Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Moving bones

We have two signers of the Declaration of Independence buried at Guilford Courthouse in Greensboro. They are William Hooper and John Penn. William Hooper was buried in Hillsborough, but they moved him to Greensboro. John Penn was from Granville (now Vance county) and he was later moved to Greensboro, too.

A third NC signer, Joseph Hewes is buried in Philadelphia along with Benjamin Frankin. Joseph Hewes was unmarried and died during one of the sessions of the Congress. He never saw the result of his actions. The whole Congress moaned for him. He had established a business in Edenton in Chowan county. In 1776, he was appointed the first Secretary of the Navy. He signed over his whole fleet of ships to the US at great personal and financial sacrifice. So, it seems to me that Chowan then is the site of the first headquarters of the Navy.

Joseph Hewes, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a citizen of Edenton, a large ship-owner and merchant, who carried on a great trade with England and the West Indies. War meant a tremendous financial sacrifice to Hewes but, true patriot that he was, he signed the Declaration and put his entire fleet at the disposal of the Continental forces. To Hewes the Nation is indebted for the brilliant services of John Paul Jones.

John Paul Jones was certainly a colorful character. He died in Paris, but when his remains were discovered there in the early 1900s, he was moved to the United States Naval Academy where he was carried into Bancroft Hall and placed under the grand staircase leading to Memorial Hall. He remained for nearly thirteen years until additional funds were appropriated for the completion of the crypt in the Chapel.

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