Back when we wrote Signing Their Rights Away, a Quirk book about the signers of the U.S. Constitution, we visited Philadelphia’s famous Christ Church Burial Ground, the final resting place of some Declaration and Constitution signers. Tourists typically make a beeline for Ben Franklin’s grave. Most never think to check out the stone of Major William Jackson—even if they’d know where to find it.
Jackson was the official secretary to the Constitutional Convention back in 1787, and served as George Washington’s “writing-aide” during that summer-long session to craft the U.S. Constitution. Jackson’s signature appears in the bottom-left corner of the U.S. Constitution. Since he was not a delegate from a particular state, historians don’t regard him as an official signer of the document. But people sometimes call him the “40th signer”—in quotes.
Jackson has laid in the Christ Church’s Burial Ground since his death in 1828, but the stone on his grave (and that of his wife Elizabeth) has, over time, suffered damage and erosion. (See photo here.) Historians at the church recently did some detective work among their records to identify the precise location of the Jacksons’ grave. They then donated their own money to commission a new plaque, which will be installed and dedicated this weekend, Sunday, May 18.
The event is open to the public, so come check it out: 1:00 pm at
Christ Church Burial Ground, 5th and Arch Streets, in Quirk’s hometown of Philadelphia, PA.