How Many Baptists ....

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by wpe3bql, Jul 2, 2015.

  1. wpe3bql

    wpe3bql
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2015
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    12
    .... signed the Declaration of Independence?

    I can't be 110+% certain, but I do know for sure that John Hart was one of them.

    Okay, so who was John Hart?

    Well, most of my available sources don't come right out and state that John Hart was a Baptist, but my research will indicate that he was "one of us."

    There's some dispute as to the date and location of his birth. Back then record keeping on such things tended to be somewhat lacking unless you were born into a family that was "well known." What sources I do have at hand state that he was "born between 1706 & 1713."

    Hart "was a public official & politician in colonial NJ who served as a delegate to the Continental Congress & also signed the Declaration of Independence."

    "Hart was elected to the Hunterdon County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1750. He was first elected to the NJ colonial Assembly in 1761 and served there until 1771. He was appointed to the local Committee of Safety & the Committee of Correspondence, & became a judge on the Court of Common Pleas. He was often called 'Honest John."

    "When NJ formed a revolutionary assembly (or provincial congress) in 1776, he was elected to it & served as its Vice President. Prior to June 1776, the NJ delegation in the 1st Continental Congress was opposed to independence. As a result, the entire delegation was replaced, & Hart was one of those selected for the 2d Continental Congress. He joined in time to vote for & sign the Declaration of Independence. [NOTE: His signature is about half way down the "left hand" column of signers.]

    "He served only until Aug, 1776, then was elected Speaker of the newly-formed NJ General Assembly. He would later take on additional duties as Treasurer of the Council of Safety (which was given 'extraordinary & summary powers' to carry out affairs of the state during emergencies), President of the Joint Meetings of the NY Congress, & Commissioner of the State Loan Office. On June 22, 1778, he invited the American army to encamp on his farm. Washington had lunch with him, then had his [Washington's] famous Council of War at the nearby Hunt House. 12,000 men camped on his fields--during growing season. After resting & preparing for battle, the troops left on the 24th.

    "In December, 1776, the British advance into NJ reached Hunterdon County. [NOTE : Hunterdon Cty. today is located approximately in the far west of NJ about midway N & S. I-78 basically cuts right through the middle of the cty.] A marked man due to his status as Speaker of the Assembly, Hart was obligated to escape & hide for a short time in the nearby Sourland Mountains. His farm was raided by British & Hessian troops, who damaged but did not destroy the property. The Continentals' capture of Trenton on Dec. 26, 1776, allowed Hart to return home.

    "Prior to the Battle of Monmouth, Hart invited Gen. George Washington & the Continental Army to make camp on his farm, & his offer was accepted. From June 22-24, 1778, 12,000 men occupied his fields, & on at least one occasion, Gen. Washington dined with their host.

    "On Nov. 7, 1778, John Hart returned to Hopewell NJ from the Assembly in Trenton (NJ's capital city). 2 days later, he indicated that he was too ill with 'gravel' (kidney stones) to return. He continued to suffer from the painful affliction [His forced "hidings" in the severe elements probably aggravated this condition.] for more than 6 mo. until his death on May 11, 1779.

    "The NJ Gazette published the following obituary for John Hart on May 19, 1779: 'On Tuesday the 11th instant, departed this life at his seat in Hopewell, JOHN HART, Esq. the Representative in the General Assembly for the county of Hunterdon, & late Speaker of that House. He had served in the Assembly for many years under the former government, taken an early & active part in the present revolution, & continued to the day he was seized with his last illness to discharge the duties of a faithful & upright patriot in the service of his country in general & the county he represented in particular. The universal approbation of his character & conduct among all ranks of people, is the best testimony of his worth, & as it must make his death regretted & lamented, will ensure lasting respect to his memory.'"

    (Most of the above-cited information that is in quotation marks is from Wikipedia's article on John Hart.)

    As I earlier wrote, none of my readily-available sources (The only other source I have at hand is Signers of the Declaration of Independence: A reprint of an 1848 Original that was "Reprinted in 1995; 3d printing, 1998."

    How do I know John Hart was a Baptist deacon? In the middle 1980's I visited my home area in SE PA & decided to travel the 70+ miles to Hopewell NJ. Hopewell Baptist Church's records list John Hart as being one of its deacons.
     
  2. rsr

    rsr
    Expand Collapse
    <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2001
    Messages:
    10,073
    Likes Received:
    101
    Interesting. David Benedict writes that Hart provided the land for the church but was not himself a member. (As a side note, John Gano, the Revolutonary Wae Baptist chaplain, was ordained by the Hopewell church.)
     
  3. Van

    Van
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Messages:
    9,516
    Likes Received:
    49
    This link supports most of the OP, but in the 1747 entry, indicates He was a Presbyterian.

    .barefootsworld.net/johnhart.html
     
  4. TadQueasy

    TadQueasy
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Messages:
    426
    Likes Received:
    0
    I thought this was going to be a joke about light bulbs...
     
  5. wpe3bql

    wpe3bql
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2015
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    12
    It is possible that John Hart never "officially" declared himself to be a Baptist. Was he then a Presbyterian? That's possible because one of my sources states that "Hart was baptized [sprinkled?] at the Maidenhead Meetinghouse (now the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville [CT]) on Dec. 31, 1713."

    His father, Captain Edward Hart, more than likely was a Presbyterian so that's probably why his 5th of 13 children was baptized as a Presbyterian.

    One also needs to keep in mind that back in those days there was quite a bit of "cross-mingling" among religious denominations. It would not be unusual, for example, for a Presbyterian and a Baptist and Congregationalist to "share the stage" during a "protracted meeting," etc.

    Not saying this interdenominationalism always occurred in all circumstances, but during this era of the beginning of the "First Great Awakening (c. 1720 - c. 1760)," it wouldn't be thought to be as "shocking" as it may be in today's society.
     
  6. rsr

    rsr
    Expand Collapse
    <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2001
    Messages:
    10,073
    Likes Received:
    101
    It seems, from the sources, that Hart was sprinkled as a Presbyterian and was a long a member of the Pennington Presbyterian Church.

    Eli Cooley (Genealogy of Early Settlers in Trenton and Ewing said that though the Baptists claimed John Hart, they did so incorrectly and that documents show that Hart supported the Pennington church at least until 1769.

    That is not absolute proof, seeing that Hart deeded the meeting house property to the Baptists in 1771. Yet the gift did not necessarily mean that Hart was a Baptist; he could simply appreciated their work. Such generosity was not unheard of; there was a time that Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists would share a meeting place and folks would provide assistance to other churches starting new work.

    It is true that Gov. Joel Parker, in dedicating a monument to Hart in 1865 (in the Baptist church cemetery) said that Hart was a longstanding member of the church. However, I chalk that up to what he had been told by the church; it was almost a century before, and I am sure Parker did no independent research but relied upon information provided by the church.

    So ... it seems that Hart might have been a Baptist, or he might have just been sympathetic.
     

Share This Page

Loading...