Ben Carson Says No Signer Of The Declaration Of Independence Ever Held Office

In a post on his campaign site, Ben Carson compiled some answers to his followers’ questions on Facebook last week. One of the questions asked whether his political inexperience was going to be a challenge for him. His answer was edited several times, but the essence was that men and women with government experience are the last people we should be electing. This fits in with his dubious argument that he is the superior choice because he isn’t your typical politician.

Bill Maher made fun of Carson for being an amateur on this week’s “Real Time” by comparing the presidential candidate to a plumber. The comedian jokingly described what a Carson supporter might do if his toilet ever got backed up. “The shit’s about to back up in here, what we need is an outsider!” Maher also asked the logical question, “If neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson really believes that somebody with zero governing experience is qualified to be president, he must first let someone with zero medical training operate on his brain.”

So, when Carson took to Facebook to promote his lack of political experience, he instead proved he has about as much understanding of American history and government as a middle school student. Perhaps even less so. (emphasis is mine)

“You are absolutely right — I have no political experience,” Carson wrote in the Facebook post that has now been edited. “The current Members of Congress have a combined 8,700 years of political experience. Are we sure political experience is what we need. Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience. What they had was a deep belief that freedom is a gift from God. They had a determination to rise up against a tyrannical King. They were willing to risk all they had, even their lives, to be free.”

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To try to salvage his answer the post was rewritten to now read:

“Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no federal elected office experience. What they had was a deep belief that freedom is a gift from God. They had a determination to rise up against a tyrannical King.”

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This assertion from Carson earned him the extra special “liar, liar pants on fire, rating” from PolitiFact. Even in the final edited version of Carson’s post his point is still incorrect. There was no official federal government, so, there couldn’t be a federally elected official. However, local governments were set up to keep law and order. In fact, 28 of the 58 signers of the Declaration of Independence were office holders.

Many people throughout the years have advocated having professions other than lawyers or lifetime politicians in elected office. Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks that there should be more scientists in Congress. Others have suggested there should be more service members in office. But presumably each of these potential officials must have some kind of knowledge of how a bill becomes a law, the basic history of our nation, and some understanding of existing laws and how they work. That’s not true in Carson’s case. Sadly.

PolitiFact kindly listed them:

John Adams. Elected to Massachusetts Assembly, 1770; attended First Continental Congress, 1774-1776.

Thomas Jefferson. Represented Albemarle County as a delegate in the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1769-1775

Benjamin Franklin. Philadelphia councilman, 1748; elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly, 1751.

John Hancock. Elected to the Boston Assembly, 1766; president of the provincial congress of Massachusetts, c. 1773; elected to the Continental Congress, 1774, and then president of the congress in 1775.

Samuel Adams. Elected to Massachusetts Assembly, 1765; delegate to the First Continental Congress, 1774.

Elbridge Gerry. Elected to Massachusetts Legislature, 1773; provincial Congress, 1774.

Roger Sherman. Elected to Connecticut General Assembly, representing New Milford, 1755-1758 and 1760-1761; elected to various offices representing New Haven in the 1760s and 1770s; elected to the Continental Congress starting in 1774.

Caesar Rodney. Elected to Delaware Colonial Assembly, 1758-1770 and 1771-1776; delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, 1765; elected to the Continental Congress, 1774.

George Taylor. Elected to Pennsylvania provincial assembly, 1764-69; elected to Continental Congress, 1775.

John Morton. Elected to Pennsylvania provincial assembly, 1756-1775; delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, 1765; president of the provincial assembly, 1775.

George Ross. Elected to Pennsylvania provincial assembly, 1768-1776; Elected to Continental Congress, 1774.

James Wilson. Elected to Pennsylvania provincial congress, 1775; elected to the Continental Congress, 1775.

Thomas McKean. Member of the Delaware Assembly, 1762-79; Delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, 1765; delegate to the Continental Congress, 1774.

Matthew Thornton. Member of the New Hampshire provincial assembly, 1758-1762.

William Whipple. Elected to New Hampshire provincial congress, 1775 and 1776.

Stephen Hopkins. Speaker of the Rhode Island Assembly,1750s; member of the Continental Congress beginning in 1774.

Lewis Morris. Member of New York provincial legislature; delegate to the Continental Congress, 1775.

Philip Livingston. Alderman, New York City.

Carter Braxton. Virginia House of Burgesses, 1770-1785; delegate to the Continental Congress, 1774-75.

Thomas Nelson Jr. Member of the House of Burgesses, 1774; Virginia provincial convention, 1775.

Francis Lightfoot Lee. Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses 1758-1775; elected to Continental Congress, 1775.

Benjamin Harrison. Elected to Virginia House of Burgesses, 1764; member of the Continental Congress, 1774.

George Wythe. Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1755-65.

William Hooper. Elected to general assembly of North Carolina, 1773; member of Continental Congress, 1774-1776.

Joseph Hewes. Member of the colonial assembly of North Carolina, 1766-1775; member of new provincial assembly, 1775; elected to Continental Congress, 1774.

John Hart. Member of the New Jersey Assembly, 1761-1771; member of provincial assembly, 1775; elected to the Continental Congress, 1776.

William Williams. Town clerk, selectman, provincial representative, elected state legislator, delegate to colonial conferences, 1770s.

William Paca. Delegate to the Maryland Legislature, 1771; elected to Continental Congress, 1774.

Feature image via Wikimedia commons.