Saturday, July 5, 2008
What could be better for someone who studies history and cemeteries than an Independence Day visit to the grave of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence?! Not much, I imagine. Hence, I set off yesterday morning to visit Hillsborough--a really charming town and close enough to Chapel Hill that it's still affordable to drive there. Hillsborough is where Thomas Ruffin lived and where several of the "Regulators" were hanged after their rebellion was put down in 1771.
In the church yard of the Hillsborough Presbyterian Church, Thomas Hooper--a signer of the Declaration--was buried in 1790. Was buried is the operative term--he was exhumed and reburied in Greensboro in 1894 (as part of the creation of a park to commemorate a Revolutionary War battle fought there). I'm not a huge fan of reburials to create a new park--seems like the attempt to "manufacture" gravitas--and it's done at the expense of a dead person, who obviously can't object. But then if the relevant family members are ok with it, that's all that's required by law.
Anyway, the church yard is lovely and I saw the place where Hooper had been buried. (He's a pretty interesting guy, btw--born in Boston and educated at Boston Latin School and Harvard, then trained in law with James Otis and relocated to North Carolina in the 1760s. Hooper was initially closely tied to the colonial government, then slowly came over the Revolutionary cause, and after the war was a Federalist.)