Anne Chase

Wife of Declaration of Independence Signer Samuel Chase

Anne Baldwin was born in Annapolis, Maryland, daughter of Thomas Baldwin and his wife Agnes. Samuel Chase was born on April 17, 1741, in Somerset County, Maryland. His father, Thomas Chase, was a British-born clergyman for the Church of England. His mother, Matilda Walker Chase, died when he was born. In 1744, Samuel and his father moved to Baltimore, where Samuel grew up and received a classical education under his father’s supervision.

Anne Baldwin Chase
With her daughters Anne and Matilda
Charles Willson Peale, 1772

Chase studied law in Annapolis, Maryland, at the office of Attorney John Hall from 1759 until he was admitted to the bar in 1763. William Paca was a fellow student of Samuel’s in the office of Hammond & Hall, and there began a friendship which lasted their entire lives. The two young men became members of the Provincial Legislature the same year and together were sent to the Continental Congress.

In May 1762, Samuel Chase married Anne Baldwin, and they settled in Annapolis, where they had seven children, three sons and four daughters, three of whom died in infancy. Samuel was twenty-one years old at the time of his marriage, and had just completed his legal studies.

Chase established a lucrative law practice in Annapolis, and began taking an active interest in public affairs that was later to make him an uncompromising patriot. He practiced law at the Mayor’s Court in Annapolis and appeared before other courts throughout the County. In 1764, he was elected to the Maryland Assembly as a representative of Annapolis, where he served until 1784.

An early and active opponent of the British crown, at the young age of 24, Chase openly challenged the right of the English Parliament to tax the Colonies without their consent. In reaction to the Stamp Act of 1765, the Sons of Liberty, of which Chase was most active member, forcibly opened the public offices in Annapolis, seized and destroyed the hated stamps. The stamp distributor or agent was burned in effigy.

Chase’s activities in these riotous demonstrations caused him to be denounced by the city officials as a “busy, restless incendiary, and ringleader of mobs, a foul-mouthed and inflaming son of discord and faction, a common disturber of the public tranquility, and a promoter of the lawless excesses of the multitude.” Chase admitted his participation but maintained that the so called mob was composed of “men of reputation and merit” superior to the court officials. This was a bold stand for a young man to take against the authorities in the Colony.

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Mary Chew

Wife of Declaration Signer William Paca

Mary Chew was born in 1736 at Anne Arundel County, Maryland, into one of Maryland’s most prominent families. She was the daughter of Samuel and Henrietta Lloyd Chew, and a direct descendant of John Chew, who arrived at Jamestown in 1622 on the ship Charitie.

William Paca was born on October 31, 1740, at his family’s home near Abingdon, in the British colony of Maryland. He was the second son of John Paca – a wealthy planter of Italian descent. William was a member of the fourth generation of Paca men in Maryland, his great-grandfather Robert having emigrated in the 1640s. William was educated in Philadelphia, graduating from the College of Philadelphia in 1759 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

William Paca

In the early summer of 1759, Paca returned to Maryland and settled in Annapolis and studied law for two years under Stephen Bordley, one of the colony’s most prominent lawyers. In 1761, Paca traveled to England to complete his studies and spent two years at the Inner Temple in London. Upon his return to Annapolis, Paca was admitted to the Bar, and began his legal career on October 27, 1761, when he was admitted to practice law in Annapolis Mayor’s Court. He eventually qualified to practice in several county courts, as well as the more prestigious provincial courts.

Mary Chew married William Paca on May 26, 1763. She was a girl of considerable wealth, and their marriage ensured his position among the Maryland gentry. William was a young lawyer who had just been elected a member of the Maryland Provincial Assembly. Mary gave birth to three children, but only one child survived to adulthood, a son named John born March 17, 1771.

During the 1760s, Paca took an active role in Maryland politics. With fellow attorney Samuel Chase, he led local protests in 1765 against the Stamp Act and organized the Anne Arundel County chapter of the Sons of Liberty. An ardent patriot, Paca preferred to work behind the scenes, writing newspaper articles, and leaving the speeches and rabble rousing to others. He and Chase made a terrific team, with Paca writing many of the speeches that Chase would make.

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Martha Huntington

Wife of Declaration Signer Samuel Huntington

Martha Devotion, oldest daughter of Reverend Ebenezer and Martha Lathrop Devotion, was born in 1740. Samuel Huntington was born on July 16, 1731, at Windham, Connecticut, the fourth of ten children. His father, Nathaniel Huntington, son of one of the founders of the town, settled along the banks of Merrick’s Brook near the center of Windham. There he and his wife Mehetabel raised their large family on a 400-acre farm and played an active role in the community.

Samuel Huntington

Nathaniel, as befitting his status as eldest son, was sent to Yale College, and became a Congregational minister in Ellington. Second son Samuel watched several of his brothers attend college, while he worked on the farm. He was much more inclined to studies, and would probably have been happier going to Yale himself. He began studying in his spare time with the encouragement of the Reverend Ebenezer Devotion, the family minister who lived nearby.

Samuel expanded his reading, studying law, perhaps using books borrowed from two Windham lawyers. On December 2, 1754, he was admitted to the bar in Windham, and by 1760 he had moved to the larger town of Norwich, where there was ample work for the young lawyer.

Martha Devotion married Samuel Huntington on April 17, 1761, and they settled in Norwich, where they had numerous influential relatives to help them along, including the Lathrops, Huntingtons and other prominent families. Samuel’s previous visits to the parson’s library probably also have served as visits to Reverend Devotion’s daughter Martha, since Samuel married her as soon as he had established himself with a home and steady income. She was twenty-two years old at the time of their marriage; he was thirty.

Few marriages have brought together two more congenial spirits. Blessed with no children of their own, they were the more a care and joy to each other. Their home was felt to be a home to all who had the good fortune to enjoy its hospitalities, and they frequently played host to a large circle of relatives and friends, made welcome with a cheer as bountiful as it was spontaneous.

Huntington built up an extended legal practice in Norwich, handling a variety of cases, and soon earned a solid reputation. He often represented the town in county court, and his practice increased to include several out-of-state clients, concerned with business in Connecticut. He began to take an active part in political affairs of the province. Politics was no novelty to Martha, because her father was ardently interested in the politics of Connecticut and represented Windham in the General Assembly from 1760 until 1771.

In a surprisingly short time, Norwich asked Samuel to represent them at the General Assembly. The same year, 1765, he was appointed by the General Assembly for the first of nine years as Justice of the Peace in Norwich, and also became a selectman. About the same time, he was appointed a King’s Attorney. Nine years later, Samuel’s conscience caused him to resign from this post and turn his back on what might have been a bright and comfortable future in the employment of the King.

Instead, Samuel Huntington became a patriot and dedicated his life to public service. In less than a decade, Samuel was receiving notice on a larger scale. The General Assembly appointed him an Assistant Judge of the Superior Court in 1773 and continued him in the position until 1784, when he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Errors. Although personal information about Huntington is limited, he was apparently ambitious but not arrogant. Well-connected, and with an ability to diplomatically get things done by persuasion or compromise, he gained the approval of freemen, as well as of the elite who governed the colony.

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Hannah Jack Thornton

Wife of Declaration Signer Dr. Matthew Thornton

Hannah Jack was born in 1742, daughter of Andrew and Mary Morrison Jack of Chester, New Hampshire. Her family had emigrated from Londonderry, Ireland, but they were originally Scottish. Matthew Thornton was born in 1714 in Northern Ireland, and was brought to this country at the age of three years by his parents, James and Elizabeth Jenkins Thornton. Their family is said to have been among the 120 families who in five small ships, arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 17, 1718, and in the fall of that year went to Maine. When their ship landed in Maine in mid-winter, the passengers had no place to live, so they remained aboard ship.

American Patriot
Dr. Matthew Thornton
Six of the 56 signers belatedly penned their signatures, eight of them were foreign-born, and four were physicians. Matthew Thornton belongs in all three categories.

The Thornton family settled first outside Brunswick, Maine, on a plot of land overlooking Maquoit Bay. In 1720, Brunswick was an outpost on the frontline that stood between the aspirations and momentum of three major cultures, each of which was seeking its own territory. This triangle of struggle consisted of:
The English in Boston and Falmouth to the West
The Native American peoples to the North and in the interior
The French of Acadia, Nova Scotia and the St. Lawrence to the East

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Katharine Moffatt Whipple

Wife of Declaration Signer William Whipple

Katharine Moffat was born in 1734 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the daughter of John Moffat, who came to America as a ship captain engaged in the timber trade. About 1724, John Moffat had married a young woman of means named Katharine Cutt, and through trade and land speculation, they became one of New Hampshire’s wealthiest couples. Of their five children, four survived – three daughters and one son.

William Whipple was born January 14, 1730, in Kittery, Maine, son of Captain William and Mary Cutt Whipple. His mother was the daughter of Robert Cutts, a wealthy and distinguished ship-builder, who established himself at Kittery, and at his death left her a handsome fortune. Young Whipple was educated at a common school until he went to sea as a cabin boy in his fourteenth year.

William Whipple’s great-grandfather Robert Cutt settled in the Portsmouth area prior to 1649 and established the Kittery shipyard. His great grand-uncle John Cutt was New Hampshire’s first President and his great-great-grandfather Richard Cutt was a member of the British Parliament from Essex in the 1650s. He was born in the Cutt mansion, built about 1660 on the east bank of the Piscataqua River a few rods from the water and about a mile from the river’s mouth.

By the age of twenty-one, Whipple commanded a ship of his own. For several years, he devoted himself to the merchant marine business, plying the Atlantic carrying wood to the West Indies, rum to Africa, and slaves back to Portsmouth. Whipple was very successful, and he acquired a considerable fortune.

At age 29, he gave up the seafaring life, sold his boat, and moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. There, in partnership with his brother Joseph, Whipple established himself as a merchant, and that venture was also prosperous. As a merchant, he became a victim of the British trade restrictions of the 1760s, and an early adherent to the Patriot cause in Portsmouth.

In 1763, Katharine Moffatt’s only brother, Samuel, married and moved into the mansion John Moffatt built for his son. At first, Samuel and his young wife Sarah Catherine did well. The floor plan of their home gave it an impressive entrance, one well suited to lavish entertaining. They traveled through town in a four-wheeled carriage, and their friends and Samuel’s business associates were from the first families of the colony.

Unfortunately, Samuel Moffatt’s business affairs did not go well. He undertook several shipping ventures, including an ill-fated voyage to Africa to obtain slaves, with his brother-in-law Peter Livius. When most of the enslaved cargo of the ship Triton died during the passage to the West Indies, Livius declared that his share of the cost of the voyage was a loan, rather than an investment, and sued Samuel for his losses. It was this lawsuit that finally caused Samuel’s financial ruin. Samuel fled the colony aboard the ship Diana, in the company of his cousin William Whipple, to the Dutch-held island of St. Eustatius, where Samuel was able to escape his creditors and work to rebuild his fortune.

In a bold move designed to thwart Livius’ efforts, John Moffatt sued Samuel for the amount he had advanced to his son to establish his mercantile business. John had never transferred the deed to the house to Samuel, so it was Samuel’s moveable goods that were sold at auction to satisfy his debt to his father.

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Hannah Floyd

Wife of Declaration Signer William Floyd

Image: William Floyd House
Mastic Beach, Long Island
Now part of Fire Island National Park

Hannah Jones was born in February 1739, the daughter of William Jones of Southampton, Long Island, Island, New York. William Floyd was born on December 17, 1734, the son of Nicoll and Tabitha Floyd, on their prosperous plantation at Mastic, Long Island, New York. His father, a rich and respectable landholder of Welsh ancestry, kept the children busy with chores. As a result, William’s education consisted only of informal instruction at home.

In 1754, William’s father and mother died within 2 months of each other, and he inherited the Floyd estate on Long Island, along with the responsibility of caring for his brothers and sisters. The property was highly productive, with grains, forage, vegetables; and well stocked with cattle and fruit trees. Fronting on the Atlantic Ocean, the property also had a shipping dock used for trade, and access to fishing, oysters, and a variety of seafood. His accounts tell us that he dealt widely with carpenters, brick masons, farriers, butchers, and a variety of tradespeople.

William Floyd married Hannah Jones on August 20, 1760. Little is known of the young woman beyond the fact that she was a well-brought-up girl, who helped care for William’s family and assisted in managing the plantation. By 1767, they had three children: one son and two daughters. Nicoll Floyd, the oldest of the children, married Phebe Gelston of New York. Mary Floyd married Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge of Litchfield, Connecticut, and Catharine married Dr. Samuel Clarkson of Philadelphia.

As a wealthy landowner, Floyd acquired stature and influence in his community. His manor house was the meeting place of an extensive circle of connections and acquaintances, including many persons from distinguished families with excellent formal educations, and Floyd absorbed much knowledge through them.

Hannah Floyd was a public-spirited and patriotic woman, and upheld uncomplainingly the course her husband pursued. From the moment Floyd began to take part in public life, Hannah was left with the management of his affairs. He was town trustee (1769-71), and moved up in the ranks of the Suffolk County militia to the rank of colonel.

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Elizabeth Corbin Braxton

Wife of Declaration Signer Carter Braxton

Carter Braxton

Elizabeth Tayloe Corbin was born in 1747 at her family plantation, Middlesex, in King William County, Virginia. She was the eldest daughter of a British colonel who was the Receiver of Customs in Virginia for the King.

Carter Braxton was born on September 10, 1736, into a wealthy family at Newington, a tobacco plantation in King and Queen County, Virginia. He was the son of George Braxton, a wealthy planter and merchant. His mother was the daughter of Robert “King” Carter, a prominent landowner and politician, who was for some time a member and the president of the King’s Council.

Carter was liberally educated at the College of William and Mary and, while still in his teens, inherited the large family estate, consisting chiefly of land and slaves. His estate was increased greatly when he was married at age nineteen to the daughter of Christopher Robinson, a wealthy planter in Middlesex County; she died during childbirth two years later, leaving him two daughters. Soon thereafter he sailed to England, and stayed for more than two years.

Carter Braxton returned to America in 1760, and in 1761 he married Elizabeth Corbin. They lived in great splendor in richly furnished mansions on two of his plantations, and produced a total of sixteen children, though only ten children survived infancy.

In 1761, Carter Braxton was appointed to represent King William County in the Virginia House of Burgesses. In 1765, he supported Patrick Henry’s Stamp Act Resolutions; the imposition of import taxes was adversely affecting his own business interests.

In March 1773, when the House of Burgesses recommended the formation of a Committee of Correspondence to communicate with the other American colonies, Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of the colony of Virginia, immediately dissolved the Virginia Assembly. Many of burgesses gathered a short distance away at the Raleigh Tavern, and continued discussing their problems with the new taxes and the lack of representation in England.

At this time, colonists in Massachusetts were also at sharp odds with the British, and punitive action had been taken. As a gesture of support, the reconvened House of Burgesses passed a resolution making June 1, 1774, a day of fasting and prayer in Virginia. In response, Dunmore again dissolved the Assembly.

Braxton immediately joined the Patriot’s Committee of Safety, and he was elected to the first Virginia Convention that met in Williamsburg after Lord Dunmore’s dissolution of the assembly. In March 1775, the delegates adopted measures for the defense of the country, agreed to break off commercial association with Britain, and encouraged domestic production of textiles, iron, and gunpowder.

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Laura Collins Wolcott

Wife of Declaration Signer Oliver Wolcott

Laura Collins Wolcott
Ralph Earl, Artist

Laura Collins was born on January 1, 1731, the daughter of Captain Daniel and Lois Cornwall Collins of Guilford, Connecticut. She was descended from the first settlers, and brought up in the manner of Connecticut girls of well-to-do families of that day.

The National Cyclopedia of American Biography says of her:

She was a woman of almost masculine strength of mind, energetic and thrifty; and while Governor Wolcott was away from home, attended to the management of their farm, educated their younger children, and made it possible for her husband to devote his energies to his country.

Oliver Wolcott was born on November 20, 1726, at South Windsor, Connecticut. He was the youngest son of Roger Wolcott, a Royal Governor of Connecticut from 1751 to 1754. Oliver graduated from Yale College in 1747 at the top of his class, and immediately began his military career. He was commissioned to raise a militia company to fight in the French and Indian War, and he served the King as captain in this unit on the northern frontier.

Back home, he studied medicine under his brother, Dr. Alexander Wolcott, but when he had just completed his studies, he was appointed sheriff of the newly-organized county of Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1751. This was the first of a long string of county and state offices: county sheriff (1751-71); member of the lower house (1764, 1767-68, and 1770) and upper house (1771-86) of the colonial and State legislatures; and probate (1772-81) and county (1774-78) judge. By 1774, he had risen to the rank of colonel in the militia.

Laura Collins married Oliver Wolcott on January 21, 1755, of Guilford, Connecticut. Oliver brought his new bride to his home in the old town of Litchfield. Five children were born to Laura Wolcott and her husband, three sons and two daughters; one son died in infancy; the other children were as follows: Oliver, born 1760; Laura, born 1761; Mary Ann, born 1765; and Frederick, born 1767.

The Wolcotts enjoyed a loving marriage for almost forty years, despite the fact that Oliver spent many of those years away from home, helping to give birth to a new nation. During many of these years, almost the entire burden of directing his domestic affairs rested on his wife’s shoulders. During his long absences, Laura Wolcott cared for and educated their four children, and by her prudence and frugality provided the necessities of life for her family.

Laura Wolcott’s patriotism was as strong as that of her husband. And while Oliver Wolcott gave freely of his money for the support of the Continental Army, Laura furnished blankets, stockings, and supplies from their farm for the army, almost continuously. She made her home a place of comfort and tranquility, which was always open to anyone serving the patriotic cause, even during the war.

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Elizabeth Lynch

Founding Father Thomas Lynch Jr.

Wife of Declaration Signer Thomas Lynch Jr.

Elizabeth Shubrick was born on February 5, 1749, in South Carolina. She would become the childhood sweetheart of Thomas Lynch, Jr., who was born on August 5, 1749, at Hopsewee Plantation on the North Santee River, Prince George’s Parish, Winyah, South Carolina. Jonack Lynch, the great-grandfather of Lynch, Jr., emigrated from Ireland and worked a small farm in the low country along the Atlantic coast, but had only modest financial success. At his death, he left his son Thomas his property and a little money, which was used to buy land and cultivate rice, which was to bring him a fortune.

Hopsewee Plantation was built by the Lynch family between 1733 and 1740, and was chosen for the family home of Thomas Lynch, Sr. Hopsewee overlooks the Santee River and the rice fields, which were its source of income until the Civil War. Thomas Lynch Sr. was married to Elizabeth Allston of Brookgreen Plantation, and they had two daughters Sabina (1747) and Esther (1748) and one son, Thomas Lynch, Jr. After Elizabeth Allston died, Lynch Sr. married Hannah Motte, and they had a daughter, Elizabeth in 1755.

Thomas Lynch, Sr. was a distinguished public servant and one of the most important Santee River planters. In 1751, he was the delegate elected to the Commons House of Assembly from Prince George, Winyah Parish, where he served with the exception of one term until his death.

Thomas Lynch, Jr. attended the Indigo Society School at nearby Georgetown, South Carolina. His father then sent him to England to take advantage of the educational opportunities in that country. The younger Lynch attended Eton College, earned a degree at Cambridge University, and studied law in London. He observed the hoity-toity attitude of the British statesmen toward the colonies, and longed to be back in his native land.

In 1772, after an absence of eight or nine years, young Mr. Lynch returned to South Carolina an eminently accomplished man. Although he was qualified to practice law, he persuaded his father to allow him to become a planter.

Elizabeth married Thomas Lynch on May 14, 1772, and settled at Peach Tree Plantation about four miles south of Hopsewee, a gift from his father, who by this time had become a fervent revolutionary. Lynch Jr. devoted himself to cultivating the plantation and took part in the public discussions of colonial grievances.

Thomas Lynch Sr. served on the Stamp Act Congress, and in 1774 was elected to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia. He was highly esteemed by the founding fathers, and in October, 1775, he was appointed with Benjamin Franklin and Colonel Benjamin Harrison as advisors to General George Washington.

As the son of a wealthy and influential father, Lynch Jr. was soon called upon to serve in many important civil offices. He was elected to the First Provincial Congress from his parish in 1774 and reelected in 1775. In February 1776, he was chosen to serve on the Committee of 11, who would prepare a constitution for South Carolina, and served on the first state General Assembly.

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Mary Bartlett

Wife of Declaration Signer Dr. Josiah Bartlett

Mary Bartlett was born in 1730 in the town of Newton, New Hampshire, one of ten children. Her father, Joseph Bartlett, had been made captive by the French and Indians in 1707, and carried to Canada and held there for four years. Mary Bartlett grew into a lady of excellent character.

 Josiah Bartlett was born in on November 21, 1729, to shoemaker Stephen and Hannah (Webster) Bartlett in Amesbury, Massachusetts. He was their fifth child and fourth son. He attended the common schools, but with uncommon success. By the age of sixteen, he had built a foundation in Latin and learned some Greek. In 1745, Josiah began to study medicine, working in the office of Dr. James Ordway of Amesbury, and used the libraries of Dr. Ordway and neighboring towns to supplement his medical knowledge.

Bartlett gained recognition locally by successfully treating diphtheria patients with a new procedure, Peruvian bark (quinine), and by the application of cooling liquids to temper fever. He became renowned for relying on observation and experimentation in the diagnosis and treatment of his patients.

In 1750, before turning twenty-one, Josiah moved ten miles north to Kingston, New Hampshire, and began his medical practice. By hard work, determination, and luck became a man of property and influence. Kingston at that time was a frontier settlement of only a few hundred families. If a man could stitch wounds, set bones, and treat fevers, he was welcome, even without formal educational credentials. As the only doctor in this part of the county, Josiah’s practice prospered, and he purchased land and added a farm to his credit.

On January 15, 1754, Mary married Dr. Josiah Bartlett, her first cousin. Mary was then twenty-four years old, an amiable girl, and well educated for the time. For the next ten years, Mary’s life was that of the wife of a popular and prosperous young country doctor. They would remain a devoted couple until her death in 1789. Dr. Bartlett had a large family, and built a large home in Kingston. He was democratic, kindly, and fast growing in the esteem of his fellow citizens.

Twelve children were born to Dr. and Mrs. Bartlett, of whom eight grew to maturity: Mary (1754), Lois (1756), Miriam (1758), Rhoda (1760), Hannah (who died as an infant in 1762), Levi (1763), Josiah (1765, died that same year), Josiah (1768), Ezra (1770), Sarah (1773), Hannah (1776, also died as an infant), and a child that was never registered. Three sons, Levi, Joseph, and Ezra, followed in their father’s footsteps and became eminent physicians, and all three of them took considerable interest in public affairs, and held positions of honor and responsibility.

The Bartlett Letters
Mary Bartlett left us a priceless heritage in letters that have been carefully preserved. Unusually well educated for the times, Mary wrote regularly to Dr. Bartlett while he was attending the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1775 and 1776. Her letters show that she not only wanted to keep her husband informed, she also wanted to ask his advice.

With Josiah gone, there was no medical help available for emergencies, and Mary expressed her worries about the children and about her own health. Her letters are full of accounts of the children’s ailments – Sally’s colic or worms, Ezra’s “canker and scarlet fever,” Rhoda’s fainting spells, Lois’s pain in head and sore throat. “Miriam,” she wrote on September 24th, “has been poorly,” probably because she took “a cold bath in the sea” – and added that dysentery was very prevalent.

Mary also reported on her own “sick headaches,” and on September 9, 1776, begged (concerning her pregnancy), “Pray do come home before cold weather. As you know, my circumstances will be difficult in the winter – if I am alive.” But letters often took more than four months to reach their destination.

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