On this day in 1734, Patriot and politician Thomas McKean is born in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
McKean was a delegate of Delaware to the Continental Congress. Thus, he signed the United States Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He was also President of the Continental Congress in 1781. McKean also served President (Governor) of Delaware, Governor of Pennsylvania, and Chief Justice of Pennsylvania.
For all that, perhaps his greatest accomplishment was sharing this redemptive advice as Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, which he did with a condemned man:
“You will probably have but a short time to live. Before you launch into eternity, it behooves you to improve the time that may be allowed you in this world. It behooves you most seriously to reflect upon your conduct, to repent of your evil deeds, to be incessant in prayers to the great and merciful God to forgive your manifold transgressions and sins, to teach you to rely upon the merit and passion of a dear Redeemer and thereby to avoid those regions of sorrow, those doleful shades where peace and rest can never dwell, where even hope cannot enter. It behooves you to seek the fellowship, advice and prayers of pious and good men, to be persistent at the throne of grace and to learn the way that leadeth to happiness. May you reflecting upon these things and pursuing the will of the great Father of Light and Life, be received into the company and society of angels and archangels and the spirits of just men made perfect and may you be qualified to enter into the joys of heaven, joys unspeakable and full of glory.”
Thomas McKean died in Philadelphia at the age of 83 in the year 1817. That seems fitting, given that the root words of Philadelphia are phileo meaning “to love” and adelphos meaning “brother.”