As we celebrate July 4th, we need to remember those who risked their lives for our independence. When these men signed the Declaration it was everyone in England to see that they were supporting and declaring military action against England. After signing they could not deny where they stood and what their intentions were in the future.
The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in May 1775, they created the Continental Army and appointed George Washington as commander. They also adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared the colonies would be free and independent states.
Let’s remember those men who represented South Carolina and had the courage to sign their name to the Declaration of Independence.
South Carolina was represented by four delegates Thomas Lynch, Sr., Thomas Heyward, Jr., Edward Rutledge, and Arthur Middleton. Only three of the four actually signed the Declaration of Independence, as there were some unforeseen circumstances that occurred which led to there being a blank space be left in the Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Lynch, Sr. (1727-1779) was a rice planter and South Carolina delegate suffered a stroke in 1776. He was unable to sign the Declaration in Aug. 1776, the other delegates left space so he could sign the Declaration when he returned, unfortunately, while traveling home in December of 1776, Lynch suffered a second stroke and died.
Thomas Lynch, Jr. (1749-1779)
Thomas Lynch, Jr. was the only child of Thomas Lynch, Sr., the younger Lynch was born at Hopsewee Plantation, one of his family’s seven plantations along the Santee River.
While Lynch was serving as a Captain in the SC militia his father suffered the stroke and in order to help his ailing father he was appointed as a delegate to the Continental Congress at the age of 26 in 1776. After signing the Declaration Lynch came down with malaria and suffered from poor health thereafter. He was heading to France to look into the possibility of treatment for his recurring malaria but the ship never made it as the ship was lost at sea, taking the lives of the 30-year-old Lynch, his wife and all the other passengers and crew.
Thomas Heyward, Jr. (1746-1809)
Heyward was a wealthy planter and lawyer who was selected as a delegate to the Continental congress where he voted for independence and signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1778, he returned to the state and accepted a commission as Captain in the South Carolina militia. Heyward was captured when Charles Town (Charleston) fell, he was held as a prisoner in St. Augustine until July 1781. After his release, he served as a circuit judge and died in 1809.
Edward Rutledge (1749-1800)
Rutledge was born in Charleston and studied law at Oxford University. He had a successful law practice with Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and was also captured during the siege of Charleston. He was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence (4 months younger than Lynch) and later went on to become the Governor of South Carolina.
Arthur Middleton (1742-1787)
Arthur Middleton was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1742. He was educated in England and graduated from Cambridge in 1773. In 1776 he was a delegate to the Continental Congress. He was captured by the British when Charleston was overrun in 1781 and was held prisoner for more than a year. Most of his fortune was destroyed during the Revolution. He was engaged in politics until his death on the first of January, 1787. His eldest son Henry later became Governor.