The ancestors of John Morton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, came from Sweden in the early part of the seventeenth century and settled close to Philadelphia along the Delaware River. John was born in 1724, the only child of his father, who died before his son was born. While John was still an infant, his mother married a gentleman from England who accepted John as his own son. John's step-father was a highly educated and good practical surveyor who taught John mathematics and other elements of a good education.
John's first public office was his appointment to be justice of the peace in 1764. He was later chosen as a delegate to the General Assembly for Pennsylvania where his public services were vastly appreciated. He was a delegate to the "Stamp Act Congress" in 1765, and he was made county sheriff in 1766.
John was active in the patriots' cause of liberty. After the battle in Lexington, he was offered the opportunity to be commander of a newly formed military corps in Pennsylvania, but he declined the offer because of other public duties. He was the presiding Judge of the Quarter Sessions and Common Pleas and was appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court about the same period of time.
Morton was appointed in 1774 to be a Pennsylvania delegate to the General Congress, and he was re-elected in both 1775 and 1776. John was present on July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was adopted. In fact, the delegates from Pennsylvania were divided about whether or not to declare independence: two delegates were absent, two were against independence, and two were in favor of the declaration. John cast the deciding vote for Pennsylvania. His vote in favor of the declaration produced a positive vote for Pennsylvania and a unanimous vote of the Colonies for independence. He signed the Declaration of Independence in August 1776.
John died without seeing the blessings of peace and independence of America. He died in April 1777 at age 54 and left a widow with a large number of children.
Facts are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 112-113.
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