I approach, with an awkward anticipation, on my initial visit to John Morton’s Memorial.
John Morton was one of the Pennsylvania Delegates, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and I had no idea of what to do, or how to act while I was there at his burial site. I just knew that I had to start this adventure somewhere, and his would be the first location, the first of 56.
Since December of 2015, I have been planning to visit all of the burial sites of the “Signers of the Declaration of Independence.”
I couldn’t explain why, or to what end, but I knew I wanted at the very minimum to show my respect, and in some strange “time-traveling kind of mystical way” let them know that they are not forgotten. And to share those moments with the world.
How would I capture the essence of what I wanted to convey? I do not consider myself a very creative person, or one with very much patience for perfection. But I do have a sincere passion for our “Founders,” and I hope between my passion and the experience that comes with time, I will make them proud.
Along with the awkwardness as mentioned above, I was very excited as well because I had dreamed of seeing John Morton’s monument since I learned of its existence. Let me explain.
The Adventure Begins
My wife and I historically do not spend our free time wandering through graveyards, visiting stranger’s burial sites. It’s just not our thing. But I did feel a particular pull in this instance to visit and share the history and life of all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
From April through August of 2016, I visited John Morton’s site a few times, as a test run, to figure out the details of how SignersTour.com was going to work. And more importantly, what a Signer’s Tour “visit” would look like in real life.
I chose John Morton’s site for a practice visit due to it’s proximity to my parent’s house in Pennsylvania, which I frequently visited during that time.
As the crow flies, John Morton’s Memorial is within 5 miles of where my parents live, my childhood home. In fact, John and I were born within one mile of each other, separated only by a few centuries.
I grew up so close to a man who changed the course of history and never knew it until recently.
Because of growing up in the same region and county as John, and my love for the founding fathers and this country, I have cultivated a special place in my heart for him. I am forever thankful for his time, and the sacrifices he made for us, and for this great nation.
John Morton: Signer of the Declaration of Independence
John Morton was a signer of two of our country’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, 1776 and the Continental Association, 1774.
He was born in what is now know as Ridley Township, Pennsylvania, on March 10, 1724. A farmer and surveyor by trade, John started early on as a public servant in various forms of local and colonial government.
By all accounts, he was a well trusted and liked individual and was asked to participate in some of the most important pre-Declaration of Independence congresses and decisions that helped form our nation.
See Links below for his Bio, and historical facts.
John Morton was the tie-breaking vote for the Pennsylvania delegation.
John voted FOR the resolution toward independence. He never regretted his choice, but he did pay a dear price for his decision with his fellow citizens. In the last few months of his life, Signer John Morton was incessantly questioned about the reasoning of his vote and harassed for siding with Benjamin Franklin and James Wilson for independence.
John’s eternal response to his fellow countrymen was written on his monument:
“One day, people would realize that his voting for independence was “the most glorious service I have ever rendered my country.”
Declaration of Independence Signed
On August 2, 1776, John Morton signed the Declaration of Independence and secured his place in United States History.
With his signature, John and the other signers started America’s war for independence against England.
John Morton was now a wanted man in the eyes of King George and the Loyalists.
A few accounts exist of the Morton family having to flee the soldiers coming to arrest him. But I have found no records where he was ever captured or imprisoned for his actions.
John Morton’s Passing
Seven months and twenty-nine days after signing the Declaration of Independence, John Morton died on April 1, 1777, in his early fifties. Some records hint that he died of tuberculosis, but no one knows for sure.
I hope that as you come along with me on this journey, that you will also not forget the price that men like John Morton have paid for your liberty.
Thank you, Mr. Morton, for your commitment to Independence and for laying the framework for one of the greatest nations in the history of the world. I will forever feel a strong tie to you, a man who walked the same countryside as me, just a few centuries earlier.
Founder of SignersTour.com
Links for Information about John Morton’s life: