JOHN MORTON was
born in 1724 in Ridley, in a part of Chester County that is now Delaware
County, Pennsylvania.His roots can be traced back to his great grandfather, who in
1654 was among the first Swedish emigrants to this country. They settled in
what are now the suburbs of Philadelphia.His father died in John's youth, and his stepfather, John Sketchley, an Englishman, supervised his education.
John Morton was
reared on a farm, yet with the help of his stepfather, he became a
surveyor before he entered into politics.He married Ann Justice (or Justis) who was also of Delaware
Swedish decent.They had
three sons and five daughters.
was elected to the provincial assembly in 1756 while in his thirties and
would serve there almost continuously for a decade.After losing his seat, Morton was appointed high sheriff of
Chester County by the governor of Pennsylvania.He held this position until he gained his way back into the
provincial assembly, where he was frequently speaker of the house.
John Morton was a Pennsylvania delegate at both the First and
Second Continental Congresses, who initially refused to favor independence.In a letter
to a friend in England, he wrote:"We
are preparing for the worst that can happen, viz., a civil war.I sincerely wish reconciliation; the contest is horrid.Parents against children, and children against parents.The longer the wound is left in the present state the worse it
will be to heal at last."
the British would not accept offers at reconciliation by he spring of
1776, Morton supported the vote for independence.Thomas Morton gave the casting affirmative vote of Pennsylvania on the question of adopting the Declaration of
chairman of the committee of the whole on the adoption of the system of
confederation, which was the committee that adopted the Articles of
Confederation, ratified after his death.
the close of his life he was abandon by many of his friends whose
political sentiments differed from his own.On his deathbed he said "Tell them they will live to see the
hour when they shall acknowledge my signing of the Declaration of
Independence to have been the most glorious service that I ever rendered
my country."John Morton was the first of the Signers to die.He passed away quietly in Chester, Pennsylvania on April 1, 1777.
Document requiring William Archer to appear before the General Court on
the lastTuesday of the present month. dated February 12, 1774 and
signed "John Morton"
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