A Little Bit of History

Why is history important to us? Some of us have heard – in order to know where we are going, we need to understand where we have been. In other words, we need to understand our history. My family (Mrs. Hoffman) is related to two signers of the Declaration of Independence – Richard Stockton and Benjamin Rush. Who are these two men? Richard Stockton's family actually settled in the colonies in 1654 in the Delaware Valley. From the colony of New Jersey at the time of the American Revolution, Richard Stockton was a friend of George Washington. He served in the New Jersey Supreme Court and was active in politics for most of his life. At one point he was captured by the British who wanted him to renounce his connection to the American colonists. He refused and was treated badly as a prisoner of war. Eventually he was released and became the first person from New Jersey to sign the Declaration of Independence. His daughter Julia married Benjamin Rush from Philadelphia who was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Benjamin Rush was born just outside of Philadelphia and studied and practiced medicine abroad for many years before returning to the colonies. He wrote several books, one – the first known book on Chemistry and was very active as a Son of Liberty. A controversial figure Benjamin Rush caused quite a stir with his opinions in medicine and politics. From 1797 to 1813, he served as the Treasurer of the US Mint.

Going back to Philadelphia to see where my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, a document which still guides our country today, will be a stirringly emotional moment. I look forward to visiting the same places where my ancestors trod. Most of all I will be proud to discover more about ancestors who felt strongly enough in personal independence that they went against Britain to fight for it. For over two hundred years the United States of America has thrived because of those simple words – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those words still guide us today and it's exciting to know I am related to men who helped form this country.

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