Religious Convictions of America’s Founders: Thomas McKean

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."  Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 

Thomas McKean.  Along with Caesar Rodney of Delaware, Thomas McKean signed the Declaration of Independence.  He was one of Delaware’s delegates to the First Continental Congress in 1774 and the Second Continental Congress in 1775 and 1776.  He served as President of Congress (July 10, 1781 – November 4, 1781), was a ratifier of the U.S. Constitution, and served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Governor of Pennsylvania, and Governor of Delaware.

Being an outspoken advocate of independence, McKean’s was a key voice in persuading others to vote for a split with Great Britain. When Congress began debating a resolution of independence in June 1776 Caesar Rodney was absent. George Read was against independence, which meant that the Delaware delegation was split between McKean and Read and therefore could not vote in favor of independence. McKean requested that the absent Rodney ride all night from Dover to break the tie. After the vote in favor of independence on July 2, McKean participated in the debate over the wording of the official Declaration of Independence, which was approved on July 4.

Excerpt from letter to John Adams from Thomas McKean, 19 September 1777

This seems to be the day of trial. The Die is cast. I trust “we shall throw sixes.” May the Almighty give the Congress and our Generals wisdom, fortitude and perseverance, and teach the fingers of our army to fight. Our cause is good, our army in health and high spirits, and more numerous than that of the enemy. May the divine Disposer of all events crown our virtuous endeavors with success and save our country; of this we may be confident, “for he delights in virtue, and that which he delights in must be happy.”

See Also:

Religious Convictions of America’s Founders: John Hancock

Thanksgiving Proclamation: George Washington, Oct. 3, 1789