George Ross, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in 1730 in New Castle, Delaware. His father was a highly esteemed Episcopalian minister who was highly educated. George was instructed by his father and became very proficient in Latin and Greek. When he was eighteen and still a student, he started working in the law office of his brother John who was a "respectable" member of the bar in Philadelphia. When George was twenty-one, he was admitted to the bar and started practicing law in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There he married a young woman named Ann Lawler on August 14, 1751. They were parents of two sons and a daughter.
Ross began his public life in 1768 at age 38 when he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly; he was re-elected several times. When the colonists began to feel heat from the British regulations, George sided with the patriot cause of liberty. He was adamant about the need to hold a General Congress and was chosen as one of the seven delegates from Pennsylvania while at the same time remaining a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly. As an elected official in the Pennsylvania Assembly, he was directed to write the instructions for the Pennsylvania delegates to the General Congress. His fellow-citizens respected Ross so much that they voted to give him one hundred and fifty pounds sterling as a gift; he courteously refused the gift due to patriotism.
George served in the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1777 and spent nearly all of his time and effort on public business, either in the Pennsylvania Assembly or the General Congress. He strongly supported the resolution of Richard Henry Lee proposing independence from England. He "joyfully" signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776.
Ross had great empathy for the remnants of the Indian tribes in his area and worked to make sure that their conditions were improved and that justice was given to them. He was assigned to be a mediator in difficulties with the Indians by both the State Legislature and the General Congress. He did not limit his empathy and help to the Indians but helped whenever he saw "weakness" being "trodden down by strength." Even though people considered it next to treason to help Tories and loyalists to the Crown who were persecuted and/or imprisoned, George Ross, James Wilson and a few others were always available to plead their cases.
George was appointed to be a Judge for the Pennsylvania Court of Admiralty in April 1799. He died suddenly in his fiftieth year of age in July 1780.
Facts are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 130-132.
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