Samuel Huntington, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, began life as a humble ploughboy, but he used his natural abilities to achieve greatness. He was loved and respected by all who knew him. He was born into a family that was among the earliest settlers of Connecticut. He was born on July 2, 1732, in Windham, Connecticut.
Samuel's father was a hard-working farmer, but he was not able to give his son more than the common education available from the schools in his neighborhood. Samuel was a good student with a very active mind and did not let the obstacles stand in his way. He gained a "tolerable knowledge" of Latin and commenced his study of law at age 22. He did not have a teacher and had to borrow books, but he was mastered the difficulties of law and obtained a good law practice before he was thirty years old.
Samuel married Martha Devotion in 1761 when she was 22 years old and he was about 30. The couple did not have any children of their own but adopted, reared, and educated two children born to his brother, Rev. Joseph Huntington.
In 1764, Samuel was elected to the General Assembly of Connecticut and was chosen to be a member of the council the next year. He was able to maintain the confidence and esteem of his constituents no matter what his official station was.
Samuel was appointed in 1774 to be Associate Judge of the Superior Court, and he was appointed in 1775 to be one of the Connecticut delegates to the General Congress. He had the "glorious privilege" of voting for and signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He spent nearly five years as a member of the Congress and was considered to be one of the most active participants there. He was "stern and unbending" in his integrity and patriotism and was appointed President of Congress (the highest office in the nation at that time) because of his "sound judgment and untiring industry." He retired reluctantly from Congress in 1781 due to ill health.
Samuel returned to Connecticut and continued his duties on the Council and on the Bench. He went back to Congress in 1783 but returned to Connecticut late in the year. He was soon appointed to be Chief Justice of the Connecticut Superior Court. He was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1785 and promoted to Chief Magistracy in 1786. He held this office until his death.
Governor Huntington was a thoughtful and modest man. He talked little but was very decisive. When he had completed his investigation and made a decision, he never turned from it. He was a devoted Christian and a true patriot.
Samuel passed away in Norwich on January 5, 1796, at the age of 65, two years after the death of his wife. They are resting side by side in the old Norwich burying ground.
Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp 53-55.
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