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.

Monday, July 4, 2011

George Taylor

George Taylor, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Ireland; he came to America in 1716. His father was a clergyman, but his religion is not known. George was rich in education but poor in material goods when he arrived in America. He at first "performed menial service for a livelihood," but he later became a clerk for Mr. Savage in his iron establishment in Durham, Pennsylvania. About a year after Mr. Savage's death, George married his widow and became owner of "considerable property and a thriving business."

He worked at the Durham business for some time and acquired "a handsome fortune" before he purchased an estate on the Lehigh River in Northumberland county. There he erected another iron works. He soon gained the "esteem and confidence of the people" because of his "wealth, education, and business talents" as well as his "urbanity of manner." He was elected as a delegate to the Colonial Assembly in 1764 where he "soon became a distinguished actor" and a member of a committee with the responsibility to write "the instructions for the delegates from that Province." It is said that he wrote the instructions with his own pen and that they were filled with "wisdom and sound judgment."

Taylor continued as a delegate to the Provincial Assembly for five straight years before declining further service in order to care for his private interests. He was again elected to the Provincial Congress in 1775 and was appointed to the committee with instructions to write the instructions for the delegates to the General Congress scheduled to meet in May of that year. The instructions did not receive Assembly approval until November 1775, but they included a clause that strictly prohibited "the delegates from concurring in any proposition for political independence" because of a hope for reconciliation with England. The prohibition was removed in June 1776 after "public feeling" changed, and the delegates were given permission "to act according to their own discretion." Some of the delegates were still anxious for reconciliation and were replaced with Taylor being one of the replacements. Because he came to the Assembly late, Taylor was not present when the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, but he arrived in time to sign it on August 2, 1776.

George continued as a member of Congress for one year before retiring from public life and settling in Easton. He died at age 65 on February 23, 1781.

Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 123-125.

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