Hewes, Joseph (1730–1779), 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, 1766–75, and of the Continental Congress, 1774–77 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.