Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Signers of the Declaration of Independence - Part IV

Connecticut four signers of the Declaration of Independence were Samuel Huntington, Roger Sherman, Oliver Wolcott and William Williams.  Of the four, Huntington and Sherman were present to adopt the document on the 4th.  Wolcott who had become ill, had returned to CT.  Williams was in route to replace Wolcott.

William Williams (Apr. 23, 1731 - Aug. 2, 1811):  Born in Lebanon, CT where his father was minister of the Congregationalist Church, Williams followed in his father's footsteps and studied theology at Harvard, graduating in 1751.  However, soon afterward, he join the militia to fight in the French and Indian War.  This experience soured his opinion of British officers.  After the war he opened a store in Lebanon called The Williams, Inc.  It was the beginning of his very successful merchant career.  He was elected Town Clerk. He held that position for 44 years. He was a Selectman for 25years, served the provincial and later state Legislature for nearly 40 years-during which time he was councilor, member, and Speaker of the House.  In 1773 he was made Colonial in the Connecticut Militia.  He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1776 to replace the ailing Wolcott.  He didn't arrive until July 28 but was present for the formal signing of the document on Aug 2nd.  Later he was appointed a member of the committee to frame the Articles of Confederation. In 1777 he was appointed to the Board of War. After the war, he attended the Hartford Convention, where Connecticut ratified the Constitution.  Originally sent to vote against its adoption, he decided that Connecticut would benefit from it and he voted for it even though he objected to the clause forbidding religion tests. Williams spent his remaining years as a County Court judge. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 2013 Constellation of the Month – Hercules

Last month's Constellation of the Month   Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown – is almost directly overhead about an hour after sunset.  Hercules is sandwiched between Corona, to its West and the  Summer Triangle a much larger grouping of three 1st-magniitude stars which we featured here on July 2012.  That blog post also explains the magnitude scale.

Although none of Hercules's stars is 1st or 2nd magnitude, it is readily  distinguishable by the "Keystone",  an asymmetrical rectangle of stars about the size of the crown of Corona Borealis.  The Keystone represents the body of the mythological hero Hercules.  His two arms extend from the two southern corners and his two legs extend northward.  His right foot is stepping on the head of Draco, the Dragon, which is a serpent-shaped circumpolar constellation that we'll feature in this blog next summer.

The constellation Hercules is known for several prominent Globular Clusters.  Globular clusters are very old spherical groupings of stars which pre-date the forming of stars in the disk of our Milky Way Galaxy.  Almost all the stars in our galaxy are in the disk, but globular clusters are scattered outside the disk.   These clusters are made up of 10,000 to several million stars.  The stars in each cluster were all formed around the same time, and they are held together in the globular shape by their joint gravitational attraction.

Along the western side of the Keystone is M13, considered by many as the finest example of a globular cluster in the northern sky.  Comprised of about 300,000 stars, it's about half the width of the full Moon, and it's easily visible with binoculars.  North of the Keystone is M92, the oldest known globular cluster.  At 14 billion years old, it's more than twice as old as our Sun (and Earth).  Hercules also has some interesting binary stars which are resolvable with a small telescope.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Signer of the Declaration of Independence - III

Of the four men sent to represent the Second Continental Congress, two were present for the July 4th adoption vote, Roger Sherman and Samuel Huntington.  Their stories appear in Part 1 & 2.  Oliver Wolcott and William Williams were not present on that date.  Here is Oliver Wolcott's Story:

Oliver Wolcott (Nov. 26, 1726 - Dec. 1, 1797) Born in Windsor, CT, he started out life as the youngest child of the Colonial Governor Roger Wolcott.  He attended Yale University and graduated as a distinguished student in 1747.  During the French and Indian War, he was commissioned Captain and raised a militia unit which fought for the King on the western frontier .  After the war, he studied medicine.  He was appointed sheriff of Litchfield County a post he kept for 20 years.  In 1771 he joined the Militia and was made a Major and then Colonel in the Connecticut Militia.  In 1774 the Continental Congress appointed him a Commissioner of Indian Affairs.  He was elected to Congress in 1775.  He was not a very active member of Congress, spending most of his time concerned with military affairs.  In 1776 he became seriously ill and returned to CT.  He was not present for the adoption of the Declaration but signed in some time in October.  Because of his military background he would become Brigadier General of the entire Connecticut force, under command of the Continental Armies.  In 1778 he was again elected to Congress where he served until 1784.  After his retirement, Congress called him back twice to serve as Indian Commissioner.  In 1786, he was elected Lieutenant Governor and assumed Governorship upon the death of Samuel Huntington in 1996.  He died in office in 1797 at the age of 71.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Signer of Declaration of Independence - II

Connecticut sent four men to the second Continental Congress:  Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, Oliver Wolcott, & William William.  Even though only two were present on July 4th, all four eventually signed it.  It took almost six months before the document contained all 56 signatures.  Here is Samuel Huntington's story:

Samuel Huntington (July 3, 1731 - Jan 9, 1796):  Born in now Scotland, CT, he started his adult life as a copper and farmer.  Self-educated, he successfully read for the bar in 1754.  He started his political career as selectman of Norwich, CT.  In 1764 he was elected to the lower house of the CT assembly where he served for 10 years before being elected to the upper house, the Governor's Council, where he served for 9 years.  He was also the King's Attorney, eventually serving as Chief Justice of the Superior Court.  An outspoken critic of the Coercive Acts, he was selected as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress.  He was present and voted for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  A quiet thoughtful man, he was highly respected by his peers and elected President of the Continental Congress twice.  He was President when the Articles of Confederation went into effect in 1781, thus making him technically the First President of the United States.  Smallpox forced him to leave Congress but he was able to return in time for the signing of the Treaty of Paris.  In 1785, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of CT and the next year became Governor, a position he held till his death in 1796.  During his tenure, he helped broker the Treaty of Hartford which resolved western land claims between NY & MA.  In 1788, he presided over the Connecticut Convention which ratified the US Constitution.  He also negotiated Hartford becoming the permanent State capital.  He was not known as a great orator but instead as a hard working man with a calm manner.  Through his hard work, Huntington helped guide the Colony of Connecticut into the State of Connecticut. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Signers of the Declaration of Independence - Part 1

Connecticut sent four men to the Second Continental Congress, Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, Oliver Wolcott, and William Williams. Only two were present and voted for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  All eventually signed it.  The actual signing of the document by all 56 men took nearly  six months.