Cities honoring signatories to the declaration map points in region and state


This July 4th marks the 245th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence – at least in popular legend.

Several locations across the state are named for the signatories of the visionary document.

In southwest Illinois, Carrollton is named in honor of Charles Carroll of Maryland, while in the north, Rushville honors Pennsylvania physician Benjamin Rush.

Franklin is also named for a signer of the Declaration, albeit indirectly. The village of Morgan County takes its name from a town of the same name in south-central Kentucky that honored Benjamin Franklin.

Municipalities named for signatories to the Declaration are found throughout Illinois. Four counties are named after the men who put their names on the document, including Carroll, Franklin, Jefferson, Lee and Hancock, for the famous first signer.

Overall, several cities and more than 20 counties in Illinois are named after people with a connection to the independence struggle.

“The Revolution was still fresh in the minds of the people and the country was still young,” said Dr. Samuel Wheeler, former Illinois state historian at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. “We didn’t have hundreds of years of American history to go on. The Revolution had been a common experience that Americans shared.

The names of the signatories of the Declaration and revolutionary figures also adorn dozens of schools and monuments across the state.

Carroll was a successful planter who went on to serve as the first United States Senator from the state of Maryland. Considered by many to be the richest man in the colonies, his wealth has been estimated at $ 465 million in current terms.

The only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration, Carroll outlived the rest of the signatories and died on November 14, 1832 at the age of 95. Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin is also named after him, as are twelve counties across the country.

Rush was a leading physician who served as the Continental Army’s Surgeon General and then founded Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. A professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, he wrote one of the first studies on the treatment of mental health. Rush also created a medical kit for the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803.

Earlier in 1776, Rush married Julia Stockton, whose father, Richard, was another signatory of the Declaration. Rush, who died in 1813, is credited with helping Thomas Jefferson and John Adams reconcile their long friendship.

Some of Rush’s students later founded Rush Medical College in Chicago in his honor. A city and county in Indiana also bear his name.

The US Census Bureau reports that only Washington has more places named for it than Franklin, a man of remarkably diverse talent. He is credited with the inventions of the bifocals and the Franklin stove, among others, and established the country’s first lending library, the Library Co. of Philadelphia, in 1731.

A shrewd businessman, Franklin also embarked on an early form of franchise with his printing business. Although linked to Philadelphia, he spent long periods in France on diplomatic and pleasure excursions where, despite his bald and stocky appearance, he was something of an idol among the ladies.

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration, most of them lawyers, traders or landowners. The thirteen colonies were represented in the signatures on the document, dated July 4, 1776.

While this day is generally celebrated as America’s birthday, the Continental Congress actually voted for independence on July 2. Adams, one of the signatories, later wrote that July 2 would be marked by fireworks and celebrations.

In addition, the declaration was only signed during a ceremony on August 2, although not all 56 signatories were present.


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