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, November 2, 2011

Anne Clark Hooper

                    Anne Clark married William Hooper, signer of the Declaration of Independence, in 1767.  She was the daughter of Thomas Clark, Esq. and the sister of Thomas Clark, Jr. who later became General of the U.S. Army. 

William Hooper was a "brilliant young lawyer from Boston" who had recently established a law practice in Wilmington, North Carolina.  He was a graduate of Harvard University and a former student of James Otis; he spent several months visiting the South before settling in Wilmington.

The following was written about Anne:  "His choice was most fortunate, considered in reference to the qualifications of the lady to adorn and sweeten social and domestic life.  It was most fortunate, too, considered in reference to that firmness of mind which enabled her to sustain without repining the grievous privations and distresses to which she became peculiarly exposed in consequence of the prominent station which Mr. Hooper held in the War of the Revolution."

Before William joined the patriot cause of liberty, he traveled great distances between courts on bad roads.  "Times were prosperous, and the dissipation which arose out of an excess of hospitality exhibited an even more animated picture in the surrounding country.  Whole families and sometimes several families together were in the practice of making visits, and, like the tents of the Arabs, seemed continually on the move.  The number of visitants, the noise and bustle of arriving and greeting, the cries of the poultry yard, and the bleatings from the pasture would require some sounding polysyllables to convey an idea of the joyous uproar….  Every visit was a sort of jubilee.  Festive entertainment, balls, every species of amusement which song and dance could afford, were resorted to. The sports of the turf and the pleasure of the chase were alternately the objects of eager pursuit.  Everywhere on the eastern and western branches of the Cape Fear River were men of fortune, related to one another by blood or marriage, whose settlements extended almost as far as the lowlands of Crossneck."

Hooper traveled from court to court with these "hospitable, happy-go-lucky, fox-chasing, horse-racing planters," and the party would spend a week or so in each place.  He worked hard during the day and was well entertained when out of court.  The experience was difficult because of his "frail constitution," but he had "a lucrative practice" where he was able to accumulate money.

William became active in politics when he was elected to the Legislature in 1773.  He was a delegate to the Continental Congress 1774-1777, but he received a leave of absence in early 1777 to return home to care for his family.

When William went to Congress, he left his family in Wilmington.  His activities as well as his signature on the Declaration of Independence were quite offensive to the British, and the British destroyed his property "on frequent occasions."  A British captain sailed about three miles up Cape Fear River from Wilmington in order to shell a Hooper house.  Mrs. Hooper "moved her family from Wilmington back to their plantation, about eight miles.  "The brutal David Fanning who raided Hillsborough treated Mrs. Hooper and her family with rudeness amounting to downright cruelty."  Because they were "constantly harassed," William moved them back to Wilmington.  When Wilmington was evacuated, William moved his family to a permanent home in Hillsborough.

William's health was so badly broken that he gave up his law practice and other duties in 1778, and Anne accepted the responsibility of running the plantation.  William passed away in 1790, leaving a widow and three young children - two sons and one daughter:  Elizabeth (married Hillsborough business man named Watters); William Hooper (the eldest son, married and had several children who became prominent; one of them was Rev. William Hooper, Professor of Languages in the North Carolina University and a writer); no mention was made of the younger son.

Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers:  The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 258-262.   

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