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Button Gwinnett

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Title: Button Gwinnett  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Gwinnett County, Georgia, Archibald Bulloch, George Walton, List of Governors of Georgia, Samuel Elbert
Collection: 1735 Births, 1777 Deaths, American Congregationalists, American People of Welsh Descent, American Politicians Killed in Duels, American Revolutionary War Deaths, Continental Congressmen from Georgia (U.S. State), Deaths by Firearm in Georgia (U.S. State), Duelling Fatalities, Georgia (U.S. State) Independents, Governors of Georgia (U.S. State), Gwinnett County, Georgia, Independent State Governors of the United States, Kingdom of Great Britain Emigrants to the Thirteen Colonies, People Educated at the King's School, Gloucester, People from Gloucestershire, People from Wolverhampton, People of Georgia (U.S. State) in the American Revolution, Signers of the United States Declaration of Independence, Welsh Emigrants to the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Button Gwinnett

Button Gwinnett
Portrait by Nathaniel Hone
2nd Governor of Georgia
In office
March 4, 1767 – May 8, 1777
Preceded by John A. Treutlen
Succeeded by Archibald Bulloch
Personal details
Born 1735
Gloucestershire, Great Britain
Died May 19, 1777
near Georgia, U.S.
Nationality British/American

Button Gwinnett (1735 – May 19, 1777) was a Gwinnett County (now a major suburb of metropolitan Atlanta) was named for him. Gwinnett was killed in a duel by a rival, Lachlan McIntosh, following a dispute after a failed invasion of East Florida.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • American Revolutionary War 2.1
  • Death 3
  • Legacy 4
  • In popular culture 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life and education

Gwinnett was born in 1735 in the parish of Down Hatherley in the county of Gloucestershire, Great Britain, to an English father, the Reverend Samuel Gwinnett and his wife, Anne. He was the third of his parents' seven children, born after his older sister, Anna Maria and his older brother, Samuel. There are conflicting reports as to his exact birth date, but he was baptized in St. Catherine's Church in Gloucester on April 10, 1735. It is believed that he attended the College School, held in Gloucester Cathedral (now called The King's School) as did his older brother but there is no surviving evidence to substantiate this. He started his career as a merchant in England. He moved to Wolverhampton in 1754 and married a local, Ann Bourne, in 1757, at St. Peter's Church at the age of 22. In 1762 the couple left Wolverhampton and emigrated to America.


Arriving first in

Political offices
Preceded by
Archibald Bulloch
Governor of Georgia
Succeeded by
John A. Treutlen
  • Button Gwinnett at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Biography of Button Gwinnett
  • Georgia Signers of the Declaration of Independence
  • New Georgia Encyclopedia
  • Biography by Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, 1856
  • Button Gwinnett at Find a Grave
  • Incredibly rare autograph of one of the 56 signatories of the U.S. Declaration of Independence is set to fetch £80,000 at auction, October 9, 2015.

External links

  1. ^ Lanman, Charles (1887). Biographical Annals of the Civil Government of the United States. New York: J. M. Morrison. p. 177. 
  2. ^ a b "Buttons Not Buttons".  
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 146. 
  4. ^ Bissell, Tom (2004). Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. Vintage. p. 13.  
  5. ^ Powell, Anthony (1973). Temporary Kings. Heinemann, London. p. 96.  


See also

  • The 1932 film Washington Merry-Go-Round stars actor Lee Tracy as Button Gwinnett Brown, a (fictitious) modern-day Congressman and descendant of Button Gwinnett. He owns a letter written and signed by his ancestor Button Gwinnett, which is worth $50,000 because (according to this movie's dialogue) only three of the original Gwinnett's letters still survive, and this is one of them. This fictitious document is destroyed during the film's action; the film also includes a close-up of the real Gwinnett's signature on the Declaration of Independence.
  • Isaac Asimov wrote a science-fiction short-story named "Button! Button!", featuring a Time travel plot in which a collector may take possession of Gwinnett's signature on the Declaration of Independence.
  • The plot of the television series Mannix "A Button for General D" (season 5 episode 10) deals with locating a hidden fortune – a Button Gwinnett signature.
  • In the 2008 role-playing game Fallout 3, a Protectron robot wearing a powdered wig as part of a pre-war animatronic show has been left online in the National Archives and due to a memory malfunction believes itself to be the real Gwinnett, and appears to believe Great Britain is still attempting to invade, as his casual use of the word Redcoats indicates. It will challenge the player to a duel or otherwise resist him if the player attempts to seize the copy of the Declaration of Independence that it is guarding. If the player manages to convince the robot that they are Thomas Jefferson, it will submit.[4]
  • In Season 1 of Mr. Show, Button Gwinnett was played by Jack Plotnick in a skit surrounding the origin of the American flag's design. Gwinnett was portrayed as a pitiable stooge.
  • Stephen Colbert has referenced Gwinnett in both airings of the segment "Better Know A Founder" featuring impersonators of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, joking that Gwinnett would be interviewed in a future segment.
  • In the movie The Last Hurrah (1958), the character Mayor Frank Skeffington (portrayed by Spencer Tracy) indicates that his signature will never be as valuable as Button Gwinnett's.
  • Gwinnett and his signature were featured on an episode of the public radio program Radiolab.[2]
  • Professor Russell Gwinnett is a character descended from Button Gwinnett who first appears in the penultimate volume of Anthony Powell's 12-volume series on the 20th century, A Dance to the Music of Time. Button Gwinnett's signature is described by another character as "one of the rarest."[5]

In popular culture


Button's autograph is highly sought by collectors as a result of a combination of the desire by many top collectors to acquire a complete set of autographs by all 56 signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and the extreme rarity of the Gwinnett signature; there are 51 known examples, since Gwinnett was fairly obscure prior to signing the Declaration and died shortly afterward. Only ten of those are in private hands.[2]


Gwinnett then challenged McIntosh to a duel, which they fought on 16 May 1777. The two men exchanged pistol shots at twelve paces, and both were wounded. Gwinnett died of his wounds on 19 May 1777.[1]

In early 1777, Gwinnett and his allies gained control of the Georgia Provisional Congress, and he became acting President of the Congress and commander-in-chief of Georgia's militia. As such, he was now the superior of his rival Lachlan McIntosh. Gwinnett had McIntosh's brother arrested and charged with treason. He also ordered McIntosh to lead an invasion of British-controlled East Florida, which failed. Gwinnett and McIntosh blamed each other for the defeat, and McIntosh publicly called Gwinnett "a scoundrel and lying rascal".


Gwinnett served in the Archibald Bulloch. Gwinnett was elevated to the vacated position by the Assembly’s Executive Council. In this position, he sought to undermine the leadership of McIntosh.

Gwinnett voted in favor of the Declaration of Independence, adopted by Congress on July 2, 1776, two days before the "fair copy," dated July 4, 1776, was presented to the Congress. He signed the famous parchment copy on August 2, 1776. After signing the Declaration, he was accompanied as far as Virginia by Carter Braxton, another of the signers, carrying a proposed state constitution drawn up by John Adams. During his service in the Continental Congress, Gwinnett was a candidate for a brigadier general position to lead the 1st Regiment in the Continental Army, but lost out to Lachlan McIntosh. The loss of the position to his rival embittered Gwinnett greatly.

American Revolutionary War
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