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|Founding Documents||Declaration of Independence|
Francis Lewis (March 21, 1713 – December 31, 1802) is a Founding Father of America. He was an enterprising merchant of New York. In his export business, he became a prisoner of France during the French and Indian War. Lewis would sign the Declaration of Independence as a New York delegate to the Continental Congress.
Francis Lewis was born to Morgan and Anne Lewis in Llandaff, Wales. Both his parents died by the time he was five and he would be raised by a loving aunt. She sought to give young Francis the best education, and sent him to the prestigious Westminster School of London. Also, he served as an apprentice at the London Mercantile.
At age twenty-one, he sailed to New York City in 1735 and began an export business together with Edward Annesley. Lewis resided in Philadelphia for two-years then returned to New York. Francis married his business partners' sister Elizabeth Annesley, and eventually they had seven children.
In the course of his business transactions, he traveled a considerable part of the continent of Europe, Russia, and south to Africa. Lewis became a supplier to the British army and was docked at Oswego during the French and Indian War. The French captured Oswego and Lewis was imprisoned. First, he was given over to the Indians. Then he was sent to France. He would be released in a prisoner swap and returned to America.
Lewis retired from business at the age of fifty-two, "one of the most opulent men in New York."  In 1774, he became a delegate to New York's provincial convention. He was among the first to join an association called the "Sons of Liberty." Lewis would be elected to the Continental Congress. At first he considered reconciliation with Britain. Then, Lewis sided with his country and independence, he would sign the Declaration.
The Lewis family moved to Whitestone, New York. After the Declaration, the British would destroy his house and possessions. His wife was taken prisoner for over a year before being released. During the course of her captivity, she was treated very harshly. She was given very little food and not allowed a change of clothing.
Death and legacy
Elizabeth was severely traumatized from being a prisoner and died two-years after her release. Little is recorded of subsequent years after the war. His later years were spent in comparative poverty, his fortune having been lost in the war. Lewis died in New York City on December 31, 1802, at the age of eighty-nine.
One of his sons Morgan served in the Revolutionary War, Attorney General of New York, and later served as Governor.