do we possess this same strength in our government leadership today. Do we have the leaders with the intestinal fortitude to do what is right for the country and are we as Americans willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the nation. So impressive was Charles Carol that many settlements were named in his honor. Our own East Carol and West Carol Parishes bear his name.