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Influencing Citizen Abraham Clark

By David Streater, Ph.D.

Burke County, NCDavid Streater Burke County foundation forward charters of freedom


This is an American history educational moment of those who made a difference during the Revolutionary War era and how they served our Country.

Abraham Clark was born into a modest farming family on February 15, 1726.  As a youth in poor health, he was not able to perform farm work. Even though Abraham had a limited education due to his parent’s meager income, he excelled in math, leading him to be a surveyor.  Later, he became an attorney and took pride in representing the indigent.  During the mid-1700s, Clark served as a New Jersey legislator.  Afterward, he was a high sheriff for the English Crown.

Abraham replaced an incumbent congressional delegate who was against independence.  Even though Clark was a patriot, he opposed the United States Constitution until the Bill of Rights was included.  Regarding the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War, Clark wrote, “We can die but once.  It is gone so far that we must now be a free independent State or a conquered Country”.

During the Revolutionary War, the British retaliated against Clark for signing the Declaration of Independence.  As revenge, his two sons were incarcerated as prisoners of war in deplorable conditions while being tortured.  After the War, Clark resumed practicing law and politics.

As a Congressman, Abraham recommended the word “Liberty” be on United States coins.  Other legislators were in favor of having presidential pictures.  As a tribute to Clark, Congress approved his idea, and to this day all United States coins have “Liberty” printed on them.

In 1794, at the age of 68, Abraham Clark died at his birthplace of Roselle, New Jersey, from a sunstroke.  Because of his love for America, Clark’s epitaph reads, “He loved his country, and adhered to her cause, in the darkest hours of her struggles against oppression”.

Please visit your Charters of Freedom setting in most western North Carolina counties.  A Charters of Freedom setting consists of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  They are on permanent display analogous to the Charters of Freedom in the National Archives, Washington, DC.  Please visit our website ( to learn more about our existing settings.

All teachers are encouraged to contact Dr. Streater for information and complementary student education materials to enhance experiential field trips to a Charter of Freedom settings.  Everyone is welcome and urged to obtain a personalized engraved legacy paver for placement at their local Charters of Freedom setting.  Please contact Dr. Streater ( for engraved legacy paver information and complementary educational materials.


Dr. David Streater is the director of education for Foundation Forward.  He is a retired college instructor and administrator, and a retired probation and parole officer/administrator.  David is a criminologist who has an acute history interest, served in the Navy, and is a resident of Burke County, NC.

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Read more about our founding fathers HERE.