Thomas and his father were both delegates from South Carolina to the Continental Congress in 1776 that declared independence from Great Britain. His father was well respected and appointed advisor to General Washington in 1775. Unfortunately, Thomas Sr. was struck with a cerebral hemorrhage which debilitated him to a degree. Thomas Jr. was allowed to accompany his ailing father to the Congress and at 26, was the youngest signer of the Declaration. Thomas Sr. was sadly unable to sign it. Tragically, Thomas Jr. and his wife perished when the ship they were sailing on to the West Indies was sunk in a storm.