We all recognize some of the names at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence: John Hancock. Benjamin Franklin. John Adams.
But did you know a Southern Maryland native is one of the 56 men who signed the document? If you live here, you’ve probably heard his name, even if you don’t know his place in history:
Born in Charles County in 1743, Thomas Stone was a prosperous lawyer and land owner. His estate, Haberdeventure, sat on 400 acres near Port Tobacco. He practiced law in Frederick, and he and his wife Margaret Brown had three children. (We’re willing to bet Waldorf residents recognize Margaret’s father’s name, too: Dr. Gustavus R. Brown.)
Stone began serving in the Continental Congress in 1775, and he was part of the committee that drafted the Articles of Confederation. Stone has been called a “reluctant Revolutionary” because he didn’t favor going to war with Great Britain; he preferred diplomacy.
But when it became apparent to him that war was inevitable, he supported war with Britain over the colonists losing the freedoms he thought they deserved. Stone was one of those who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
He continued to serve in the Continental Congress until 1778 and again in 1783, when he left to care for his wife who was very was gravely ill. She died in 1787, and Stone died four months later. Some said he died of a broken heart. They and many members of the Stone family are buried on the grounds of Haberdeventure.
The Stone family estate, Haberdeventure, remained in the family for five generations. It was sold in 1936 and suffered a devastating fire in 1977. At that time, the National Park Service bought the property and restored it according to original plans. It opened to the public as the Thomas Stone National Historic Site in 1997.
While visiting the park, you can take a guided tour of the home and stroll the grounds where several outbuildings still stand. You can visit the grave of Thomas and Margaret Stone and several family members. At the Visitor’s Center, you can tour exhibits, watch an orientation video, or check out the shop. Admission to the park is free.
For more information on the park, visit https://www.nps.gov/thst/index.htm.
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