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Matthew Thornton
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Matthew Thornton (1714 – June 24, 1803), was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Hampshire.

He was born in Ireland: his family immigrated to America when he was three years old, settling first at Wiscasset, Maine, and removing shortly thereafter to Worcester, Massachusetts. Thornton became a physician and was appointed surgeon to the New Hampshire Militia troops in the expedition against Fortress Louisbourg. He had royal commissions as justice of the peace and colonel of militia. He became Londonderry Town Selectman, a representative to, and President of the Provincial Assembly, and a member of the Committee of Safety, drafting New Hampshire's plan of government after dissolution of the royal government, which was the first state constitution adopted after the start of hostilities with England.

He was first President of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Associate Justice of the Superior Court of New Hampshire. He was elected to the Continental Congress after the debates on independence had occurred, arriving just in time to actually sign the Declaration of Independence.

He became a political essayist. He retired from his medical practice and in 1780 moved to Merrimack, New Hampshire where he farmed and operated a ferry with his family. He died in Newburyport, Massachusetts, while visiting his daughter. Matthew Thornton is buried in Thornton Cemetery in Merrimack, New Hampshire and his grave reads "An Honest Man." The town of Thornton, New Hampshire is named in his honor, and a Londonderry elementary school as well. Thornton's residence in Derry, which was part of Londonderry at the time, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some of his descendants live in South Carolina,North Carolina, and Yulee,Florida.

As President of the Provincial Congress, he addressed the following letter to the inhabitants of the Colony of New Hampshire :

Exeter, June 2d, 1775.
To the Inhabitants of the Colony of New Hampshire :

Friends and Brethren : You must all be sensible that the affairs of America have at length come to a very affecting and alarming crisis. The Horrors and Distresses of a civil war, which, till of late, we only had in contemplation, we now find ourselves obliged to realize. Painful beyond expression have been those scenes of Blood and Devastation which the barbarous cruelty of British troops have placed before our eyes. Duty to God, to ourselves, to Posterity, enforced by the cries of slaughtered Innocents, have urged us to take up Arms in our Defense. Such a day as this was never before known, either to us or to our fathers. You will give us leave therefore — in whom you have reposed special confidence — as your representative body, to suggest a few things which call for the serious attention of everyone who has the true interest of America at heart. We would therefore recommend to the Colony at large to cultivate that Christian Union, Harmony and tender affection which is the only foundation upon which our invaluable privileges can rest with any security, or our public measures be pursued with the least prospect of success.

We also recommend that a strict and inviolable regard be paid to the wise and judicious councils of the late American Congress, and particularly considering that the experience of almost every day points out to us the danger arising from the collection and movements of bodies of men, who, notwithstanding, we willingly hope would promote the common cause and serve the interest of their country, yet are in danger of pursuing a track which may cross the general plan, and so disconcert those public measures which we view as of the greatest importance. We must, in the most express and urgent terms, recommend it that there may be no movements of this nature, but by the direction of the Committees of the respective Towns or Counties; and those Committees, at the same time, advising with this Congress or with the Committee of Safety in the recess of Congress, where the exigence of the case is not plainly too pressing to leave room for such advice.

We further recommend that the most industrious attention be paid to the cultivation of Lands and American Manufacture, in their various branches, especially the Linen and Woolen ; and that the husbandry might be particularly managed with a view thereto — accordingly that the Farmer raise Flax and increase his flock of sheep to the extent of his ability.

We further recommend a serious and steady regard to the rules of temperance, sobriety and righteousness, and that those Laws which have heretofore been our security and defense from the hand of violence may still answer all their former valuable purposes, though persons of vicious and corrupt minds would willingly take advantage from our present situation.

In a word, we seriously and earnestly recommend the practice of that pure and undefiled religion which embalmed the memory of our pious ancestors, as that alone upon which we can build a solid hope and confidence in the Divine protection and favor, without whose blessing all the measures of safety we have or can propose will end in our shame and disappointment.
MATTHEW THORNTON,
President.

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