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This Day In Founding Fathers History – 20 May 2013

Lyman HallOn this day in 1776, Lyman Hall and Button Gwinnett of Georgia took their seats in the Continental Congress. 1

Button GwinnettIn 1775 on this day, the citizens of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, proposed to be the first such declaration by a governmental body in the colonies. 2

Marquis de LafayetteOn this day in 1778, on a spot called Barren Hill (now named Lafayette Hill) in Pennsylvania just outside of Philadelphia, the Marquis de Lafayette and his 2,200 Continentals evaded a trap set for them by British forces arriving from Philadelphia, the same forces Lafayette and his men had been charged with spying on. Lafayette recruited around 50 Oneida Indians to fight with the Continentals, which historians believe to be the saving grace of the continental forces, allowing them to escape. 3

Oneida Indians

Dolley MadisonOne notable birthday on this day in 1768, that of Dolley Madison. Madison was born in North Carolina, widowed in her early 20s, and married James Madison (4th President) in 1794. Dolley is the model of the modern First Lady, playing hostess for inaugural balls and visiting dignitaries, campaigning, charitable work, and her distinctive sense of style. Dolley was awarded an honorary seat in Congress, which permitted her to view the congressional debates from the floor. Samuel F.B. Morse honored Dolley by allowing her the honor of first private citizen to transmit a message via telegraph. Other First Ladies came to Dolley for advice on how to conduct themselves in their public role. 4

1 “The Revolution Day by Day 1776,” The American Revolution, National Park Service,

2 “The Mecklenburg Historical Association, Charlotte, NC,”; “The Declaration of Independence by the Citizens of Mecklenburg County…,” Library of Congress,
3 “Lafayette & the Battle of Barren Hill: Memorial,” DeChristopher Brothers Monuments & Memorials,
4 “First Lady Biography: Dolley Madison,” National First Ladies’ Library,


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