Thomas McKean

By: MaKenna Sempek (aka Makien Sempkie)

The Childhood of Thomas

  • Thomas was born in New London, Pennsylvania- Chester County (Not Delaware where he lived during the signing)
  • He was born March 19, 1734
  • He grew up in an upper middle class family (Not as wealthy as a Virginia planter, but also not as poor as a rope-maker)
  • Thomas's father owned a Tavern and was able to send Thomas to school to get a good education

Getting Started In Politics.

  • Thomas met George Read (a Delaware delegate) in his fathers Tavern and became close friends
  • McKean then became admitted (in management) to a bar in Delaware and then the next year another bar in Pennsylvania
  • Following this he lived a life of public service, he served as Attorney General of Sussex County, Speaking of General Assembly, and judge of the Court of Common Pleas
  • McKean participated in the county party of Delaware, the county party pf Delaware was a political party that favored independence over British rule
  • By 1774 Thomas McKean along with his close friends George Read and Caesar Rodney had established themselves as the voice of Delaware and were sent to the First Continental Congress and also to the Second Continental Congress
  • He also served as an important member in the Stamp-Act Congress, after being a trustee of the loan-office of New Castle County for twelve years

The Importance he had at the Signing.

  • George Read surprised everyone especially Thomas McKean when he voted against independence, and the sickly Caesar Rodney did not give a vote
  • Thomas was the only Delaware Representative at the signing and he super intended the finances and variety of important measures
  • At the Second Congress, McKean was a true fighter for independence.
  • Since the Stamp Act of 1765 Thomas opposed British rule and believed that the crown had "no right to regulate American affairs in anyway"
  • A lot of confusion was brought up by Thomas McKean because nobody knows when he actually signed the Declaration, many people believe it was 1781, but his name was on the original document

Life After Signing the Document.

  • Thomas left Congress to command a battalion of troops to assist Washington at Perth Amboy, New Jersey
  • Thomas was not available when most Signers placed their signatures on the Declaration on August on August 2, 1776
  • McKean was very influential in Delaware as well as Pennsylvania politics
  • He spent his last years writing about political theory and enjoying his wealth that he had acquired
  • He died 1817 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was buried in the First Presbyterian Church


1. Who did McKean represent at the signing?

2. Where was McKean born?

3. When did he sign?