Declaration Signer Josiah Bartlett signs his name within the text of five land documentsJosiah Bartlett Autograph Documents (5) Signed several times within the text. In Philadelphia in July 1776, the gathered delegates of the Second Continental Congress - which included Josiah Bartlett - voted to "dissolve the political bands" between the colonies and the mother country. When Bartlett and the other delegates signed the Declaration of Independence, they were committing treason which meant they forfeited their lives and property. Bartlett, as this collection of land documents show, owned several pieces of property which, if the Americans had lost their revolution, would have been forfeited and lost. In spite of the risks, Bartlett is known as the first to cast his vote in favor of a formal declaration of independence. Following is a list of Bartlett's five land documents in this collection.
(1) Four pages written in March 1784 entitled "A List of the Lands I now own" listing nearly twenty deeds dating back to 1751. One, on page one, reads, "Deed from Jonathon Young to Josiah Bartlett & John Calfe Dated Febry. 16th 1764 of part of my young place." Ten years after writing and signing this document, Bartlett added an addendum stating that he had given his daughter "a Deed of Gift of the 160 acre lot in Berrystown now Sutton" in "the winter 1793 or 1794."
(2) One undated page entitled "Boundaries of a Deed from Ephraim." The document begins, "Lawrence Junr. to Josiah Bartlett Dated March 8th 1757 of land lying in Kingston. . . ." Bartlett has written his name once more in the text.
The three remaining items include (3) a bill of sale (dated February 14, 1774) and (4 & 5) two land deeds (dated July 4, 1774, and May 21, 1792). The 1774 document is partly printed. All documents are toned with minor stains and foxing.
Josiah Bartlett (1729-1795) was a New Hampshire physician and lifelong public servant, serving as a delegate to the Continental Congress, a chief justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court, and finally governor of the state. He had married his cousin Mary Bartlett in 1754, and before her death in 1789, they had twelve children. Along with John Pickering, Bartlett was chosen a New Hampshire delegate to the First Continental Congress in September 1774. Both men, however, declined. (Bartlett declined because his house in Kingston had recently burned.) The physician was again elected in 1775, and this time, he took his seat in the Second Continental Congress in September in Philadelphia. When the time came in 1776 to vote on a declaration of independence, the delegates chose the northernmost colony, New Hampshire, to cast the first vote, which gave Bartlett the opportunity to be the first to vote in favor of one of the most important political documents in history.
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