If you visit Signer’s Walk on our Independence Tour, you will find that things begin not with a bang, but a whimper. First of all, the beneficiary of the first plaque, Thomas Stone, is, er, missing his face. (Not the last one missing, unfortunately.). Come on Philly, let’s fix this thing up!
But on to Thomas Stone, who is not exactly the most famous of the Signers. At the time Stone was chosen to attend the Second Continental Congress, Maryland was hoping the problems between Great Britain and the Colonies would somehow resolve themselves. They would famously sit the American Civil War out, being the only state to choose neither side to ally itself with, and many Marylanders would have like to do the same thing in regards to the revolution. Stone was not particularly popular among the patriots, because he prosecuted a man who refused to pay a tax meant to support the Anglican clergy. Those on the side of the tax collectors were not highly popular.
Still, Stone had a fairly impressive career. He was virtually silent about his or Maryland’s position on independence during the Congress, but when called upon to vote on Richard Henry Lee’s resolution on Independence, he voted in the affirmative. Later he was appointed to be on the committee that drafted the Articles of Confederation, the first governing principals for the new confederation of states.
Like the majority of the Founders, Stone married not only for love, but for money as well. Margaret Brown’s dowry enabled Stone to purchase his large home and helped fund his political career. Those who believed in science generally received innoculatioins against small pox, which meant actually giving the disease to the patient in a weak form; the patient, once recovered, never need concern him or herself about the disease again. Unfortunately, these innoculatioins were not one hundred percent effective, and Margaret was one of the unlucky ones. She never fully recovered from her inoculation, but lived another decade in a weakened state before dying in 1787. This tragedy was too much for Stone, who quit his work as a lawyer and planned to go to England to forget. However, at the age of forty-four, he inexplicably dropped dead, the victim, according to writers Denise Kiernen and Joseph D’Agned, of a broken heart!
Keep checking in for descriptions of each of the 56 Signers who are commemorated at Signer’s Walk!