Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Signed Declaration of Independence Before He Signed Allegiance to King George III

A high-profile flip-flop, reminiscent of LAWYER-Senator Kerry's admission during his presidential campaign, involved an illustrious LAWYER who was also a signer of our Declaration of Independence.

Richard Stockton (1730-1781): In 1776 Stockton was elected to the Continental Congress, where he took a very active role. Shortly after he signed the Declaration of Independence, he was taken prisoner by the British and dragged in bitterly cold weather to Perth Amboy. He was later taken to New York and put in the notorious Provost Jail, where he suffered brutal treatment.

It was at this point that he became a turncoat. He renounced the revolution and signed a different declaration, a "Declaration of Allegiance" to the King, George III, and gave "his word of honor that he would not meddle in the least of American affairs." A formal remonstrance from Congress led to his release January 3, 1777.

Upon Stockton's return to Princeton, it became known that during his imprisonment the British had persuaded him to sign the second Declaration, which required an oath of allegiance to the King -- an act Stockton revoked later that year by signing oaths of adjuration and allegiance prescribed by the New Jersey legislature. "Thus, he has the dubious honor of being the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to betray the cause." [source. Wikipedia.org]

"Well-connected local people probably don't get prosecuted as much,'' said professor John Corkery of the James Madison Law School in Chicago. Well, apparently it's more beneficial than that for LAWYERS. In 1968, the New Jersey legislature approved The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Southern New Jersey. Not surprising, considering how many versions of American history manage to omit Stockton's unique, little "flip-flops".