John Morton (1725 – April 1, 1777) was a farmer, surveyor, and jurist from the Province of Pennsylvania and a Founding Father of the United States. As a delegate to the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, he was a signatory to the Continental Association and the United States Declaration of Independence. Morton provided the swing vote that allowed Pennsylvania to vote in favor of the United States Declaration of Independence.
Born in Ridley Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania (present-day Delaware County), he was given a sound education in practical matters and in surveying by his stepfather. Morton was elected to the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly in 1756. The following year he was also appointed justice of the peace, an office he held until 1764. He served as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. He resigned from the Assembly in 1766 to serve as sheriff of Chester County. He returned to the Assembly in 1769 and was elected Speaker in 1775. Meanwhile, his judicial career reached its pinnacle with his appointment as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1774.
Morton was elected to the First Continental Congress in 1774 and the Second Continental Congress in 1775. He cautiously helped move Pennsylvania towards independence, though he opposed the radical Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776. When in June 1776 Congress began the debate on a resolution of independence, the Pennsylvania delegation was split, with Benjamin Franklin and James Wilson in favor of declaring independence, and John Dickinson and Robert Morris opposed. Morton was uncommitted until July 1, when he sided with Franklin and Wilson. When the final vote was taken on July 2, Dickinson and Morris abstained, allowing the Pennsylvania delegation to support the resolution of independence. Morton signed the Declaration on August 2 with most of the other delegates.
Morton chaired the committee that wrote the Articles of Confederation before dying in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania in April 1777. The first signer of the Declaration of Independence to die, he was buried in Old St. Paul's Church Burial Ground (also known as the Old Swedish Burial Ground) in the city of Chester, Pennsylvania.