by Janelle Pavao
John Hart was an American politician, delegate to the Continental Congress, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Hart was probably born either in 1706 or 1713. There are conflicting records in existence, but the two most likely are that he was either born in 1706 in Stonington, Connecticut, or he was born in 1713 in Hopewell Township, New Jersey. However it is certain that he was baptized on December 31, 1713.
He inherited his father's very successful farm and established himself as a hard worker and prominent member in the community In 1741, John Hart married Deborah Scudder. Together they had thirteen children. In 1747, a church group came to the Harts in search of some land for their church. John donated a plat of land in his yard to build the "Old Baptist Meeting House."
In 1750, John Hart was elected to Hunterdon County Board of Chosen Freeholders. In 1761, he was elected to New Jersey Colonial Assembly. During that time, most of the New Jersey delegates to the Continental Congress were hesitating in casting a vote for freedom. Congress needed a unanimous vote (rather than a majority vote), so the current New Jersey delegates were replaced. As a result, John Hart was sent to vote for independence and sign the Declaration of Independence.
After the Congress, Hart was elected Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly. He then went on to become Treasurer of the Council of Safety. He served in these various public roles until his death. He died on May 11, 1779.