As the partial subject of your July 8 follow-up to Dan Aubrey’s play about Richard Stockton, I would like to add some facts that are often overlooked.

1: Richard Stockton was the only signer of the declaration to be captured by the British just because he signed. Several others were captured as prisoners of war because they were also in the army.

2: All prisoners of the British were given the option to sign the document that would set them free with the expectation by the British that many would switch sides after signing. Many signed the same document that Stockton did, but very few switched sides. Stockton was one of those who did not. Most signed, got out of jail, and ran away, either to go back to the Continental Army or to go home, as did Stockton. How Stockton got from jail in New York to Princeton is open to speculation. He could have ended up walking most of the way.

3: Many more prisoners died in the British prisons than soldiers died on the battlefields.

The story of the prisons and the release process is explained in “Forgotten Patriots” by Edwin Burrows. At the urging of his friends, and to make his allegiance to the declaration clear, Stockton later recanted his signing of the jail release document. But his wife and children were a major concern. His six children ranged in age from 3 to 17. The family depended on his income as a lawyer. Stockton did not live to see the war’s end. He died of cancer at the age of 50.

Dick Snedeker

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