There is not much known about the early life of John Hart, signer of Declaration of Independence. It is supposed that he was born about 1714 when the reign of Queen Anne closed. John's father, Edward Hart, was a thrifty farmer who was also a loyal subject of the King of England. In 1759 he raised a group of volunteers known as "The Jersey Blues" who went to Quebec in time to see England claim victory there. He returned to his farm and lived out his life well respected by the people.
John also became a farmer of independent means. His attention became focused when the British passed the Stamp Act, and he became sympathetic to those living under the oppression in Boston and other areas. Even though he lived in a rural area, he was well educated in public affairs both in America and abroad. He joined with others in his area to elected delegates to the Colonial Congress meeting in New York City in 1765.
John continued to be active in the cause of liberty and was elected as a delegate to the first Continental Congress in 1774. He was re-elected in 1775 but resigned and retired from public life for a time in order to apply his efforts to his estate and family affairs. He nevertheless accepted a seat in the Provincial Congress of New Jersey and even served as Vice President of that body.
The colonies needed the valuable talents of John Hart too much for him to stay retired. Recognizing the importance of liberty, he accepted the position of delegate to the General Congress in 1776. There he voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence.
John's signature on the Declaration of Independence showed that he was openly hostile to Britain, and he was marked for vengeance. When British and the Hessians invaded New Jersey, Mr. Hart's estate was among the first to feel the fury of the enemy. John's family had enough notice of the approach of the British that they were able to flee to safety, but "his farm was ravaged, his timber destroyed, his cattle and stock butchered for the use of the British army, and he himself was hunted like a noxious beast, not daring to remain two nights under the same roof. And it was not until Washington's success at the battle of Trenton, that this dreadful state of himself and family was ended."
John lost his fortune and his health. He did not live long enough to see his country obtain peace and independence. He died in 1780 in the "gloomiest period of the War of Independence." If he were born in 1714, he died at approximately age 66, well-loved and respected by all who knew him.
Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp 87-89.
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