Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eleanor Armor Smith

Eleanor Armor Smith married James Smith, signer of the Declaration of Independence, in 1745 or 1746. She was "a young woman of many accomplishments and good family connection" when she married the young land surveyor and lawyer who had recently moved from Shippenburg. James was the first attorney to practice law in York and led the bar association until after the Revolution.

James was born in Ireland and came to America as a child with his father. He lived along the Susquehanna River, was educated in Philadelphia, and studied law with an older brother in Lancaster. He started practicing law in Shippenburg but moved to York several years later in order that his family might "have the advantages of a larger and more thickly settled community."

James and Eleanor were parents of five children, three sons and two daughters. Important dates in the lives of the family - their date of marriage and birthdays of family members - are all uncertain. James would never tell anyone his age. He had wit and humor and enjoyed telling stories and happy companionships.

Long before the beginning of the Revolutionary War, James had strong views about the "encroachment of the British ministry on the rights of the Colonies." He served on the Provincial Committee of Safety. He also served in the Continental Congress from 1775 until 1778.

Letters from Smith to Eleanor show that he had "confidence in her ability to take care of their home affairs and an air of affectionate comradeship."

James died in 1806, and his tombstone says that he was ninety-three years old. He and Eleanor are both buried in York.

Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 197-202.

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