Morton, John, 1725-1777

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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.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Edward Wanton Smith papers, 1681-1971 Haverford College Library
referencedIn Willard, Henry A. (Henry Augustus), 1902-. Henry A. Willard II collection, 1743-1888 (bulk 1770-1840). Library of Congress
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library
creatorOf Morton, John, ca. 1724-1777. Land survey, 1755. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Signers collection, 1770-1826. Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library
creatorOf Pennsylvania. Bank note, 1772 April 3, Philadelphia. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Morton, John, ca. 1724-1777. Autograph letter signed, 1766 Nov. 11. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Morton, John, ca. 1724-1777. DS, 1776 July 8 : In Assembly, to David Johnston. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
creatorOf Morton, John, 1724-1777. Document, 1770. Washington State University, Holland and Terrell Libraries
creatorOf Morton, John, ca. 1724-1777. Autograph signature to a legal document, 1774 Nov. 29. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Henry A. Willard II Collection, 1743-1888, (bulk 1770-1840) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Morton, John, ca. 1724-1777. Autograph recognizance of Henry Schriber, 1773 Oct. 27. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Pennsylvania. General Assembly. House of Representatives. Certificate of allowance, 1776 Sept. 26. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library
creatorOf Morton, John, ca. 1724-1777. Autograph signature to Lieutenant's Commission, 1775 Sept. 21. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Letters and documents of signers of the Declaration of Independence, 1750-1933. Houghton Library
creatorOf Morton, John, ca. 1724-1777. Autograph signature to a tax paper, 1773 Oct. 27. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Morton, John, ca. 1724-1777. Autograph signature to deed, 1774 Nov. 29. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Rosenbach, A. S. W. (Abraham Simon Wolf), 1876-1952,. Signers of the Declaration of Independence autograph collection, 1756-1818. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Morton, John, ca. 1724-1777. Signed act of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, 1776 March 16. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Thomas Addis Emmet collection, 1483-1876 (bulk:1700-1800) New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection (University of Virginia) corporateBody
associatedWith Dearborn, Frederick M. (Frederick Myers), b. 1876 person
associatedWith Emmet, Thomas Addis person
associatedWith Hubbard, John, collector. person
associatedWith Johnston, David. person
associatedWith Jones, Andrew, person
associatedWith Jones, Jacob, person
associatedWith Moore, James. person
associatedWith Parker, William. person
associatedWith Pemberton, Israel, 1715-1779. person
associatedWith Penn, John, 1729-1795 person
associatedWith Pennsylvania. corporateBody
associatedWith Pennsylvania. General Assembly. House of Representatives. corporateBody
memberOf Pennsylvania. Supreme Court corporateBody
associatedWith Rosenbach, A. S. W. (Abraham Simon Wolf), 1876-1952, person
associatedWith Shippen, Joseph, 1728 or 9-1806 person
associatedWith Smith, Edward Wanton, 1875-1940, person
associatedWith United States. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army corporateBody
memberOf United States. Continental Congress corporateBody
associatedWith Willard, Henry A. (Henry Augustus), 1902- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Township of Ridley PA US
Township of Ridley PA US
Subject
Oaths
Occupation
Delegates, U.S. Continental Congress
Farmers
Jurists
Surveyors
Activity

Person

Birth 1725

Death 1777-04-01

Male

Americans,

Britons

English

Information

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