by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
North Carolina has three signatories to the Declaration of Independence, William Hooper, John Penn, and Joseph Hewes. Interestingly enough, none of the North Carolina signers were native North Carolinians. William Hooper was originally from Boston, Massachusetts; John Penn was from Caroline County, Virginia; and Joseph Hewes was from just outside of Kingston, New Jersey. However, each of these men moved to North Carolina at some point prior to being appointed to the Second Continental Congress in 1775 and signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Prior to the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, both William Hooper and Joseph Hewes had been appointed to the First Continental Congress in 1774. Preceding even that, Hewes had served as a member of the Committee of Correspondence in the providence, which preceded the First Continental Congress in intercolonial aid and cooperation and set the stage for summoning the First Continental Congress. During the Second Continental Congress, Hooper served on the Committee to draft the Declaration of Independence with Jefferson.
While all were members of the Second Continental Congress, only Hewes was there both for the July 2, 1776 vote to break away from England as well as the July 4, 1776 adoption of the Declaration of Independence. John Penn was absent from the July 2nd vote but was there for the July 4th adoption, and William Hooper voted on July 2nd but was not there for the July 4th adoption. Hooper later signed the document on August 2, 1776, almost a month after its adoption.
Outside of the Declaration of Independence, these men went on to serve their country and the state of North Carolina in many ways. Hewes represented North Carolina in the Continental Congress until his death in 1790; William Hooper served in the North Carolina General Assembly until 1783 and helped establish a state government; and John Penn later went on to sign the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States of America.
*Image courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC.