Hewes, Joseph (1730โ€“1779), a Revolutionary War patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was born in Kingston, New Jersey. Hewes moved to Edenton, North Carolina, and became a wealthy merchant. He was a member of the colonial assembly, 1766โ€“75, and of the Continental Congress, 1774โ€“77 and 1779. As chairman of the committee on marine, he was in effect the first civilian head of the U.S. Navy, functioning much like a secretary of the navy. It was through his efforts that John Paul Jones, who became a national hero during the Revolutionary War, was given a naval commission and command of a ship.