The average age of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was only 44.
When we picture the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the preeminent image is a bunch of short, old white men gathered around a large document in a small wooden building.
But that’s only mostly the case. Yes, they were short and very, very, very white. But they weren’t old. In fact, their ages were all over the board on July 4, 1776.
Here are 11 of the most famous of the founding fathers’ ages on the day that America declared its independence (many of whom were nowhere near Philadelphia that day):
1 | James Monroe, 18
2 | Alexander Hamilton, 21
3 | James Madison, 25
4 | Thomas Jefferson, 33
5 | John Hancock, 39
6 | Patrick Henry, 40
7 | John Adams, 40
8 | Paul Revere, 41
9 | George Washington, 44
10 | Samuel Adams, 53
11 | Benjamin Franklin, 70
A few other notable ages of more infamous players in 1776: Aaron Burr, 20… Benedict Arnold, 35… King George III, 38… Thomas Gage, 56… Julio Franco, 12.
And the average age of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence was 44.
So… why were most of them so surprisingly young? My theories:
One, it makes sense that people peaked a little younger then, since the life expectancy was 36 and a bad cold or a deep cut was quite possibly game-set-match.
And two — educated guess — it’s hard to get a revolutionary spirit to a boiling point without some youthful exuberance and involvement. So they needed a bell curve of ages involved, since Old Man Franklin certainly couldn’t do it alone. Actually he probably could’ve. He had a hell of a diverse skillset.