The Carlow man who became a US founding father (and one of the biggest slave owners)

Pierce Butler was one of three Irish immigrants to sign the US Constitution in 1787

Pierce Butler was born in Ballintemple House in Co Carlow in July 1744.

Pierce Butler was born in Ballintemple House in Co Carlow in July 1744.

On September 17th, 1787, Carlow-born Pierce Butler, alongside three other Irish immigrants, assembled at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to lend his signature to the Constitution of the United States of America, one of only 40 men to do so.

Pierce Butler’s signature can be seen on the left-hand side, he was the final signatory on behalf of the state of South Carolina.
Pierce Butler’s signature can be seen on the left-hand side, he was the final signatory on behalf of the state of South Carolina.

This document, which aimed to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” seemed remarkably at odds with another article Butler had happily put his name to 15 years earlier, which appeared in the South Carolina Gazette:

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