SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

July 4, 2014

Our view: Celebrating the birth of our nation

Two hundred thirty-eight years ago, a nation was born.

On July 4, 1776, Congress approved the final text of the Declaration of Independence and thus created the United States of America.

The new country formally declared its independence from England. Representatives from the original 13 colonies, 56 of them, signed the document.

New Englanders ought to take some special pride when the country celebrates Independence Day.

New Hampshire has long been known for the fierce independence of its residents and its lawmakers. It remains the only state without a mandatory adult seat-belt law, it has no income tax and its state House of Representatives is the largest in the country.

Some six months before the Declaration of Independence was signed, New Hampshire already had declared its independence from the motherland, a sign of things to come.

Three men represented New Hampshire at the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration.

But not a single one of them was born in New Hampshire.

Matthew Thornton, whose name is familiar to local residents, was born in Ireland. He lived in Maine and Massachusetts before, as a doctor, he was named surgeon to Granite State troops in 1745.

Thornton was president of the New Hampshire House and a Superior Court judge. He died in Newburyport at the age of 89.

Another physician, Josiah Bartlett, was born across the border in Amesbury. He served on New Hampshire’s Supreme Court and as governor.

Perhaps less well known was William Whipple, born in Maine. A sailor, he made a fortune and answered the call to public service early and often. He was brigadier general of the New Hampshire Militia and battled at Saratoga and Stillwater.

Whipple died in the saddle at age 55 while traveling for the circuit court.

Despite their places of birth, New Hampshire can proudly lay claim to all three men.

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