Do You Know About Thomas Stone?

Did you know that Thomas Stone, Maryland Signer of the Declaration of Independence was initially a moderate who favored reconciliation with Great Britain over separation? His position was not unusual as several delegates to the Continental Congress would favor reconciliation over separation until it became evident that Great Britain did not want to peacefully settle the various issues which existed between Parliament and the colonies.

Thomas Stone was seated as a Maryland delegate on May 1776 and lived up to his reputation as a moderate who favored reconciliation over independence, on his arrival.  This was initially helpful, because the Maryland Convention, at the time, wanted reconciliation. Over time, this would change, especially after the efforts of Chase, Carroll, and Paca, who traveled the colony gathering support for independence.  In June of 1776, Maryland changes its tune and new instructions are issued:

“That the instructions given to their deputies be recalled, and the restrictions therein contained, removed; and that the deputies of said colony, or any three or more of them, be authorized and empowered to concur with the other united colonies, or a majority of them, in declaring the united colonies free and independent states; in forming such further compact and confederation between them; in making foreign alliances; and in adopting such other measures as shall be adjudged necessary for securing the liberties of America; and that said colony will hold itself bound by the resolutions of the majority of the united colonies in the premises; provided the sole and exclusive right of regulating the internal government and police of that colony be reserved to the people thereof.”[1]

There had been rumors saying British emissaries were to arrive and negotiate some type of reconciliation, which caused him to be reluctant towards independence, but when they did not arrive, he realized breaking from Great Britain to form their own country was the only option.

He votes in favor of independence on July 2 and wrote to the Maryland Council of Safety on July 12: “May God send Victory to the Arm lifted in Support of righteousness, Virtue & Freedom, and crush even to destruction the power which wantonly would trample on the rights of mankind.”[2]  He then signs the engrossed copy, on August 2.