York Town Square

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Declaration signer James Smith tops York County patriot list (2/31 iconic images)

In summer 1776, James Smith signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Pennsylvania Constitution. The York, Pa., lawyer also served in the Continental Congress during that body’s visit to York County after British troops forced members from Philadelphia. Background posts: 400 years ago, John Smith explored Chesapeake Bay – 1 of 20 iconic images, Where was Thomas Jefferson when Congress met in York?, and Who will lead York in the future?

This painting of James Smith is another in a series of iconic images of York County, Pa. Smith lived and died in York County, joining New York’s Philip Livingston as the two signers of the Declaration buried in York County soil… .

In plain view: James Smith, who signed the Declaration of Independence, stands in his South George Street law office, used by the Board of War during the Continental Congress’ nine-month visit to York, then York Town, from Sept. 30, 1777, to June 27, 1778.
Behind the scene: The same snow that covered York Town’s Centre Square and York County Court House, where Congress met, coated George Washington’s troops shivering in Valley Forge. This was one of 16 paintings commissioned in 1927 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in York Town. This particular painting pulls together several elements of that local event of national import: the patriots, the remote town where they met and the long winter that challenged their efforts to build a nation. This moment is considered by many to be York County’s largest contribution to America’s history and is easily the most celebrated moment in the county’s past. A copy of this painting, or perhaps a sister painting, hangs in the Masonic Lodge, north of York.
Further details: All 16 portraits are periodically displayed by their owner, the York County Heritage Trust. To see the set, click here. Also, see Betty Stein’s “Continental Congress Courageous – The Delegates At Yorktown, Pa. 1777-78” for bios of all 64 delegates to Congress during 1777-78. The book was published as part of York County’s 225th anniversary celebration of the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in 2002.
Posts in this series:
400 years ago, John Smith explored Chesapeake Bay – 1/31 iconic images
Declaration signer James Smith tops York County patriot list – 2/31 iconic images
Going to market a longtime York County pastime – 3/31 iconic images
William C. Goodridge: From slavery to success story – 4/31 iconic images

Rebs’ short York visit creates long memories – 5/31 iconic images
Artist Horace Bonham captured everyday life – 6/31 iconic images
York County farm vs. factory tension relieved in overnight raid – 7/31 iconic images
York County stood firmly behind Allies on all fronts in WW II – 8/31 iconic images
Downtown thrived in post-WW II York – 9/31 iconic images
After WWII success, Farquhar sells assets to out-of-town outfit – 10/31 iconic images.
Sears, York County Shopping Center in the middle of things – 11/31 iconic images
Three Mile Island emergency indelibly written into memories – 12/2 iconic images.
People of varying religious groups founded York County – 13/31 iconic images
President Reagan: ‘Harley is back and standing tall’ – 14/31 iconic images
York’s mayor: ‘We are no longer unprotected’ – 15/31 iconic images
Grange Hall represented past way of York County life – 16/31 iconic images.
York County Honors Choir product of proud moment – 17/31 iconic images.
Meeting of riot victims brought hope for racial accord – 18/31 iconic images.
Property rights foundational factor in Lauxmont dispute – 19/31 iconic images.
New baseball diamond serves as York cornerstone – 20/31 iconic images
Season 2 of York’s campaign to come back – 21-23 of 31 iconic images
York on knees as its men storm Normandy beaches – 24-25 of 31 iconic images
One image illustrates two long-neglected subjects in York area – 26-27 of 31 iconic images
Images explain changes in York County factories, farms – 28-29 of 31 iconic images
York County still home to unvarnished beauty – 30/31 iconic images
Latinos most recent migrant group to call York County home – 31/31 iconic images
For additional iconic photos of York County, see this blog’s iconic photo category.
To see the full series of iconic photos in a special York Daily Record/Sunday News publication, click here.