Declaration of Independence Signer. Born in Princeton, New Jersey, to a wealthy family, he grew up at Morven, the family estate, and attended Princeton University, graduating in 1748. He had studied law, and set up a law practice. In 1755, he married Annis Boudinot, with whom he would have six children. Initially, New Jersey’s royal government was good to Richard Stockton: he was made a member of the governor’s council, as well as appointed to the Royal Supreme Court of New Jersey. By the time he reached forty, he was a rich, successful man who spent much of his spare time breeding horses and collecting works of art. When the troubles with England began, he knew that he could lose everything, even his life, if he opposed Britain, but in the end, he sided with the patriot cause. In mid-1776, the patriots took control of the New Jersey Government, arrested the royal governor, and selected new delegates to the Second Continental Congress, delegates that would support the cause of independence. Stockton was one such delegate, and he arrived in Philadelphia just in time to vote for independence. He served in the Second Continental Congress in 1776, and the same year, became Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. When the British Army invaded New Jersey in 1776, Stockton and his family fled to a home of a friend. Loyalists learned of their whereabouts, and reported this to the British Army. Late one night in 1776, a company of British soldiers broke down the door and pulled him out of bed. He was sent to New York, where he was imprisoned. When his release was finally negotiated, his health had been destroyed and his home had been burned to the ground. During his last remaining years of life, he was so poor that he had to accept help from friends to support his family. After his death, his home, Morven, was rebuilt, and became the official residence of New Jersey’s governor, from 1950 to 1981. Today, he is honored with a statue in the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson