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The Religious Affiliation of
a Signer of the Declaration of Independence
Button Gwinnett is regarded as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was a delegate from Georgia.
Button Gwinnett was an Episcopalian and a Congregationalist.
Button Gwinnett and fellow Declaration of Independence signer Lyman Hall were members of the same Congregationalist congregation in Sunbury, Georgia.
He was identified as an Episcopalian by the Georgia Public Library Service and the Georgia Historial Society. (Source: Ian Dorion, "Table of the Religious Affiliations of American Founders", 1997).
Declaration of Independence signer Button Gwinnett died after a duel with Gen. Lachlan McIntosh in 1777. He was the Acting Governor of Georgia at the time.
From: Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975), pages 62-64:
Tempestuousness and ill-fortune marked the destiny of uniquely named Button Gwinnett, whose forename is that of a branch of his mother's family. The second signer to die, he met a tragic end in a duel while only in his forties...
Gwinnett was likely born in 1735, at the village of Down Hatherly, Gloucestershire, England. The second male in a family numbering at least seven, he was the son of an Anglican vicar of Welsh ancestry and a mother with English ties.
...Unlike the other two Georgia signers [of the Declaration of Independence], Lyman Hall and George Walton, he [Gwinnett] belatedly joined the patriot side--apparently held back for some time by his English birth and close family connections in England. His friend Hall, a Sunbury resident and fellow member of the Midway Congregational Church, swung him over, probably beginning in the summer of 1775. The next February, the provincial congress named Gwinnett to the Continental Congress, though he did not arrive in Philadelphia until May...
In October Gwinnett was reelected to the Continental Congress, but chose not to attend. Instead, during the next 5 months, he payed a key role in drafting the State's first constitution, in the course of which he helped thwart a proposed union of South Carolina and Georgia. Upon the death of the Governor, or president of the Executive Council, in March 1777 the council commissioned Gwinnett as Acting Governor for 2 months, but he failed to achieve reelection. Before leaving office, he had clashed with controversial Gen. Lachlan McIntosh, an old rival. The result was a pistol duel in May just outside Savannah. Both men suffered wounds, but Gwinnett died a few days later of a gangrenous infection in his leg. Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah contains a grave reputed to be be his.
Note that numerous sources and authoritative references have been consulted in order to ascertain the religious affiliation of the American Founding Fathers. Note that the excerpts and references mentioned on this page are not the only references used in order to identify this person's religious affiliation.
Portrait: from Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975).
Religion of Founding Fathers webpage created 17 November 2005. Last modified 22 November 2005.
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