Irish Contribution to the Declaration of Independence

Jul 11, 2013

The Declaration of Independence is a document on which we find evidence of Irish contribution to the founding of the United States.

Among the citizens who signed what could have been a death warrant, were at least nine Irish Americans, a few of them born in Ireland.

Many of them were Orange Irish or Scotch Irish who hated the British monarchy, and whose spirit of independence is at the heart of the Republics they would crucially help found in America and Ireland. Their brand of Irish defiance saw right through British imperialism, and used Enlightenment Republican ideals to create an alternative society for free people.

MATTHEW THORNTON was born in Ireland in 1714 and went out to America when he was only four-years-old.

EDWARD RUTLEDGE was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence. He would later become the 39th Governor of South Carolina.

THOMAS LYNCH, Jr. stood in for his father Thomas Lynch Sr. who was unable to represent South Carolina due to illness.

GEORGE READ was born in Maryland in 1733. His parents immigrated from Dublin.

CHARLES CARROLL of Irish decent represented Maryland and was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.

JOHN DUNLAP, a printer, was born in Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland. On July 4, after they agreed to the final wording of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock ordered Dunlap to print broadsides. Dunlap printed 200 copies of the Declaration of Independence. The first newspaper outside America to publish the first text was the Belfast News Letter in its edition of August 23-27, 1776.

JAMES SMITH was born in Ireland in c.1719 and was forced with his family to emigrate to the American colonies as a boy due to abuse by landlords. Smith emerged as a leading lawyer of his day and wrote legal opinions denying constitutional power of Great Britain over the colonies in America.

THOMAS McKEAN from County Antrim came to Pennsylvania via the city of Derry as a child and would become an American lawyer and politician, serving as President of Delaware, Chief Justice, and then Governor of Pennsylvania.

GEORGE TAYLOR was born in northern, Ireland in 1716 and emigrated to America at the age of 20. Taylor operated a furnace and was an iron manufacturer in Pennsylvania. George Taylor is of special interest to us in the Lehigh Valley, as his historical home in Catasaqua, a national historic landmark, is now open to the public.

As we enjoy the celebration of the United State’s 237th birthday, let us honor the courage and sacrifice of our founding fathers – and the pride of the Irish that helped launch this great nation. For the Celtic Cultural Alliance, I’m Silagh White, Slainté