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Look Who’s Related: The Signers of the Declaration of Independence

On July 4 the United States celebrates Independence Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. In July 1776, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject to British rule under King George III and were now free, independent states. In celebration of the holiday, we take a look at a few of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and how they are related to each other and other notable figures in Geni’s World Family Tree.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

Before declaring independence, a Committee of Five was charged with drafting a Declaration of Independence. The Committee was comprised of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Jefferson is considered to be the primary author the Declaration of Independence. Adams and Jefferson would be the only two signers of the Declaration of Independence that would go on to serve as President of the United States. Adams served as the second, while Jefferson served as the third President of the United States. The two presidents were also 10th cousins once removed. By coincidence, they also both died on the same day on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Benjamin Franklin and Edward Rutledge

The oldest delegate to sign the Declaration of Independence was Benjamin Franklin, who was 70 years old. The youngest was Edward Rutledge of South Carolina. He was 26. Franklin and Rutledge were 12th cousins twice removed.

Thomas Lynch, Jr. and Edward Rutledge

Rutledge beat Thomas Lynch, Jr. for the title of youngest signatory by just 4 months. Another delegate from South Carolina, Lynch also Rutledge’s sister-in-law’s husband and 9th cousins twice removed! Fun fact: Lynch and his father, Thomas Lynch, were the only father and son duo to serve concurrently in the Continental Congress. However, his father did not sign the Declaration of Independence due to illness.

James Adams and Samuel Adams

The most notable pair of close relatives to sign the document was John Adams and Samuel Adams. Today are both remembered as Founding Fathers of the United States. Although Samuel Adams did not participate in the Boston Tea Party, he played a significant role in organizing it and his ability to galvanize public support has been considered pivotal to the success of the protest. They were also second cousins.

Robert L. Livingston and Philip Livingston

Robert L. Livingston was the only person in the Committee of Five to not sign the Declaration of Independence. However, his first cousin once removed, Philip Livingston, was present to sign the historic document.

John Hancock and King George III

John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress, was the first person to sign his name on the Declaration of Independence. According to legend, he signed his name largely and clearly so that King George III could read it without his spectacles. According to Geni’s World Family Tree, Hancock and the British monarch were 12th cousins once removed.

Check out the Signers of the Declaration of Independence project to find a list of all 56 signatories and try your hand at finding more fun relationship paths on Geni!

The post Look Who’s Related: The Signers of the Declaration of Independence first appeared on The Geni Blog.


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