Who Said It? (7/20/15)

President Franklin D Roosevelt, Speech to the Democratic National Convention, accepting the nomination for a fourth term  (Chicago, July 20, 1944)

fdr03

 

It is good that we are all getting that broader vision. For we shall need it after the war. The isolationists and the ostriches who plagued our thinking before Pearl Harbor are becoming slowly extinct. The American people now know that all Nations of the world- large and small- will have to play their appropriate part in keeping the peace by force, and in deciding peacefully the disputes which might lead to war.

We all know how truly the world has become one- that if Germany and Japan, for example, were to come through this war with their philosophies established and their armies intact, our own grandchildren would again have to be fighting in their day for their liberties and their lives.

Source and Complete Text:  Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Address to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.,” July 20, 1944. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

Franklin D. Roosevelt made this address in Chicago after accepting the nomination for a unprecedented fourth term in office, which he won in November 1944.

Read more about Roosevelt, his administration and World War II in Don’t Know Much About History, Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents, and THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR.

 

 

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5, 2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5, 2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hachette Paperback)

Don't Know Much About History (Revised, Expanded and Updated Edition)

Don’t Know Much About History (Revised, Expanded and Updated Edition)

Don’t Know Much About® the “Trinity” Test

A spacecraft the size of a grand piano –launched in 2006– sent back a sort of selfie from space of Pluto –from a distance of 3 billion miles.

The latest color image of Pluto shows a bright, heart-shaped terrain. NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The latest color image of Pluto shows a bright, heart-shaped terrain. NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

This was an astonishing technological feat extending the human desire to know and explore to the edges of the solar system.

But this amazing evidence of humanity’s prowess to understand the universe came just days before the 70th anniversary of the birth of the Atomic Age — the successful detonation of the first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945 in a New Mexico desert at a test site called “Trinity.”

The Trinity Test The photo is courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratories; it is reproduced on the front cover of Los Alamos: Beginning of an Era, 1943-1945 (Los Alamos: Public Relations Office, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, ca. 1967-1971).

The Trinity Test The photo is courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratories; it is reproduced on the front cover of Los Alamos: Beginning of an Era, 1943-1945 (Los Alamos: Public Relations Office, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, ca. 1967-1971).

General Leslie Groves, the military leader of the Manhattan Project –the secret wartime American effort to develop an atomic bomb– wrote a memo describing the test that changed history:

For a brief period there was a lighting effect within a radius of 20 miles equal to several suns in midday; a huge ball of fire was formed which lasted for several seconds. This ball mushroomed and rose to a height of over ten thousand feet before it dimmed. The light from the explosion was seen clearly at Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Silver City, El Paso and other points generally to about 180 miles away. The sound was heard to the same distance in a few instances but generally to about 100 miles.

Groves cited in his memo the words of another general who commented that day:

It was a great new force to be used for good or for evil.

Source: “Memorandum for the Secretary of War” (July 18, 1945) PBS/American Experience: “Truman

A few days later, President Truman made the fateful decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan, hoping to force the Japanese to surrender and end the war in the Pacific. That decision, which surely shortened the war, cost hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives and opened the age of atomic warfare capable of destroying humanity. Future posts will discuss Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The U.S. Department of Energy offers an interactive history of the Manhattan Project, the Trinity Test and the dropping the bombs.

You can read more about dropping of the atomic bombs and the Cold War atomic race in Don’t Know Much About History and The Hidden History of America at War.

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War (Hachette Books Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War (Hachette Books Random House Audio)

 

Friday Pop Quiz: Who was Gerald Ford’s Vice President?

Nelson A. Rockefeller (1908-1979)

Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller Meet in the Oval Office March 12, 1975 (Source: White House; photographer Ricardo THomas)

President Gerald Ford and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller Meet in the Oval Office March 12, 1975 (Source: White House; photographer Ricardo Thomas)

With the resignation of Richard M. Nixon on August 9, 1974, Vice President Gerald Ford became President.  He then nominated Rockefeller, the former governor of New York to become his vice president under the terms of the 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967 to deal with issues of presidential succession and disability.

Before ratification of the 25th Amendment, there was no constitutional mechanism for replacing a vice president who either became president or died in office. Section 2 of the Amendment reads:

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

When Spiro Agnew resigned as Nixon’s vice president in 1973, Ford became the first man to become vice president under this amendment. When Ford replaced Nixon as president, Rockefeller became the second.

I’ve known all the Vice Presidents since Henry Wallace. They were all frustrated, and some were pretty bitter. 
—Nelson Rockefeller

(Source: U.S. Senate)

Elected to four terms as Governor of New York, Rockefeller was born into the family whose wealth came from John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Company and once America’s wealthiest man. For many years, Rockefeller was among the most powerful Republican leaders and a contender for the presidency.  He had also been considered for the vice presidency several times.

Nelson Rockefeller died early in 1979 in headline-making fashion:

“On Sunday, January 27, 1979, New Yorkers awoke to the news that Nelson Rockefeller had died of a heart attack at the age of 71 while working at his office in mid-town Manhattan. In the days ahead, as dignitaries and associates sang his praises, the actual circumstances of Rockefeller’s death began to emerge: he had died in his townhouse while in the company of a young female staff assistant 45 years his junior. Her delay in calling the paramedics stirred endless speculation, leaving many questions unanswered.”

Source: American Experience (PBS) “The Rockefellers”

Who Said It? (7/13/15)

President Harry S. Truman (July 17, 1945) “Notes on the Potsdam Conference” (July 17-30, 1945)

 “I can deal with Stalin. He is honest–but smart as hell.”

President Harry S. Truman (Photo: Truman Library)

President Harry S. Truman
(Photo: Truman Library)

Source: Harry S. Truman Library and Museum  Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb Documents

The Potsdam Conference was a meeting of Truman, Churchill and Stalin that took place near Berlin after the defeat of Germany in May 1945. It was during this conference among the World War II allies that Truman learned of the successful test of the atomic bomb in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. The leader of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves, wrote an extensive description of the “Trinity” test which was sent to Truman

He would soon decide to use the bomb against Japan and inform Soviet leader Stalin of its existence. Stalin already knew about the atomic bomb and the Soviets were racing to compete their own atomic weapon. The Cold War atomic arms race was underway, and is detailed in THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR.

The Hidden History of America At War (Hachette Books Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War (Hachette Books Random House Audio)

 

“Did you know?” from THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR

1920px-Surrender_of_Lord_Cornwallis

War stories. They help shape a nation’s identity.

But if these stories sweep facts under the rug, they are ‘foundation legends,’ not history. I tell the stories our schoolbooks often leave out, the stories that don’t fit the tidy patriotic version that makes us feel proud but are not always complete or true. The real story – the “warts-and-all-version”—is always more interesting and more instructive.

Here are some “Did-you-know” facts from my newly published The Hidden History of America At War  –from the American Revolution to the War in Iraq.

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

  • George Washington gets credit for winning the American Revolution. But without the French Navy, foreign loans and sacrifices by black patriots, the cause might have been lost. Washington, a slaveholder, didn’t want black men in his army. But when he got desperate for troops he opened his ranks to black soldiers and he was impressed at how bravely they fought.
  • John Laurens isn’t a household name like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. But this “forgotten founder” helped lead the fight at the decisive battle of the American Revolution at Yorktown, Virginia, and was a voice of conscience who tried to convince George Washington, a slaveholder– to embrace abolition.
  • The son of a major slave trader, John Laurens was so intent on enlisting blacks in the military that he designed a uniform for African Americans.
  • It’s inspiring to think that patriotic “Minutemen” grabbed their trusty muskets and left their farms to whip the mighty British redcoats in the American Revolution. But that is not how the Revolution was won. George Washington was wary of the militias who often wanted and needed to get back to their shops and farms. Washington insisted on a trained, disciplined, standing army. Irish and German immigrants, out of work teenagers and African Americans filled the ranks of his Continental Army. But these “rabble” frightened the founding generation. The Minutemen and other militiamen come down in lore as patriots ready to take up arms and defend freedom. But Washington thought militias were undependable, calling them a “broken staff.”
  • Heroic images of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” don’t hint at what happened later in New Jersey when his drunken troops mutinied –he had the ringleaders executed by firing squad. Washington was a strict disciplinarian who once built high gallows and threatened to hang American deserters.
  • American troops fought bravely in securing victory over the British at Yorktown. But two overlooked factors helped defeat the British: ­disease and the burden of harboring refuges, slaves who flocked to the British in hopes of being emancipated.

    Recreation go the Redoubt # 10 at Yorktown (U.S Army War College-Army Heritage and Education Center)

    Recreation of  Redoubt # 10 at Yorktown (U.S Army War College-Army Heritage and Education Center)

  • Fear of leaving slaves in charge of the homestead kept men in Virginia and other slaveholding from joining the militia during the Revolution.
  • Washington and Jefferson made sure to collect their runaway slaves when the Revolution ended. The American Revolution was fought to protect “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” But insuring the continuation of slavery was high on the list of priorities for the new nation.
  • After the Revolution, Marquis de Lafayette had a plan to buy land where Washington could free his slaves and set an example of abolition. But Washington never took up the offer.
Civil War Commissary Cabin (Source U.S. Army War College/Heritage and Education Center)

Civil War Commissary Cabin (Source U.S. Army War College/Heritage and Education Center)

 THE CIVIL WAR

  • Military casualties in the Civil War are well documented. But also horrific are the civilian tolls in places like Petersburg, Virginia, which was the scene of a nearly yearlong siege. The situation in Petersburg got so dire for the civilians that some held macabre “Starvation Parties” with no refreshments served. Flocks of local birds disappeared and local butchers sold “mystery meat.”
  • Lincoln initially resisted letting blacks join the army during the CivilWar.  But by the end of the war, “Colored Troops” made up 10% of the Union Army.  When U.S. Colored Troops” were admitted to the Union ranks during the Civil War, they often got the dirty work such as collecting the dead bodies and were paid less than white soldiers.

THE SPANISH AMERICAN WAR

  • President William McKinley couldn’t  locate the Philippines after annexing them during the Spanish American War.
  • Water torture didn’t begain in Iraq. Americans used the “water cure,” a form of torture, in the Spanish American War. At Senate Hearings in 1902, William Taft testified about use of the “water cure” on people in the Philippines by Americans, a national scandal that reached all the way to Theodore Roosevelt’s White House.

    Theodore Roosevelt (Photo Source: NobelPrize.org)

    Theodore Roosevelt (Photo Source: NobelPrize.org)

  • Anti-­Catholic venom is an overlooked reason why WASP America wanted to liberate Cuba from Spain during the Spanish American War.
  • Black soldiers were mistakenly thought to be immune from tropical diseases. That was one reason they were sent to fight in Cuba during the Spanish American war.
  • The “Buffalo Soldiers,” who were black men, fought bravely in Cuba during the Spanish American War. But Teddy Roosevelt who led the Rough Riders got the headlines and glory‹and later revised the story of what really happened to reap self-aggrandizing benefits.
  • President William McKinley professed to have been divinely inspired to annex the Philippines and “Christianize” this largely Catholic country during the Spanish American War.
  • The great American writer Mark Twain opposed American imperialism and wrote about replacing the American flag with one featuring black stripes and skull and crossbones.
  • Racist policies surrounded Teddy Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet.” Black sailors who had served and fought on American ships since the Revolution, were kept from service except in the boiler rooms.

WORLD WAR II

  • Widespread sexual violence was inflicted on women during the Battle of Berlin. Among the causes: the practice of issuing vodka to the Red Army. The number of women raped by the Soviet troops in Berlin is estimated between 95,000 and 133,000, with as many as 10,000 deaths as a result—many from suicide; altogether two million German women are thought to have been raped by the Soviet Red Army troops.
  • The Red Army crushed the Nazis at the close of World War II but Cold War animosities kept their crucial role out of America’s “Good War” narrative.
  • General Dwight Eisenhower didn’t know the Germans had been developing atomic weapons or about the Manhattan Project when he agreed to let Stalin take Berlin.

 

vietnam

Vietnam Fire Support Base (Model) at the US Army War College- Army Heritage and Education Center

THE VIETNAM WAR

  • As President, Eisenhower weighed and then dismissed using atomic weapons in Vietnam. Seeing what devastation the atomic bombs had wreaked on Japan influenced Eisenhower to not use these weapons again, especially against an Asian country.
  • When television news reports brought the “Living Room War” of Vietnam into American homes and showed how the U.S. Government was lying, reporters became as significant as the troops.  The media let the public in on what was really going on– America was not winning the war.
  • Vietnam wasn’t only about Communism and “falling dominoes.” It was about Catholic versus Buddhist, government corruption and longstanding class differences inside Vietnam.
  • The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave President Johnson authority to widen America’s role in the Vietnam conflict, was drafted weeks before the questionable attack on American ships– which triggered the resolution.
  • The My Lai Massacre received wide media attention but purported atrocities and the killing of as many as 3,000 Vietnamese in the city of Hue got little notice.

THE WAR IN IRAQ

  • The battle for Fallujah exposed how little Americans knew about who was fighting the war in Iraq. “Handsome Johnny” had been replaced as a fighter as the war was being outsourced to private, for-profit contractors in Iraq in an unprecedented way. The American troops were once referred to as a “junior partner” in the war effort.

 

© 2015 Kenneth C. Davis All rights reserved

The Hidden History of America At War (Hachette Books Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War (Hachette Books Random House Audio)

Kirkus Review-The Hidden History of America At War

KIRKUS REVIEW

Six turning points in military history and American democracy.

Don’t Know Much About… series author Davis (America’s Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation, 2008, etc.) begins with the 1781 battle that decided the American Revolution. In Yorktown and its aftermath, we learn that George Washington favored a large standing army, despite the insistence of many that a diffuse corps of “citizen soldiers” would be a better safeguard of democracy. From Yorktown, the author moves to the 1864 Battle of Petersburg, Virginia. Davis defines specific moments when the U.S. military’s role and self-image changed significantly. His stories are always analytically rigorous, and thus he describes at length the so-called “water cure” as it was employed as a method of torture by Americans during the Spanish-American War. Throughout the book, the author is careful to emphasize the critical role of African-Americans, both in the acknowledged triumphs of groups like the U.S. Colored Troops and in the disgraces visited upon black servicemen. Davis also makes sure to give voice to the fact that the actions of the Greatest Generation were not always so valiant. Russians were not the only soldiers who left a swath of brutalized women in their wake. While the Americans were not given the same license as Soviet troops avenging more than 25 million casualties, they still committed crimes. Davis’ chapter on Vietnam offers a damning view of a military beset by those more interested in “management” than “leadership”—e.g., Gen. William Westmoreland. In the final chapter, on Fallujah, the author discusses the sickening scene of charred American mercenaries hanging from a bridge, failures of military policy, and a sense that the best military in the world is only as good as its civilian leadership.

Complete Text of Review

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5,2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5, 2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

Starred PW Review of “The Hidden History of America At War”

The first critical review of my book, The Hidden History of America At War: Untold Tales from Yorktown to Fallujah appeared in  a “Starred Review” in Publishers Weekly.

“His searing analyses and ability to see the forest as well as the trees make for an absorbing and infuriating read as he highlights the strategic missteps, bad decisions, needless loss of life, horrific war crimes, and political hubris that often accompany war.”

Please read the full review here

atwar

“War Stories”-The Hidden History of America At War

This video is a brief introduction to my new book, THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR: Untold Tales from Yorktown to Fallujah (published May 5, 2015 by Hachette Books and Random House Audio)

“His searing analyses and ability to see the forest as well as the trees make for an absorbing and infuriating read as he highlights the strategic missteps, bad decisions, needless loss of life, horrific war crimes, and political hubris that often accompany war.”

–Publishers Weekly *Starred Review Link Full Review 

More Advance Praise for THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5,2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5, 2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

 

 

“There’s only one person who can top Kenneth C. Davis—and that’s Kenneth C. Davis. With The Hidden History of America at War, he’s composed yet another brilliant, thought-provoking, and compelling book. . . Davis offers a hard-hitting and sometimes critical look at some of the most consequential wartime decisions made by presidents and policy makers, but his admiration and respect for the men and women who have served and sacrificed so much for this nation is unwavering.”

—Andrew Carroll, editor of the New York Times-bestsellers War Letters and Behind the Lines

“With his trademark storytelling flair, Kenneth C. Davis illuminates six critical, but often overlooked battles that helped define America’s character and its evolving response to conflict. This fascinating and strikingly insightful book is a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand our nation’s bloody history of war.”

—Eric Jay Dolin, author of Leviathan and When America First Met China

“A fascinating exploration of war and the myths of war. Kenneth C. Davis shows how interesting the truth can be.”

—Evan Thomas, New York Times-bestselling author of Sea of Thunder and John Paul Jones

Whatever Became of 56 Signers? (11 of 11)

declaration_numbers

The Declaration Mural by Barry Faukner (National Archives)

Key to Numbers in Mural 

Last part of a series on the lives of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. (YES following the entry means the signer owned slaves; a NO means he did not own slaves.)

…We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes , and our Sacred Honor.declaration_of_independence_630

 

A New England slaver. A forgotten founder who died in debt and disgrace. A college president. A legendary bullet maker. Jefferson’s teacher –and a murder victim. Last but not least among the 56 signers.

-William Whipple (New Hampshire) Usually described as a 46 year old merchant, he was more precisely a sea captain who made a fortune sailing between Africa and the West Indies — in other words, the slave trade. He also owned slaves and one of those people, known as Prince, accompanied Whipple throughout his illustrious career as an officer in the Revolution. It was thought that Prince was the black man depicted in the famous “Washington Crossing the Delaware” painting, but that is not accurate because Prince and Whipple were far from  the action that night. Whipple later served in a variety of state offices in New Hampshire and legally manumitted Prince –who also went by the name of Caleb Quotum — in  1784. Whipple died in Portsmouth in 1785. YES

-William Williams (Connecticut) A 45 year old merchant, he was a veteran of the French and Indian War who had married the daughter of Connecticut’s Royal Governor. He was not present for the July vote but signed the Declaration and was a tireless supporter of the war effort. After a long career in public service, he died in 1811, aged 71. NO

-James Wilson (Pennsylvania) Scottish born, he was a 33 year old lawyer at the time of the signing and one of the most important Founding Fathers you probably never heard of. A key supporter of the Declaration, he was among the signers and Philadelphia elites who were attacked in Wilson’s home during the war in a riot over food prices and scarcity. He was also a key member of the Constitutional Convention, credited with several significant compromises. Although hopeful to be made Chief Justice of the new Supreme Court, he was appointed an associate by Washington. But land speculation ruined him and he ended up in debtor’s prison, like his colleague Robert (corrected from earlier version) Morris (See previous post #7) before his death in disgrace at age 55 in 1798, an embarrassment to his Federalists friends and colleagues. NO

-John Witherspoon (New Jersey) Another profoundly influential immigrant, the Scottish born minister was 53 year old president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) where his hatred of the British influenced many students including notable schoolmates Aaron Burr and James Madison. He lost a son at the battle of Germantown in 1777 but continued his career in Congress. After the war, he attempted to rebuild the college and was a prime mover in the growth and organization of the Presbyterian Church. He died in 1794 in Princeton, where the is buried, at age 71.  YES

-Oliver Wolcott (Connecticut) A 49 year old lawyer, he was a veteran of the French and Indian War who was not present for the vote and signed at a later date. Wolcott was in New York when Washington’s troops tore down a statue of King George III after hearing the Declaration of Independence read. He is credited with the plan to melt down the lead statue and turn it into bullets for the war effort.  He served in the Connecticut militia during the Revolution and held a series of state posts after the war including as governor of Connecticut at his death in 1797 , aged 71. YES

-George Wythe (Virginia) A 50 year old lawyer, he made his greatest mark as a teacher of law to Thomas Jefferson at the College of William and Mary –as well as later students including James Monroe, future Chief Justice John Marshall and congressman Henry Clay, earning him the title “America’s first law professor.” He died in 1806 , around 80, apparently murdered by a nephew who was perturbed that Wythe was planning to free the slaves that the young man was supposed to inherit. (The nephew was acquitted of murder but convicted of forging his uncle’s checks). YES

 

Read the story of James Wilson and the Philadelphia Riot in America’s Hidden History.

America's Hidden History, includes tales of "Forgotten Founders"

America’s Hidden History, includes tales of “Forgotten Founders”

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5, 2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5, 2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

Whatever Became of 56 Signers (Part 10 of 11)

(Part 10 of a series that begins hereYES at the end of the entry means the signer owned slaves; NO means he did not.)

…We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes , and our Sacred Honor.

The Grand Flag of the Union, first raised in 1775 and by George Washington in early 1776 in Boston. The Stars and Stripes did not become the "American flag" until June 14, 1777. (Author photo © Kenneth C. Davis)

The Grand Flag of the Union, first raised in 1775 and by George Washington in early 1776 in Boston. The Stars and Stripes did not become the “American flag” until June 14, 1777. (Author photo © Kenneth C. Davis)

 

A victim of the British. Two Irish immigrants. An orphaned carpenter. Among the next five of 56 signers.

-Richard Stockton (New Jersey) Of the signers who clearly suffered for his actions, this successful and widely-admired 45 year old attorney at the signing, may have suffered most. Stockton is also credited with recruiting John Witherspoon, an influential Sottish minister, (See next installment in series) to become president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton). Betrayed by loyalists in his home state, he was captured by the British in 1776, although later released in a prisoner exchange, not for having sworn allegiance to the King, as reported in a much-disputed rumor of the day. His New Jersey home was also damaged by the British but later restored. Stockton was in poor health after the experience in captivity but lived until 1781, when he died of throat cancer. YES

-Thomas Stone (Maryland) Among the conservatives in Congress, he was a 33 year old attorney at the signing, reluctant about independence, but then joining in the favorable vote. Another son of a wealthy planter, he had a low profile after the signing, helping write the Articles of Confederation but not signing them. He also declined to take part in the Constitutional Convention, when his wife, who fell ill following an inoculation against smallpox, died in 1787. Apparently despondent, he died four months later in 1787 at age 44. YES

-George Taylor (Pennsylvania) Arriving in America as an indentured servant from Ireland, he was a 60 year old merchant and iron maker at the signing. He had risen at the foundry where he worked to become bookkeeper, then bought the business after his employer’s death and then married the late owner’s widow. Taylor was not in the influential Pennsylvania delegation for the July vote, but signed the document in August. During the war, his foundry provided cannon and cannonballs for the war effort, but Congress was notoriously slow to pay its bills and his business suffered. He died in 1781 at age 65. YES

-Matthew Thornton (New Hampshire) An Irish-born physician,  he was around 62 at the signing, a veteran surgeon who had served with the New Hampshire militia in the French and Indian War. A latecomer to Congress, he joined in November 1776 and was later permitted to add his name to the document. He later served as a state judge and then operated a farm and ferry before his death in 1803 at about age 89. NO

-George Walton (Georgia) Orphaned and apprenticed as a carpenter, he was a 35 year old self taught attorney at the signing. Serving with the Georgia militia, he was shot and captured by the British in 1778. Well-treated, he was held for a year before being exchanged for a British officer –even though it was known he was a signer. He later served in a variety of state offices, including governor and senator from Georgia, and built a home on lands confiscated after the war from a Tory, or Loyalist. He is implicated in the events that led to the duel that killed fellow signer and political rival Button Gwinnet (see Part 3 of series)He died in 1804, aged 63. NO? Unable to confirm pending further investigation. 

 

 

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

America's Hidden History, includes tales of "Forgotten Founders"

America’s Hidden History, includes tales of “Forgotten Founders”