The Fore Fathers

Declaration of Independence

 

William Whipple Robert Treat Paine William Ellery Richard Stockton
Benjamin Rush Benjamin Franklin George Walton William Hooper
John Hancock

 

The Constitution

Gunning Bedford Jr. John Blair David Bearly Jacob Broom
Daniel Carrol John Dickinson Benjamin Franklin Rufus King
George Washington *Jonathan Dayton *Dr. James McHenry *William Patterson
*John Francis Mercer *Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer *William Richard Davie Jr
* Became Masons After Signing of Constitution

 

Other Leaders of the Times

Patrick Henry

Marquis de Lafayette James Otis Paul Revere
       

 

 

Paul Revere

Paul Revere was born on January 1, 1735 in Boston, Massachusetts. He studied at the North Grammar School in Boston. He served for a short time in the French and Indian War. After the war, he married Sarah Orne and entered his father's silversmith business. Paul Revere soon became interested in the issue of American liberty. He received lots of attention from political cartoons he drew. Paul Revere was a member of the "Sons of Liberty." On December 16, 1773, he took part in the Boston Tea Party. On April 18, 1775, Revere and William Dawes were sent to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock of British plans to march from Boston to seize patriot military stores at Concord. A signal was established to warn if the British were coming by land or by sea. From the steeple of the Old North Church in Boston, two lanterns would mean the British were coming by sea, and one would mean by land. One lantern was lit. The British were coming by land. Revere left Boston around 10 PM. Along the road to Lexington, he warned residents that "the British are coming!" He arrived in Lexington around midnight riding a borrowed horse. At 1 AM, Revere, William Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott left for Concord. Revere was captured. Only Prescott got through to Concord.

Revere was released without his horse and returned to Lexington. At Lexington he joined Adams and Hancock and fled into safety in Burlington. Revere returned to rescue valuable papers in Hancock's trunk. When the British arrived on April 19, the minutemen were waiting for them. In 1778 and 1779, Revere commanded a garrison at Castle Williams in Boston Harbor. Revere left the service in disrepute.During and after the war, Revere continued his silversmith trade in Boston. He died on May 10, 1818.

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James Otis

172583, American colonial political leader, b. Barnstable co., Mass. A lawyer first in Plymouth and then in Boston, he won great distinction and served (175661) as advocate general of the vice admiralty court. He resigned to oppose the issuing of writs of assistance by the superior court of Massachusetts; the writs, which authorized customs officials to search for smuggled goods, were virtually general search warrants. Arguing eloquently before the court, Otis claimed that the writs violated the natural rights of the colonials as Englishmen and that any act of Parliament violating those rights was void. Otis lost the case but soon became the leader of the radical wing of the colonial opposition to British measures. He was elected (1761) to the colonial assembly and was made head (1764) of the Massachusetts committee of correspondence. In his speeches and pamphlets, Otis defined and defended colonial rights. He proposed and participated in the Stamp Act Congress (see Stamp Act), and his ideas were used in the protests drafted by that body. Hated by the conservatives, his election (1766) as speaker of the assembly was vetoed by the royal governor. After the passage of the Townshend Acts (1767) Otis helped Samuel Adams draft the Massachusetts circular letter to the other colonies denouncing the acts. In 1769, Otis was struck on the head during a quarrel with a commissioner of customs. He subsequently became insane and took no further part in political affairs.

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Marquis de Lafayette

Marquis de Lafayette was born on September 6, 1757. His given name was Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Mothier. His father died when he was 2 years old, and when his mother and grandfather died 11 year later, he inherited a large fortune. Lafayette, who came from a long line of solders, studied at the Military Academy in Versailles and became a captain in the French cavalry at age 16. In 1777 he purchase a ship, and with a crew of adventurers set sail for America to fight in America's Revolution against the British. He was made a major general and assigned to the staff of George Washington. Lafayette served with distinction, leading America forces to several victories. On a return visit to France in 1779 he persuaded the French government to send aid to the Americans. After the British surrender at Yorktown, Lafayette returned home to Paris. He had become a hero to the new nation. At home he cooperated closely with Ambassadors Benjamin Franklin, and then Thomas Jefferson in behalf of American interests.

After 1782 Lafayette became absorbed with questions of reform in France. He was one of the first to advocate a National Assembly, and worked toward the establishment of a constitutional monarchy during the years leading up to the French Revolution of 1791. These efforts cost him much of his support from the French nobility. As commander of the French National Guard Lafayette was forced to use force to put down crowd violence. By the 1791 he had lost most of his popularity with the people. In 1792 he tried unsuccessfully to curb radicalism against the monarchy. The King and Queen would not accept his assistance, and the troops he tried to turn on the Paris mob would not follow his orders. He was denounced as a traitor and fled the country. Lafayette returned to France in 1800 and found his personal fortune had been confiscated. In 1815 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies. As one of its vice presidents, he worked for Napoleon's abdication after the Battle of Waterloo. Lafayette became a focal point of resistance to the Bourbon kings. In 1830 be became the leader of a Revolution that dethroned the Bourbons. He refused the popular demand that he become president of the new republic, and instead helped make Louis Philippe the constitutional monarch of France. Just before his death in 1834 he began to regret his support of Philippe and support the move to a pure republic in France

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Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry embodied the spirit of American courage and patriotism. He is recognized today, as he was among his contemporaries, as thePHenry.jpg (3793 bytes) "Orator of Liberty". His compelling speeches kindled the fires of the Revolution and fueled the effort to secure freedom. During his early life, Patrick Henry made several unsuccessful attempts to find the career that would best utilize his unique talents. He was unsuccessful in the mercantile business before taking up the study of law. At the age of 27, his genius as an orator burst forward in a brilliant display of eloquence in the case of the Parson's Cause (below). In this case, he was fighting against taxation without representation in which the parsons of the Church of England tried to tax colonists who believed in other religions. Although many doubted his ability to succeed at law, he stunned the spectators and jury by the fire and eloquence of his words. The people carried him out of the courtroom in triumph. Following this case, he rose to the head of his profession.

Henry's was the first voice raised against England in her attempt to raise taxation without representation. He rose to his full stature in attacking the infamous Stamp Act, which was hotly debated at the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg in 1765. The other delegates quailed when Henry hurled defiance at George III with the challenge, "If this be treason, make the most of it." During the Second Virginia Convention, his most famous speech was delivered on March 23, 1775 at St. John's Church in Richmond. His words became the clarion call that led the colonies into Revolution. With courage and eloquence, he cried, "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.". Henry's leadership did not end once the revolution was won. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the nation was in working toward the adoption of the Bill of Rights. While desiring a more effective government, he was adamant in demanding protection of basic civil liberties.

The first governor of Virginia, Henry served five exhausting terms. In 1794, he retired to Red Hill and resumed his private legal practice. While living at Red Hill he was among the 100 wealthiest landowners in Virginia. Henry first purchased 700 acres at Red Hill; additional acquisitions brought the total acreage of the plantation to 2920. Tobacco was the chief crop at Red Hill, and corn and wheat were also grown. He owned 66 plantation slaves, 21 horses, 167 cattle, 155 hogs, and 60 sheep. Patrick Henry was a family man, having 17 children in all. Two of these children were born at Red Hill. At least six sons attended Hampden-Sydney College near Farmville, Virginia. Patrick Henry continued his successful law practice while at Red Hill. Traveling to courthouses such as Prince Edward, Charlotte, and New London, he tried both civil and criminal cases. George Washington persuaded Patrick Henry to become a candidate for the state legislature in 1799. The foundations of the young republic were endangered by the rumblings of men who argued that any state has the power to nullify acts of the Federal Government. Bowed with age and his health deteriorating, Henry delivered his last public oration. It was an inspirational, non-partisan, patriotic appeal for unity to preserve the nation. Historian Henry Adams declared that nothing in Henry's life was more noble than his last public act. Three months later, on June 6, 1799, death came to Patrick Henry. The "Voice of the Revolution" was silenced forever.

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John Hancock

The events leading to the declaration of independence, which have been rapidly passed in review, in the preceding pages, have brought us tojhancock.jpg (100257 bytes) the more particular notice of those distinguished men, who signed their names to that instrument, and thus identified themselves with the glory of this American republic. If the world has seldom witnessed a train of events of a more novel and interesting character, than those which led to the declaration of American independence, it has, perhaps, never seen a body of men, placed in a more difficult and responsible situation, than were the signers of that instrument. And certainly, the world has never witnessed a more brilliant exhibition of political wisdom, or a brighter example of firmness and courage. The first instant the American colonies gave promise of future importance and respectability, the jealousy of Great Britain was excited, and the counsels of her statesmen were employed to keep them in humble subjection. This was the object, when royalty grasped at their charters; when restrictions were laid upon their commerce and manufactures; when, by taxation, their resources were attempted to be withdrawn, and the doctrine inculcated, that it was rebellion for them to think and act for themselves.

It was fortunate for the Americans, that they understood their own rights, and had the courage to assert them. But even at the time of the declaration of independence, just ash was the cause of the colonies, it was doubtful how the contests would terminate. The chance of eventual success was against them. Less than three millions of people constituted their population, and these were scattered over a widely extended territory. They were divided into colonies, which had no political character, and no other bond of union than common sufferings, common danger, and common necessities. They had no veteran army, no navy, no arsenals filled with the munitions of war, and no fortifications on their extended coast. They had no overflowing treasuries; but in the outset, were to depend upon loans, taxation, and voluntary contributions. Thus circumstances, could success in such a contest be reasonably anticipated? Could they hope to compete with the parent country, whose strength was consolidated by the lapse of centuries, and to whose wealth and power so many millions contributed? That country directed, in a great measure, the destinies of Europe: her influence extended to every quarter of the world. Her armies were trained to the art of war; her navy rode in triumph on every sea; her statesmen were subtle and sagacious; her generals skilful and practiced. And more than all, her pride was aroused by the fact, that all Europe was an interested spectator of the scene, and was urging her forward to vindicate the policy she had adopted, and the principles which she had advanced.

But what will not union and firmness, valor and patriotism, accomplish? What will not faith accomplish? The colonies were, indeed, aware of the crisis at which they had arrived. They saw the precipice upon which they stood. National existence was at stake. Life, and liberty, and peace, were at hazard; not only of this generation which then existed, but of the unnumbered millions which were yet to be born. To heaven they could, with pious confidence, make their solemn appeal. They trusted in the arm of HIM, who had planted their fathers in this distant land, and besought HIM to guide the men, who in his providence were called to preside over their public councils. It was fortunate for them, and equally fortunate for the cause of rational liberty, that the delegates to the congress of 1776, were adequate to the great work which devolved upon them. They were not popular favorites, brought into notice during a season of tumult and violence; nor men chosen in times of tranquillity, when nothing is to be apprehended from a mistaken selection. "But they were men to whom others might cling in times of peril, and look up to in the revolution of empires; men whose countenances in marble, as on canvass, may be dwelt upon by after ages, as the history of the times. "They were legislators and senators by birth, raised up by heaven for the accomplishment of a special and important object; to rescue a people groaning under oppression; and with the aid of their illustrious compeers, destined to establish rational liberty on a new basis, in an American republic.

They, too, well knew the responsibility of their station, and the fate which awaited themselves, if not their country, should their experiment fail. They came, therefore, to the question of a declaration of independence, like men who had counted the cost; prepared to rejoice, without any unholy triumph, should God smile upon the transaction; prepared also, if defeat should follow, to lead in the way to martyrdom. A signature to the declaration of independence, without reference to general views, was, to each individual, a personal consideration of the most momentous import. It would be regarded in England as treason, and expose any man to the halter or the block. The only signature, which exhibits indications of a trembling hand, is that of Stephen Hopkins, who had been afflicted with the palsy. In this work of treason, John Hancock led the way, as president of the congress, and by the force with which he wrote, he seems to have determined that his name should never be erased. This gentleman, who, from his conspicuous station in the continental congress of 1776, claims our first notice, was born in the town of Quincy, in the state of Massachusetts, in the year 1737. Both his father and grandfather were clergy-men, distinguished for great devotion to the duties of their profession, and for the happy influence which they exercised over those to whom they ministered. Of his father it is recorded, that he evinced no common devotion to learning, to which cause he rendered essential service, by the patronage that he gave to the literary institutions of his native state. Of so judicious a counselor, young Hancock was deprived, while yet a child, but happily he was adopted by a paternal uncle, Thomas Hancock, the most opulent merchant in Boston, and the most enterprising in New-England. Mr. Thomas Hancock was a man of enlarged views; and was distinguished by his liberality to several institutions, especially to Harvard college, in which he founded a professorship, and in whose library his name is still conspicuous as a principal benefactor.

Under the patronage of the uncle, the he received a liberal education in the above university, where he was graduated in 1754. During his collegiate course, though respectable as a scholar, he was in no wise distinguished, and at that time, gave little promise of the eminence to which he afterwards arrived. On leaving college, he was entered as a clerk in the counting house of his uncle, where he continued till 1760; at which time he visited England, both for the purposes of acquiring information, and of becoming personally acquainted with the l distinguished correspondents of his patron. In 1764, he returned to America; shortly after which his uncle died, leaving to his nephew his extensive mercantile concerns, and his princely fortune, then the largest estate in the province. To a young man, only twenty-seven, this sudden possession of wealth was full of danger; and to not a few would have proved their ruin. But Hancock became neither giddy, arrogant, nor profligate; and he continued his former course of regularity, industry, and moderation. Many depended upon him, as they had done upon his uncle, for employment. To these he was kind and liberal; while in his more extended and complicated commercial transactions, he maintained a high reputation for honor and integrity. The possession of wealth, added to the upright and honorable character which he sustained, naturally gave him influence in the community, and rendered him even popular. In the legislature of Massachusetts, and this event seems to have given a direction to his future career.

He thus became associated with such individuals as Otis, Cushing, and Samuel Adams, men of great political distinction, acute discrimination, and patriotic feeling. In such an atmosphere, the genius of Hancock brightened rapidly, and he soon became conspicuous among his distinguished colleagues. It has, indeed, been asserted, that in force of genius, he was inferior to many of his contemporaries; but honorable testimony was given, both to the purity of his principles, and the excellence of his abilities, by his frequent nomination to committees, whose deliberations deeply involved the welfare of the community. The arrival of a vessel belonging to Mr. Hancock, in the year 1768, which was said to be loaded contrary to the revenue laws, has already been noticed in our introduction. This vessel was seized by the custom-house officers, and placed under the guns of the Romney, at that time in the harbor, for security. The seizure of this vessel greatly exasperated the people, and in their excitement, they assaulted the revenue officers with violence, and compelled them to seek their safety on board the armed vessel, or in a neighboring castle. The boat of the collector was destroyed, and several houses belonging to his partisans were razed to their foundation.

In these proceedings, Mr. Hancock himself was in no wise engaged; and he probably condemned them as rash and unwarrantable. But the transaction contributed greatly to bring him into notice, and to increase his popularity. This, and several similar occurrences, served as a pretext to the governor to introduce into Boston, not long after, several regiments of British troops; a measure which was fitted more than all others to irritate the inhabitants. Frequent collisions, as might be expected, soon happened between the soldiers and the citizens, the former of whom were insolent, and the latter independent. These contentions not long after broke out into acts of violence. An unhappy instance of this violence occurred on the evening of the 5th of March, 1770, at which time, a small party of British soldiers was assailed by several of the citizens, with balls of snow, and other weapons. The citizens were fired upon by order of the commanding officer: a few were killed, and several others were wounded. Although the provocation was given by the citizens, the whole town was simultaneously aroused to seek redress. At the instigation of Samuel Adams, and Mr. Hancock, an assembly of the citizens was convened the following day, and these two gentlemen, with some others, were appointed a committee to demand of the governor the removal of the troops. Of this committees Mr. Hancock was the chairman. A few days after the above affray, which is usually termed " the Boston massacre," the bodies of the slain were buried with suitable demonstrations of public grief In commemoration of the event, Mr. Hancock was appointed to deliver as address. After speaking of his attachment to a righteous government, and of his enmity to tyranny, he proceeded in the following animated strain: "The town of Boston, ever faithful to the British crown, has been invested by a British fleet; the troops of George the third have crossed the Atlantic, not to engage an enemy, but to assist a band of traitors in trampling on the rights and liberties of his most loyal subjects; those rights and liberties, which, as a father, he ought ever to regard, and as a king, he is bound in honor to defend from violation, even at the risk of his own life.

These troops, upon their first arrival, took possession of our senate house, pointed their cannon against the judgment hall, and even continued them there, whilst the supreme court of the province was actually sitting to decide upon the lives and fortunes of the king's subjects. Our streets nightly resounded with the noise of their riot and debauchery; our peaceful citizens were hourly exposed to shameful insults, and often felt the effects of their violence and outrage. But this was not all; as though they thought it not enough to violate our civil rights, they endeavored to deprive us of the enjoyment of our religious privileges; to vitiate our morals, and thereby render us deserving of destruction. Hence the rude din of arms, which broke in upon your solemn devotions in your temples, on that day hallowed by heaven, and set apart by God himself for his peculiar worship. Hence, impious oaths and blasphemies, so often tortured your unaccustomed ear. Hence, all the arts which idleness and luxury could invent, were used to betray our youth of one sex into extravagance and effeminacy, and of the other to infamy and ruin; and have they not succeeded but too well? Has not a reverence for religion sensibly decayed? Have not our infants almost learned to lisp curses, before they knew their horrid import? Have not our youth forgotten they were Americans, and regardless of the admonitions of the wise and aged, copied, with a servile imitation, the frivolity and vices of their tyrants? And must I be compelled to acknowledge, that even the noblest, fairest part of all creation, have not entirely escaped their cruel snares? -- or why have I seen an honest father clothed with shame; why a virtuous mother drowned in tears?

"But I forbear, and come reluctantly to the transactions of that dismal night, when in such quick succession we felt the extremes of grief, astonishment, and rage; when heaven in anger, for a dreadful moment suffered hell to take the reins when Satan, with his chosen band, opened the sluices of New-England's blood, and sacrilegiously polluted our land with the dead bodies of her guiltless sons. "Let this sad tale of death never be told, without a tear; let not the heaving bosom cease to burn with a manly indignation at the relation of it, through the long tracks of future time; let every parent tell the shameful story to his listening children, till tears of pity glisten in their eyes, or boiling passion shakes their tender frames. "Dark and designing knaves, murderers, parricides! How dare you tread upon the earth, which has drunk the blood or slaughtered innocence shed by your hands? How dare you breathe that air, which wafted to the ear of heaven the groans of those who fell a sacrifice to your accursed ambition? -- But if the laboring earth doth not expand her jaws; if the air you breathe is not commissioned to be the minister of death; yet, hear it, and tremble! The eye of heaven penetrates the darkest chambers of the soul; and you, though screened from human observation, must be arraigned, must lift your hands, red with the blood of those whose death you have procured, at the tremendous bar of God. "But I gladly quit this theme of death -- I would not dwell too long upon the horrid effects, which have already followed, from quartering regular troops in this town; let our misfortunes instruct posterity to guard against these evils. Standing armies are sometimes, (I would by no means say generally, much less universally,) composed of persons who have rendered themselves unfit to live in civil society; who are equally indifferent to the glory of a George, or a Louis; who for the addition of one penny a day to their wages, would desert from the Christian cross, and fight under the crescent of the Turkish sultan; from such men as these what has not a state to fear? With such as these, usurping Caesar passed the Rubicon; with such as these he humbled mighty Rome, and forced the mistress of the world to own a master in a traitor. These are the men whom sceptred robbers now employ to frustrate the designs of God, and render vain the bounties which his gracious hand pours indiscriminately upon his creatures."

Previously to this address, doubts had been entertained by some, as to the perfect patriotism of Mr. Hancock. It was said that the governor of the province had, either by studied civilities, or by direct overtures, endeavored to attach him to the royal cause. For a time insinuations of this derogatory character were circulated abroad, highly detrimental to his name. The manners and habits of Mr. Hancock had, not a little, contributed to countenance the malicious imputations. His fortune was princely. His mansion displayed the magnificence of a courtier, rather than the simplicity of a republican. Gold and silver embroidery adorned his garments and on public occasions, his carriage and horses, and servants. Livery, emulated the splendor of the English nobility. The eye of envy saw not this magnificence with indifference; nor was it strange that reports unfriendly to his patriotic integrity should have been circulated abroad; especially as from his wealth and fashionable intercourse, he had more connection with the governor and his party than many others. The sentiments, however, expressed by Hancock in the above address, were so explicit and so patriotic, as to convince the most incredulous; and a renovation of his popularity was the consequence. Hancock, from this time, became as odious to the royal governor as his adherents, as he was dear to the republican party. It now became an object of some importance to the royal governor, to get possession of the persons of Mr. Hancock and Samuel Adams; and this is said to have been intended in the expedition to Concord, which led to the memorable battle of Lexington, the opening scene of the revolutionary war. Notwithstanding the secrecy with which that expedition was planned, these patriots, who were at the time members of the provincial congress at Concord, fortunately made their escape; but it was only at the moment the British troops entered the house where they lodged. Following this battle, Governor Gage issued his proclamation, offering a general pardon to all who should manifest a proper penitence for their opposition to the royal authority, excepting the above two gentlemen, whose guilt placed them beyond the reach of the royal clemency.

In October, 1774, Hancock was unanimously elected to the presidential chair of the provincial congress of Massachusetts. The following year, the still higher honor of the presidency of the continental congress was conferred upon him. In this body, were men of superior genius, and of still greater experience than Hancock. There were Franklin, and Jefferson, and Dickinson, and many others, men of pre-eminent abilities and superior political sagacity; but the recent proclamation of Governor Gage, proscribing Hancock and Adams, had given those gentlemen great popularity, and presented a sufficient reason to the continental congress, to express their respect for them, by the election of the former to the presidential chair. In this distinguished station Hancock continued till October 1777; at which time, in consequence of infirm health, induced by an unmerited application to business, he resigned his office, and, with a popularity seldom enjoyed by any individual, retired to his native province. Of the convention, which, about this time, was appointed to frame a constitution for the state of Massachusetts, Hancock was a member. Under this constitution, in 1780, he was the first governor of the commonwealth, to which office he was annually elected, until the year 1785, when he resigned. After an interval of two years, he was re-elected to the same office, in which he was continued to the time of his death, which took place on the 8th of October, 1793, and in the 55th year of his age.

Of the character of Mr. Hancock, the limits which we have prescribed to ourselves, will permit us to say but little more. It was an honorable trait in that character, that while possessed a superfluity of wealth, to the unrestrained enjoyment of which he came at an unguarded period of life, he avoided excessive indulgence and dissipation. His habits, through life, were uniformly on the side of virtue. In his disposition and manners, he was kind and courteous. He claimed no superiority from his advantages, and manifested no arrogance on account of his wealth. His enemies accused him of an excessive fondness for popularity; to which fondness, envy and malice were not backward in ascribing his liberality on various occasions. Whatever may have been the justice of such an imputations many examples of the generosity of his character are recorded. Hundreds of families, it is said, in times of distress, were daily fed from his munificence. In promoting the liberties of his country, no one, perhaps, actually expended more wealth, or was willing to make greater sacrifices. An instance of his public spirit, in 1775, is recorded, much to his praise. At that time, the American army was besieging Boston, to expel the British, who held possession of the town. To accomplish this object, the entire destruction of the city was proposed by the American officers. By the execution of such a plan, the whole fortune of Mr. Hancock would have been sacrificed. Yet he immediately acceded to the measure, declaring his readiness to surrender his all, whenever the liberties of his country should require it. It is not less honorable to the character of Mr. Hancock, that while wealth and independence powerfully tempted him to a life of indolence, he devoted himself for many years, almost without intermission, to the most laborious service of his country. Malevolence, during some periods of his public life, aspersed his character, and imputed to him motives of conduct to which he was a stranger. Full justice was done to his memory at his death, in the expressions of grief and affection which were offered over his remains, by the multitudes who thronged his house while his body lay in state, and who followed his remains to the grave. 

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George Walton

George Walton, the last of the Georgia delegation, who signed the declaration of independence, and with an  account of whom we shallwalton.jpg (12303 bytes) conclude these biographical notices, was born in the county of Frederick, Virginia, about the year 1740. He was early apprenticed to a carpenter, who being a man of selfish and contracted views, not only kept him closely at labor during the day, but refused him the privilege of a candle, by which to read at night.       Young Walton possessed a mind by nature strong in its powers, and though uncultivated, not having enjoyed even the advantages of a good scholastic education, he was ardently bent on the acquisition of knowledge; so bent, that during the day, at his leisure moments, he would collect light wood, which served him at night instead of a candle. His application was close and indefatigable; his acquisitions rapid and valuable. At the expiration of his apprenticeship, he removed to the province of Georgia, and entered the office of a Mr. Young, with whom he pursued the preparatory studies of the profession of law, and in 1774, he entered upon its duties.

     At this time the British government was in the exercise of full power in Georgia. Both the governor and his council were firm supporters of the British ministry. It was at this period that George Walton, and other kindred spirits, assembled a meeting of the friends of liberty, at the liberty pole, at Tondee's tavern in Savannah, to take into consideration the means of preserving the constitutional rights and liberties of the people of Georgia, which were endangered by the then recent acts of the British parliament. At this meeting, Mr. Walton took a distinguished part. Others, also, entered with great warmth and animation into the debate. It was, at length, determined, to invite the different parishes of the province, to come into a general union and co-operation with the other provinces of America to secure their constitutional rights and liberties. In opposition to this plan, the royal governor and his council immediately and strongly enlisted themselves, and so far succeeded by their influence, as to induce another meeting, which was held in January, 1775, to content itself with preparing a petition to be presented to the king. Of the committee appointed for this purpose, Mr. Walton was a member. The petition, however, shared the fate of its numerous predecessors.

     In February, 1775, the committee of safety met at Savannah. But notwithstanding that several of the members advocated strong and decisive measures, a majority were for, pursuing, for the present, a temporizing policy. Accordingly, the committee adjourned without concerting any plan for the appointment of delegates to the continental congress. This induced the people of the parish of St. John, as noticed in the preceding memoir, to separate, in a degree, from the provincial government, and to appoint Mr. Hall a delegate to represent them in the national legislature. In the month of July, 1775, the convention of Georgia acceded to the general confederacy, and five delegates, Lyman Hall, Archibald Bullock, John Houston, John J. Zubly, and Noble W. Jones, were elected to represent the state in congress. In the month of February, 1776, Mr. Walton was elected, to the same honorable station, and in the following month of October, was re-elected. From this time, until October, 1781, he continued to represent the state of Georgia at the seat of government, where he displayed much zeal and intelligence, in the discharge of the various duties which were assigned him. He was particularly useful on a committee, of which Robert Morris and George Clymer were his associates, appointed to transact important continental business in Philadelphia, during the time that congress was obliged to retire from that city.

     In December, 1778, Mr. Walton received a colonel's commission in the militia, and was present at the surrender of Savannah to the British arms. During the obstinate defense of that place, Colonel Walton was wounded in the thigh, in consequence of which he fell from his horse, and was made a prisoner by the British troops. A brigadier-general was demanded in exchange for him; but in September, 1779, he was exchange for a captain of the nave. In the following month, Colonel Walton was appointed governor of the state; and in the succeeding January, was elected a member of congress for two years. The subsequent life of Mr. Walton was filled up in the discharge of the most respectable offices within the gift of the state. In what manner he was appreciated by the people of Georgia, may be learnt from the fact that he was at six different times elected a representative to congress; twice appointed governor of the state; once a senator of the United States; and at four different periods a judge of the superior courts, which last office he held for fifteen years, and until the time of his death. It may be gathered from the preceding pages, respecting Mr. Walton, that he was no ordinary man. He role into distinction by the force of his native powers. In his temperament he was ardent, and by means of his enthusiasm in the great cause of liberty, rose to higher eminence, and secured a greater share of public favor and confidence, than he would otherwise have done. Mr. Walton was not without his faults and weaknesses. He was accused of a degree of pedantry, and sometimes indulged his satirical powers beyond the strict rules of propriety. He was perhaps, also, too contemptuous of public opinion, especially when that opinion varied from his own. The death of Mr. Walton occurred on the second day of February, 1804. During the latter years of his life, he suffered intensely from frequent and long continued attacks of the gout, which probably tended to undermine his constitution, and to hasten the event of his dissolution. He had attained however to a good age, and closed his life, happy in having contributed his full share towards the measure of his country's glory.

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Benjamin Rush

 

Benjamin Rush was born on the 24th of December, 1745, 0. S. in the township of Byberry, twelve or fourteen miles northeast of Philadelphia. His ancestors emigrated front England to Pennsylvania, about the year 1683. The father of young Rush died when he was six years of age. The care of his education therefore devolved upon his mother, who well understood the importance of knowledge, and early took measures to give her son a liberal education. Young Rush was sent to the academy at Nottingham, in Maryland, about sixty miles southeast from Philadelphia. This academy had long been conducted, with great reputation, by the Reverend Dr. Finley, afterwards president of Princeton college, in New-Jersey.

After finishing his preparatory studies at Nottingham, he was entered in 1759, a student in the college of Princeton, then under the superintendence of President Davies. Such had been his progress in his classical studies at Nottingham, that he obtained the degree of bachelor of arts in 1760, and before he had completed his fifteenth year.      On leaving college, he commenced the study of medicine, under the direction of the eminent Dr. Redman, of Philadelphia. He was also one of Dr. Shippen's ten pupils, who attended the first course of anatomical lectures given in this country. In 1766, he went to Edinburgh, where he spent two years at the university in that city, and from which he received the degree of M. D. in 1768. The next winter after his graduation he spent in London; and the following spring having visited France, in the autumn of the same year he returned to Philadelphia, and commenced the practice of medicine.

     In 1769, he was elected professor of chemistry in the college of Philadelphia. This addition to Drs. Shippen, Morgan, Kuhn, and Bond, who had begun to lecture a few years before, completed the various departments, and fully organized this first medical school in America. By a subsequent arrangement in 1791, the college was merged in a university, and Dr. Rush was appointed professor of the institutes and practice of medicine, and of clinical practice, in the university of Pennsylvania. In the year 1793, Dr. Rush had an opportunity of applying his principles, in the treatment of yellow fever. In that year, Philadelphia was desolated by that tremendous scourge, after an interval of thirty-one years. The disease baffled the, skill of the oldest and most judicious physicians; and they differed about the nature, and the treatment of it. "This general calamity lasted for about one hundred days, extending from July till November. The deaths in the whole of this distressing period, were four thousand and forty-four, or something more than thirty-eight each day, on an average. Whole families were confined by it. There was a great deficiency of nurses for the sick. There was likewise a great deficiency of physicians, from the desertion of some, and the sickness and death of others. At one time, there were but three physicians, who were able to do business out of their houses, and at this time there were probably not less than six thousand persons ill with the fever   In 1787, he became a member of the convention of Pennsylvania for the adoption of the federal constitution. This constitution received his warmest approbation. He pronounced the federal government a masterpiece of human wisdom. From it he anticipated a degree of felicity to the American people which they have not, and probably never will, experience. or the last fourteen years of his life, he was treasurer for the United States mint, by appointment of President Adams; an office which was conferred upon him, as a homage to his talents and learning, and by means of which something was added to his revenue.         

    Many whole families, consisting of five, six, and, in three instances, of nine members, were recovered by plentiful purging and bleeding. These remedies were prescribed with great advantage by several of the physicians of the city. But the use of them was not restricted to the physicians alone; the clergy, the apothecaries, many private citizens, several intelligent women, and two black men, prescribed them with great success. Nay, more, many persons prescribed them to themselves. It was owing to the almost universal use of these remedies, that the mortality of the disease diminished in proportion as the number of persons who were affected by it increased. It is probable that not less than six thousand of the inhabitants of Philadelphia were saved from death by bleeding and purging; during the autumn of 1793. The life of Dr. Rush was terminated on the 19th of April, in the 68th year of his age. During his illness, which was ,of but few days continuance, his house was beset with crowds of citizens, such was the general anxiety in respect to the life of this excellent man. When, at length he died, the news of his decease spread a deep gloom over the city, and expressions of profound sympathy were received from all parts of the country.
 

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William Hooper

Signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a native of Boston. After graduation from the Boston Latin School, he entered Harvard Collegehooper.jpg (6222 bytes) and graduated in 1760. He was admitted to the bar in 1764 and went to Wilmington, N. C. in 1764. In 1767 he married Anne Clark. In 1773 he was elected to the Assembly. He was elected to the Continental Congress and remained a member of that body until 1777, serving on many important committees. He was absent when independence was voted but he returned in time to sign the Declaration. On Apr.29, 1777, Hooper resigned from Congress and retired to "Finian," his home near Wilmington. He was eager to restore his fortune, ruined by his public service. The impending capture of Wilmington forced him to flee, and he left his family in Wilmington in preference to exposing them to danger from the British. His family was finally restored to him, but much of his property was destroyed and he had become dangerously ill with malaria. In 1782 he moved to Hillsboro and two years later he was again in the House of Commons. After several years of painful decline, he died in Hillsboro. 

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Richard StocktonThe Signer

The first of the New-Jersey delegation, who signed the Declaration of Independence, was Richard Stockton. He was born near Princeton, on the 1st day of October, 1730. His family was ancient and respectable. His great grandfather, who bore the same name, came from England, about the year 1670, and after residing a few years on Long Island, removed with a number of associates to an extensive tract of land, of which the present village of Princeton is nearly the center. This tract consisted of six thousand and four hundred acres. This gentleman died in the year 1705, leaving handsome legacies to his several children; but the chief portion of his landed estate to his son, Richard. The death of Richard followed in 1720. He was succeeded in the family seat by his youngest son, John; a man distinguished for his moral and religious character, for his liberality to the college of New-Jersey, and for great fidelity in the discharge of the duties of public and private life.

In 1766 and 1767, he relinquished his professional business, for the purpose of visiting England, Scotland, and Ireland. During his tour through those countries, he was received with that attention to which he was eminently entitled, by the estimable character which he had sustained at home, and his high professional reputation. He was presented at court, by administer of the king, and had the honor of being consulted on American affairs, by the Marquis of Rockingham, by the Earl of Chatham, and many other distinguished personages. The following year he was appointed one of the royal .In judges of the province, and a member of the executive council. At that time he was high in the royal favor, and his domestic felicity seemed without alloy. He possessed an ample fortune, was surrounded by a family whom he greatly loved, and held a high and honorable station under the king of Great Britain. But the time at length arrived, when the question arose, whether he should renounce his allegiance to his sovereign, and encounter the sacrifices which such a step must bring upon him, or continue that allegiance, and forfeit his character as a friend to his country.

On the twenty-first of June, 1776, he was elected by the provincial congress of New-Jersey a delegate to the general congress, then sitting in the city of Philadelphia. On the occurrence of the question relating to a declaration of independence, it is understood that he had some doubts as to the expediency of the measure. These doubts, however, were soon dissipated by the powerful and impressive eloquence of John Adams, the great Colossus on this subject on the floor of congress. Mr. Stockton was not only convinced of the importance of the measure, but even addressed the house in its behalf, before the close of the debate. It is needless to detain the reader by a particular mention of the many important services which Mr. Stockton rendered his country, while a member of congress. In all the duties assigned to him, which were numerous and often arduous, he acted with an energy and fidelity alike honorable to him as a man and a patriot.

"At the bar he practiced for many years with unrivalled reputation and success. Strictly upright in his profession, be scorned to defend a cause that he knew to be unjust. A friend to peace and to the happiness of mankind, be has often with great pains and attention reconciled contending parties, while he might fairly, by the rules of his profession, have drawn from their litigation no inconsiderable profit to himself. Compassionate to the injured and distressed, he hath often protected the poor and helpless widow unrighteously robbed of her dower, hath heard her with patience, when many wealthier clients were waiting, and hath zealously promoted her interest, without the prospect of reward, unless he could prevail to have right done to her, and to provide her an easy competence for the rest of her days.

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William Ellery

William Ellery, the son of a gentleman of the same name, was born at Newport, on the 22d day of December, 1727. His ancestors wereellery.jpg (21047 bytes) originally from Bristol, in England, whence they emigrated to America during the latter part of the seventeenth century, and took up their residence at Newport, in Rhode Island. The early education of the subject of this memoir, was received almost exclusively from his father, who was a graduate of Harvard university; and who although extensively engaged in mercantile pursuits, found leisure personally to cultivate the mind of his son. At the age of sixteen, he was qualified for admission to the university, of which his father had been a member before him. In his twentieth year, he left the university, having sustained, during his collegiate course, the character of a faithful and devoted student. In a knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages, he is said to have particularly excelled, and through the whole bustle of his active life, until the very hour of dissolution, he retained his fondness for them. On his return to Newport, he commenced the study of the law, and after the usual preparatory course, he entered upon the practice, which for twenty years he pursued with great zeal. During this period, no other particulars have been recorded of him, than that he succeeded in acquiring a competent fortune, and receiving the esteem and confidence of his fellow citizens.

At an early period of the controversy between Great Britain and the colonies, Rhode Island strongly enlisted herself in the patriotic cause. She was not backward in expressing her disapprobation of the arbitrary measures of the parent country. Indeed, it is doubtful whether Rhode Island is not equally entitled, with Virginia and Massachusetts, to the honor which they claim, of being earliest in the measures leading to the revolution. Among the great scenes which led the way to actual resistance, two occurred in Narraganset bay. The first of these was an attack by the people of Rhode Island, upon the armed revenue sloop, Liberty, in the harbor of Newport, June 17th, 1769. The second was the memorable affair of the Gaspee, June 9th, 1772, and in which it may be said, was shed the first blood in the revolution. This latter occurrence excited an unusual alarm among the royal party in the provinces, and gave occasion to Governor Hutchinson to address the following letter to Commodore Gambier: "Our last ships carried you the news of the burning of the Gaspee schooner, at Providence. I hope, if there should be another like attempt, some concerned in it may be taken prisoners, and carried directly to England. A few punished at execution dock, would be the only effectual preventive of any further attempts." By other acts did the people of Rhode Island, at an early period, evince their opposition to the royal government. On the arrival in the year 1774 of the royal proclamation prohibiting the importation of fire arms from England, they dismantled the fort at Newport, and took possession of forty pieces of cannon. Again, on the occurrence of the battle of Lexington, they simultaneously roused to the defense of their fellow citizens, in the province of Massachusetts. Within three days after that memorable event, a large number of her militia were in the neighborhood of Boston, ready to cooperate in measures either of hostility or defense. In that same year she sent twelve hundred regular troops into the service, and afterwards furnished three state regiments to serve during the war.

No sooner was the formation of a continental congress suggested, than Rhode Island took measures to be represented in that body, and elected as delegates two of her most distinguished citizens, Governor Hopkins and Mr. Ward. During these movements in Rhode Island, Mr. Ellery, the subject of this notice, was by no means an idle spectator. The particular history of the part which he took in these transactions is, indeed, not recorded; but the tradition is, that he was not behind his contemporaries either in spirit or action. In the election for delegates to the congress of 1776, Mr. Ellery was a successful candidate, and in that body took his seat, on the seventeenth of May. Here, he soon became an active and influential member, and rendered important services to his country, by his indefatigable attention to duties assigned him, on several committees. During this session, he had the honor of affixing his name to the declaration of independence. Of this transaction he frequently spoke, and of the notice he took of the members of congress when they signed that instrument. He placed himself beside secretary Thompson, that he might see how they looked, as they put their names to their death warrant. But while all appeared to feel the solemnity of the occasion, and their countenances bespoke their awe, it was unmingled with fear. They recorded their names as patriots, who were ready, should occasion require, to lead the way to martyrdom.

In the year 1777, the marine committee of congress, of which Mr. Ellery was a member, recommended the plan, and it is supposed, at his suggestion, of preparing fire ships, and sending them out from the state of Rhode Island. Of this plan, the journals of congress speak in the following terms :

"If upon due consideration, jointly had by the navy board for the eastern department, and the governor and council of war for the state of Rhode Island, and for which purpose the said navy board are directed to attend upon the said governor and council of war, the preparing fire ships be judged practicable, expedient, and advisable, the said navy board immediately purchase, upon as reasonable terms as possible, six ships, or square-rigged vessels, at Providence, in the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the best calculated for fire ships, with all possible expedition; that the said navy board provide proper materials for the same, an employ a proper captain or commander, one lieutenant, and a suitable number of men for each of the said ships, or vessels, of approved courage and prudence; and that notice be given to all the commanders of the continental ships and vessels in the port of Providence, to be in readiness to sail at a moment's warning: that as soon as the said fire ships are well prepared, the first favorable wind be embraced to attack the British ships and navy in the rivers and bays of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: that the officers of the continental navy there, favor, as much as possible, the design, and use their utmost efforts to get out to sea, and proceed to such cruise, or to such ports, as the said navy board, or the marine committee, shall appoint or order."

During the year that the British army under General Piggot took possession of Newport, where they fortified themselves, and continued their head quarters for some time, the inhabitants sustained much injury in their property. Mr. Ellery shared in the common loss, his dwelling house being burned, and other destruction of property occasioned. Mr. Ellery continued a member of congress until the year 1785, and indeed, through that year, when he retired to his native state. Soon after, however, he was elected by congress, a commissioner of the continental loan office, to which was subsequently added, by the citizens of Rhode Island, the office of chief justice of their superior court, a station which he did not continue to hold long. On the organization of the federal government, he received from General Washington the appointment of collector of the customs for the town of Newport, an office which he retained during the remainder of his life. On the 15tb of February, 1820, this venerable man--venerable for his age, which had been prolonged to ninety-two years, and venerable for the services which he had tendered his country, was summoned to his account. His death was in unison with his life. He wasted gradually and almost imperceptibly, until the powers of nature were literally worn out by use. On the day on which his death occurred, he had risen, as usual, and rested in his old flag bottomed chair, the relict of half a century; he had employed himself in reading, Tully's offices in Latin. While thus engaged, his family physician called to see him. On feeling his pulse, he found that it had ceased to beat. A draught of wine and water quickened it into life, however, again, and being placed and supported on the bed, he continued reading, until the lamp of life, in a moment of which his friends were ignorant, was extinguished.

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Robert Treat Paine

ROBERT TREAT PAINE was a native of Boston, where he was born, in the year 1731. His parents were pious and respectable. His father waspaine.jpg (16893 bytes) for some years the settled pastor of a church in Weymouth, in the vicinity of Boston. His health failing him, however, he removed with his family to the latter place; where he entered into mercantile pursuits. His mother was the grand-daughter of Governor Treat of Connecticut. At the early age of fourteen, he became a member of Harvard College; but of his collegiate course, little has been recorded. On leaving the university, he was engaged for some time in a public school. As the fortune of his father had, from various circumstances, become much reduced, the support of his parents, with some other relations, seemed to devolve upon himself. In the acquisition of more ample means for their maintenance, he made a voyage to Europe. It was an honorable trait in his character, thus in the morning of life to exhibit such filial affection; a kindness of disposition, which he continued to manifest during his father's life.

Previously to his commencing the study of laws he devoted some time to the subject of theology, which tended to enlarge his views of Christianity, and to confirm his belief of its truth. In 1755, he served as chaplain to the troops of the province at the northward, and afterwards preached a few times in other places. At length he directed his attention to the study of law, during which period, having no pecuniary assistance, he was obliged to resort again to the keeping of a school for his support. By most persons such a course would be deemed a serious evil; but experience has shown, that those who are obliged to depend upon their own energies for the means of education, generally enter upon their profession, if not with higher attainments, with more courage to encounter the difficulties with which almost every one meets, and they are more likely to attain to a high elevation, than those whose resources are abundant. On being qualified for the practice of law, Mr. Paine established himself at Taunton, in the county of Bristol, where he resided for many years. We necessarily pass over several years of his life, during which we meet no occurrences of sufficient importance to merit a notice in these pages. It may be remarked, however, that at an early period, he took a deep interest in the various disputes which arose between the colonies and the British government. He was a delegate from Taunton, to a convention called by leading men of Boston, in 1768, in consequence of the abrupt dissolution of the general court by Governor Bernard. This convention the governor attempted to break up, but it continued in session several days, and adopted many spirited resolutions, designed to awaken in the people a greater attention to their rights, and to show to the ministry of England, that if those rights were violated, the provincial assembly would act independently of the governor.

Mr. Paine was engaged in the celebrated trial of Captain Preston, and his men, for the part they acted in the well known "Boston massacre" of 1770. On this occasion, in the absence of the attorney general, he conducted the prosecution on the part of the crown. Although only a fragment of his address to the jury, at this time, has been preserved, it appears that he managed the cause with the highest reputation to himself, both in regard to his honor as a faithful advocate, and at the same time as a friend to the just rights of those against whom he acted as council.

From this time, Mr. Paine appeared still more conspicuously was erected a representative to the general assembly from the town of Taunton. It was now becoming a period of great alarm in the colonies. Men of principle and talent were selected to guard the ancient rights of the colonies, and to point to those measures which, in the approaching crisis, it was proper to pursue. It was a high honor, therefore, for any one to be elected a representative of the people. The rights, the liberties, and even the lives of their constituents were placed in their hands; it was of the utmost importance that they should be men of sagacity, patriotism, and principle. Such, fortunately for the colonies, wreathe men who represented them in their provincial assemblies, and in the Continental Congress. Of this latter body, Mr. Paine was elected a member in 1774. A general account of the proceedings of this assembly has already been given. At that time a separation from the parent country was not generally contemplated, although to more discerning minds, such an event appeared not improbable, and that at no distant day. The Congress of 1774, were appointed mainly to deliberate and determine upon the measures proper to be pursued, to secure the enjoyment and exercise of rights guaranteed to the colonies by their charters, and for the restitution of union find harmony between the two countries, which was still desired by all. Accordingly they proceeded no farther at that time, than to address the people of America, petition the King, state their grievances, assert their rights, and recommend the suspension of importation from Great Britain into the colonies.

To the Continental Congress, which met at Philadelphia in May, 1775, Mr. Paine was again a delegate from Massachusetts. At that time, the colonies were greatly in want of gunpowder. The manufacture of salt petre one of its constituents, was but imperfectly understood. Congress appointed a committee, of which Mr. Paine was chairman, to introduce the manufacture of it. In this particular, he rendered essential service to his country, by making extensive inquiries into the subject, and by inducing persons in various parts of the provinces to engage in the manufacture of the article. The following is among the letters which he wrote on this subject, which, while it shows his indefatigable attention to the subject, will convey to the present generation some idea of the multiform duties of the patriots of the revolution. Mr. Paine also rendered himself highly useful, as a member of a committee for the encouragement of the manufacture of cannon, and other implements of war.

Of the congress of l776, Mr. Paine was also a member; and to the Declaration of Independence, which that body published to the world, he gave his vote, and affixed his name. In the December following, the situation of Congress be came justly alarming. The British army were, at this time, making rapid advances through New-Jersey, towards Philadelphia. The troops of Washington, amounting to scarcely one third of the British force, it was thought would not be able to resist their progress, or prevent their taking possession of Philadelphia. During the alarm excited by an approaching foe, Congress adjourned to Baltimore. Of the state of Congress, at this time, the following letter of Mr. Paine gives an interesting account.

For the years 1777 and 1778, Mr. Paine was a member of Congress, during the intervals of whose sessions, he filled several important offices in the state of Massachusetts. In 1780, he was called to take a part in the deliberations of the convention, which met for the purpose of forming a constitution for the commonwealth. Of the committee which framed that excellent instrument, he was a conspicuous member. Under the government organized according to this constitution, he was appointed attorney general, an office which he continued to hold until 1790, when he was transferred to a seat on the bench of the supreme judicial court. In this situation he remained till the year 1804, at which time he had attained to the advanced age of 73 years. As a lawyer, Mr. Paine ranked high among his professional brethren. His legal attainments were extensive. In the discharge of his duties as attorney general, he had the reputation of unnecessary severity; but fidelity in that station generally provokes the censure of the lawless and licentious. Towards the abandoned and incorrigible he was indeed severe, and was willing that the law in all its penalties should be visited upon them. But where crime was followed by repentance, he could be moved to tenderness; and while, in the discharge of his official duty, he took care that the law should not fall into disrespect through his inefficiency, he at the same time was ever ready to recommend such as might deserve it to executive clemency.

The death of Judge Paine occurred on the eleventh of May, 1814, having attained to the age of 84 years. Until near the close of life, the vigor of his mental faculties continued unimpaired. In quickness of apprehension, liveliness of imagination, and general intelligence, he had few superiors. His memory was of the most retentive character, and he was highly distinguished for a sprightly and agreeable turn in conversation. A witty severity sometimes excited the temporary; disquietude of a friend; but if he was sometimes inclined to indulge in pleasant raillery, he was willing to be the subject of it in his turn.

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William WhippleWilliam Whipple

William Whipple was the eldest son of William Whipple and was born at Kittery, Maine, in the year 1730. His father was a native of Ipswich, and was bred a maltster; but for several years after his removal to Kittery, he followed the sea. His mother was the daughter of Robert Cutts, a distinguished ship-builder, who established himself at Kittery, where he became wealthy, and at his death left a handsome fortune to his daughter. The education of young Whipple was limited to a public school, in his native town. It was respectable but did not embrace that variety and extent of learning, which is generally obtained at some higher seminary. On leaving school, he entered on board a merchant vessel, and for several years devoted himself to commercial business, on the sea. His voyages were chiefly confined to the West-Indies, and proving successful, he acquired a considerable fortune. In 1759, he relinquished a seafaring life, and commenced business with a brother at Portsmouth, where they continued in trade, until within a few years of the revolution.

Mr. Whipple early entered with spirit into the controversy between Great Britain and the colonies, and being distinguished for the general probity of his character, as well as for the force of his genius, was frequently elected by his townsmen to offices of trust anal responsibility. In the provincial congress, which met at Exeter, January, 1775, for the purpose of electing delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, he represented the town of Portsmouth. He also represented that town in the provincial congress, which was assembled at Exeter the following May, and by that body was appointed one of the provincial committee of safety. In 1776 he was appointed a delegate to the general congress, of which body he continued a member until the middle of September, l799.

In the year 1777, while Mr. Whipple was a member of Congress, the appointment of brigadier general was bestowed upon him, and the celebrated John Stark, by the assembly of New-Hampshire. Great alarm at this time prevailed in New-Hampshire, in consequence of the evacuation of Ticonderoga by the Americans, its consequent possession by the British, and the progress of General Burgoyne, with a large force, toward the state. The militia of New-Hampshire were expeditiously organized into two brigades, the command of which was given to the above two generals. The intrepid conduct of General Stark, in the ever memorable defence of Bennington, must be only alluded to in this place. The advantage thus gained, laid the foundation of the still more signal victory which was obtained in the October following by General Gates, over the distinguished Burgoyne and his veteran soldiers, at Saratoga; since it was here proved to the militias that the Hessians and Indians, so much dreaded by them, were not invincible. The career of conquest which had before animated the troops of Burgoyne was checked. For the first time, General Burgoyne was sensible of the danger of his situation. He had regarded the men of New Hampshire, and the Green Mountains, with contempt. But the battle of Bennington taught him both to fear and respect them. In a letter addressed about this time to Lord Germaine, he re marks: "The New-Hampshire Grants, till of late but little known, hang like a cloud on my left."

In 1778, General Whipple, with a detachment of New-Hampshire militia, was engaged, under General Sullivan, in executing a plan which had for its object the retaking of Rhode Island from the British. By some misunderstanding, the French fleet, under Count D'Estaing, which was destined to co-operate with General Sullivan, failed of rendering the expected assistance, in consequence of which General Sullivan was obliged to retreat. General Sullivan, with his troops, occupied a position on the north end of the island. One morning, while a number of officers were breakfasting in the general's quarters, a detachment of British troops were perceived on an eminence, at the distance of about three quarters of a mile. A field piece was soon after discharged by the enemy, the ball of which, after killing one of the horses at the door, passed through the side of the house, into the room where the officers were sitting, and so shattered the leg of the brigade major of General Whipple, that immediate amputation became necessary. During the remaining years of Mr. Whipple's life, he filled several important offices. In 1780, he was elected a representative to the general assembly of New-Hampshire, the duties of which office he continued to discharge during several re-elections, with much honor to himself, and to the general acceptance of his constituents.

In 1782, he received the appointment of receiver of public moneys for the state of New-Hampshire, from Mr. Morris, the superintendent of finance. The appointment was accepted by Mr. Whipple, but the duties devolving upon him were both arduous and unpopular. The collection of money was, at that time, extremely difficult. Mr. Whipple experienced many vexations in the exercise of his commission; and at length, in 1784, found it necessary, on account of the infirm state of his health, to relinquish his office. About the same time that he received the above appointment, he was created a judge of the superior court of judicature. He began now, however, to be afflicted with strictures in the breast, which prevented him from engaging in the more active scenes of life. He was able, however, to ride the circuits of the court for two or three years, but owing to an affection of the heart, he was unable to sum up the arguments of council, or state a cause to the jury. In the fall of 1785, while riding the circuit, this disorder so rapidly increased, that he was obliged to return home. From this time he was confined to his room, until the 28th day of November, when he expired, in the 55th year of his age. The mind of Mr. Whipple was naturally strong, and his power of discrimination quick. In his manners, he was easy and unassuming; in his habits correct, and in his friendships constant. Although his early education was limited, his subsequent intercourse with the world, united to his natural good sense, enabled him to fill with ability the various offices to which he was appointed. Few men have exhibited a more honest and persevering ambition to act a worthy part in the community, and few, with his advantages, have been more successful in obtaining the object of their ambition. 

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John Francis Mercer

John Francis Mercer, born on May 17, 1759, was the fifth of nine children born to John and Ann Mercer of Stafford County,picture VA. He attended the College of William and Mary, and in early 1776 he joined the 3d Virginia Regiment. Mercer became Gen. Charles Lee's aide-decamp in 1778, but after General Lee's court-martial in October 1779, Mercer resigned his commission. He spent the next year studying law at the College of William and Mary and then rejoined the army, where he served briefly under Lafayette. In 1782 Mercer was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. That December he became one of Virginia's representatives to the Continental Congress. He later returned to the House of Delegates in 1785 and 1786.

Mercer married Sophia Sprigg in 1785 and soon after moved to Anne Arundel County, MD. He attended the Constitutional Convention as part of Maryland's delegation when he was only 28 years old, the second youngest delegate in Philadelphia. Mercer was strongly opposed to centralization, and both spoke and voted against the Constitution. He and fellow Marylander Luther Martin left the proceedings before they ended. After the convention, Mercer continued in public service. He allied himself with the Republicans and served in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1778-89, 1791-92, 1800-1801, and 1803-6. Between 1791 and 1794 he also sat in the U.S. House of Representatives for Maryland and was chosen governor of the state for two terms, 1801-3. During Thomas Jefferson's term as President, Mercer broke with the Republicans and joined the Federalist camp. Illness plagued him during his last years. In 1821 Mercer traveled to Philadelphia to seek medical attention, and he died there on August 30. His remains lay temporarily in a vault in St. Peter's Church in Philadelphia and were reinterred on his estate, "Cedar Park" in Maryland.

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William Paterson

William Paterson (Patterson) was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1745. When he was almost 2 years of age, his family emigrated to America, disembarking at New Castle, DE. While the father traveled about the country, apparently selling tinware, the family lived in New London, other places in Connecticut, and in Trenton, NJ. In 1750 he settled in Princeton, NJ. There, he became a merchant and manufacturer of tin goods. His prosperity enabled William to attend local private schools and the College of New Jersey (later Princeton). He took a B.A. in 1763 and an M.A. 3 years later. Meantime, Paterson had studied law in the city of Princeton under Richard Stockton, who later was to sign the Declaration of Independence, and near the end of the decade began practicing at New Bromley, in Hunterdon County. Before long, he moved to South Branch, in Somerset County, and then in 1779 relocated near New Brunswick at Raritan estate.

When the War for Independence broke out, Paterson joined the vanguard of the New Jersey patriots. He served in the provincial congress (1775-76), the constitutional convention (1776), legislative council (1776-77), and council of safety (1777). During the last year, he also held a militia commission. From 1776 to 1783 he was attorney general of New Jersey, a task that occupied so much of his time that it prevented him from accepting election to the Continental Congress in 1780. Meantime, the year before, he had married Cornelia Bell, by whom he had three children before her death in 1783. Two years later, he took a new bride, Euphemia White, but it is not known whether or not they had children. From 1783, when he moved into the city of New Brunswick, until 1787, Paterson devoted his energies to the law and stayed out of the public limelight. Then he was chosen to represent New Jersey at the Constitutional Convention, which he attended only until late July. Until then, he took notes of the proceedings. More importantly, he figured prominently because of his advocacy and coauthorship of the New Jersey, or Paterson, Plan, which asserted the rights of the small states against the large. He apparently returned to the convention only to sign the final document. After supporting its ratification in New Jersey, he began a career in the new government.

In 1789 Paterson was elected to the U.S. Senate (1789-90), where he played a pivotal role in drafting the Judiciary Act of 1789. His next position was governor of his state (1790-93). During this time, he began work on the volume later published as Laws of the State of New Jersey (1800) and began to revise the rules and practices of the chancery and common law courts. During the years 1793-1806, Paterson served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Riding the grueling circuit to which federal judges were subjected in those days and sitting with the full Court, he presided over a number of major trials. In September 1806, his health failing, the 60-year-old Paterson embarked on a journey to Ballston Spa, NY, for a cure but died en route at Albany in the home of his daughter, who had married Stephen Van Rensselaer. Paterson was at first laid to rest in the nearby Van Rensselaer manor house family vault, but later his body was apparently moved to the Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, NY.

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Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer

Jenifer was born in 1723 of Swedish and English descent at Coates Retirement (now Ellerslie) estate, near Port Tobacco inpicture Charles County, Md. Little is known about his childhood or education, but as an adult he came into possession of a large estate near Annapolis, called Stepney, where he lived most of his life. He never married. The web of his far-reaching friendships included such illustrious personages as George Washington. As a young man, Jenifer served as agent and receiver-general for the last two proprietors of Maryland. He also filled the post of justice of the peace in Charles County and later for the western circuit of Maryland. In 1760 he sat on a boundary commission that settled disputes between Pennsylvania and Delaware. Six years later, he became a member of the provincial court and from 1773 to 1776 sat on the Maryland royal governor's council.

Despite his association with conservative proprietary politics, Jenifer supported the Revolutionary movement, albeit at first reluctantly. He served as president of the Maryland council of safety (1775-77), then as president of the first state senate (1777-80). He sat in the Continental Congress (1778-82) and held the position of state revenue and financial manager (1782-85). A conservative nationalist, Jenifer favored a strong and permanent union of the states and a Congress with taxation power. In 1785 he represented Maryland at the Mount Vernon Conference. Although he was one of 29 delegates who attended nearly every session of the Constitutional Convention, he did not speak often but backed Madison and the nationalist element. Jenifer lived only 3 more years and never again held public office. He died at the age of 66 or 67 at Annapolis in 1790. The exact location of his grave, possibly at Ellerslie estate, is unknown.

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James McHenry

McHenry was born at Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, in 1753. He enjoyed a classical education at Dublin, andJames McHenry emigrated to Philadelphia in 1771. The following year, the rest of his family came to the colonies, and his brother and father established an import business at Baltimore. During that year, James continued schooling at Newark Academy in Delaware and then studied medicine for 2 years under the well-known Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia. During the War for Independence, McHenry served as a military surgeon. Late in 1776, while he was on the staff of the 5th Pennsylvania Battalion, the British captured him at Fort Washington, NY. He was paroled early the next year and exchanged in March 1778. Returning immediately to duty, he was assigned to Valley Forge, PA, and in May became secretary to George Washington. About this time, McHenry apparently quit the practice of medicine to devote himself to politics and administration; he apparently never needed to return to it after the war because of his excellent financial circumstances.

McHenry stayed on Washington's staff until 1780, when he joined that of the Marquis de Lafayette, and he remained in that assignment until he entered the Maryland Senate (1781-86). During part of this period, he served concurrently in the Continental Congress (1783-86). In 1784 he married Margaret Allison Caldwell. McHenry missed many of the proceedings at the Philadelphia convention, in part because of the illness of his brother, and played an insubstantial part in the debates when he was present. He did, however, maintain a private journal that has been useful to posterity. He campaigned strenuously for the Constitution in Maryland and attended the state ratifying convention. From 1789 to 1791, McHenry sat in the state assembly and in the years 1791-96 again in the senate. A staunch Federalist, he then accepted Washington's offer of the post of Secretary of War and held it into the administration of John Adams. McHenry looked to Hamilton rather than to Adams for leadership. As time passed, the latter became increasingly dissatisfied with McHenry's performance and distrustful of his political motives and in 1800 forced him to resign. Subsequently, the Democratic-Republicans accused him of maladministration, but a congressional committee vindicated him.McHenry returned to his estate near Baltimore and to semiretirement. He remained a loyal Federalist and opposed the War of 1812. He also held the office of president of a Bible society. He died in 1816 at the age of 62, survived by two of his three children. His grave is in Baltimore's Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery.

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Jonathan Dayton

Dayton was born at Elizabethtown (present Elizabeth), NJ, in 1760. His father was a storekeeper who was also active in local and state politics. The youth obtained a good education, graduating from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) in 1776. He immediately entered the Continental Army and saw extensive action. Achieving the rank of captain by the age of 19 and serving under his father, Gen. Elias Dayton, and the Marquis de Lafayette, he was a prisoner of the British for a time and participated in the Battle of Yorktown, VA. After the war, Dayton returned home, studied law, and established a practice. During the 1780s he divided his time between land speculation, legal practice, and politics. He sat in the assembly in 1786-87. In the latter year, he was chosen as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention after the leaders of his political faction, his father and his patron, Abraham Clark, declined to attend. Dayton did not arrive at Philadelphia until June 21 but thereafter faithfully took part in the proceedings. He spoke with moderate frequency during the debates and, though objecting to some provisions of the Constitution, signed it.

After sitting in the Continental Congress in 1788, Dayton became a foremost Federalist legislator in the new government. Although elected as a representative, he did not serve in the First Congress in 1789, preferring instead to become a member of the New Jersey council and speaker of the state assembly. In 1791, however, he entered the U.S. House of Representatives (1791-99), becoming Speaker in the Fourth and Fifth Congresses. During this period, he backed Hamilton's fiscal program, suppression of the Whisky Rebellion, Jay's Treaty, and a host of other Federalist measures. In personal matters Dayton purchased Boxwood Hall in 1795 as his home in Elizabethtown and resided there until his death. He was elevated to the U.S. Senate (1799-1805). He supported the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and, in conformance with his Federalist views, opposed the repeal of the Judiciary Act of 1801. In 1806 illness prevented Dayton from accompanying Aaron Burr's abortive expedition to the Southwest, where the latter apparently intended to conquer Spanish lands and create an empire. Subsequently indicted for treason, Dayton was not prosecuted but could not salvage his national political career. He remained popular in New Jersey, however, continuing to hold local offices and sitting in the assembly (1814-15). In 1824 the 63-year-old Dayton played host to Lafayette during his triumphal tour of the United States, and his death at Elizabeth later that year may have been hastened by the exertion and excitement. He was laid to rest at St. John's Episcopal Church in his hometown. Because he owned 250,000 acres of Ohio land between the Big and Little Miami Rivers, the city of Dayton, was named after him--his major monument. He had married Susan Williamson, but the date of their wedding is unknown. They had two daughters.

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George Washington

The eldest of six children from his father's second marriage, George Washington was born into the landed gentry in 1732 atWASHSM.gif (6087 bytes) Wakefield Plantation, VA. Until reaching 16 years of age, he lived there and at other plantations along the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, including the one that later became known as Mount Vernon. His education was rudimentary, probably being obtained from tutors but possibly also from private schools, and he learned surveying. After he lost his father when he was 11 years old, his half-brother Lawrence, who had served in the Royal Navy, acted as his mentor. As a result, the youth acquired an interest in pursuing a naval career, but his mother discouraged him from doing so.

At the age of 16, in 1748, Washington joined a surveying party sent out to the Shenandoah Valley by Lord Fairfax, a land baron. For the next few years, Washington conducted surveys in Virginia and present West Virginia and gained a lifetime interest in the West. In 1751-52 he also accompanied Lawrence on a visit he made to Barbados, West Indies, for health reasons just before his death. The next year, Washington began his military career when the royal governor appointed him to an adjutantship in the militia, as a major. That same year, as a gubernatorial emissary, accompanied by a guide, he traveled to Fort Le Boeuf, PA, in the Ohio River Valley, and delivered to French authorities an ultimatum to cease fortification and settlement in English territory. During the trip, he tried to better British relations with various Indian tribes.

In 1754, winning the rank of lieutenant colonel and then colonel in the militia, Washington led a force that sought to challenge French control of the Ohio River Valley, but met defeat at Fort Necessity, PA - an event that helped trigger the French and Indian War (1754-63). Late in 1754, irked by the dilution of his rank because of the pending arrival of British regulars, he resigned his commission. That same year, he leased Mount Vernon, which he was to inherit in 1761. In 1755 Washington reentered military service with the courtesy title of colonel, as an aide to Gen. Edward Braddock, and barely escaped death when the French defeated the general's forces in the Battle of the Monongahela, PA. As a reward for his bravery, Washington rewon his colonelcy and command of the Virginia militia forces, charged with defending the colony's frontier. Because of the shortage of men and equipment, he found the assignment challenging. Late in 1758 or early in 1759, disillusioned over governmental neglect of the militia and irritated at not rising in rank, he resigned and headed back to Mount Vernon.

Washington then wed Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow and mother of two children. The marriage produced no offspring, but Washington reared those of his wife as his own. During the period 1759-74, he managed his plantations and sat in the Virginia House of Burgesses. He supported the initial protests against British policies; took an active part in the nonimportation movement in Virginia; and, in time, particularly because of his military experience, became a Whig leader. By the 1770s, relations of the colony with the mother country had become strained. Measured in his behavior but strongly sympathetic to the Whig position and resentful of British restrictions and commercial exploitation, Washington represented Virginia at the First and Second Continental Congresses. In 1775, after the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, Congress appointed him as commander in chief of the Continental Army. Overcoming severe obstacles, especially in supply, he eventually fashioned a well-trained and disciplined fighting force.

The strategy Washington evolved consisted of continual harassment of British forces while avoiding general actions. Although his troops yielded much ground and lost a number of battles, they persevered even during the dark winters at Valley Forge, PA, and Morristown, NJ. Finally, with the aid of the French fleet and army, he won a climactic victory at the Battle of Yorktown, VA, in 1781. During the next 2 years, while still commanding the agitated Continental Army, which was underpaid and poorly supplied, Washington denounced proposals that the military take over the government, including one that planned to appoint him as king, but supported army petitions to the Continental Congress for proper compensation. Once the Treaty of Paris (1783) was signed, he resigned his commission and returned once again to Mount Vernon. His wartime financial sacrifices and long absence, as well as generous loans to friends, had severely impaired his extensive fortune, which consisted mainly of his plantations, slaves, and landholdings in the West. At this point, however, he was to have little time to repair his finances, for his retirement was brief.

Dissatisfied with national progress under the Articles of Confederation, Washington advocated a stronger central government. He hosted the Mount Vernon Conference (1785) at his estate after its initial meetings in Alexandria, though he apparently did not directly participate in the discussions. Despite his sympathy with the goals of the Annapolis Convention (1786), he did not attend. But, the following year, encouraged by many of his friends, he presided over the Constitutional Convention, whose success was immeasurably influenced by his presence and dignity. Following ratification of the new instrument of government in 1788, the electoral college unanimously chose him as the first President. The next year, after a triumphal journey from Mount Vernon to New York City, Washington took the oath of office at Federal Hall. During his two precedent-setting terms, he governed with dignity as well as restraint. He also provided the stability and authority the emergent nation so sorely needed, gave substance to the Constitution, and reconciled competing factions and divergent policies within the government and his administration. Although not averse to exercising presidential power, he respected the role of Congress and did not infringe upon its prerogatives. He also tried to maintain harmony between his Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, whose differences typified evolving party divisions from which Washington kept aloof.

Yet, usually leaning upon Hamilton for advice, Washington supported his plan for the assumption of state debts, concurred in the constitutionality of the bill establishing the Bank of the United States, and favored enactment of tariffs by Congress to provide federal revenue and protect domestic manufacturers. Washington took various other steps to strengthen governmental authority, including suppression of the Whisky Rebellion (1794). To unify the country, he toured the Northeast in 1789 and the South in 1791. During his tenure, the government moved from New York to Philadelphia in 1790, he superintended planning for relocation to the District of Columbia, and he laid the cornerstone of the Capitol (1793). In foreign affairs, despite opposition from the Senate, Washington exerted dominance. He fostered United States interests on the North American continent by treaties with Britain and Spain. Yet, until the nation was stronger, he insisted on the maintenance of neutrality. For example, when the French Revolution created war between France and Britain, he ignored the remonstrances of pro-French Jefferson and pro-English Hamilton.nAlthough many people encouraged Washington to seek a third term, he was weary of politics and refused to do so. In his "Farewell Address" (1796), he urged his countrymen to forswear party spirit and sectional differences and to avoid entanglement in the wars and domestic policies of other nations. Washington enjoyed only a few years of retirement at Mount Vernon. Even then, demonstrating his continued willingness to make sacrifices for his country in 1798 when the nation was on the verge of war with France he agreed to command the army, though his services were not ultimately required. He died at the age of 67 in 1799. In his will, he emancipated his slaves.

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Rufus King

King was born at Scarboro (Scarborough), MA (present Maine), in 1755. He was the eldest son of a prosperous farmer-merchant. At age 12, after receiving an elementary education at local schools, he matriculated at Dummer Academy in South Byfield, MA, and in 1777 graduated from Harvard. He served briefly as a general's aide during the War for Independence. Choosing a legal career, he read for the law at Newburyport, MA, and entered practice there in 1780. King's knowledge, bearing, and oratorical gifts soon launched him on a political career. From 1783 to 1785 he was a member of the Massachusetts legislature, after which that body sent him to the Continental Congress (1784-86). There, he gained a reputation as a brilliant speaker and an early opponent of slavery. Toward the end of his tour, in 1786, he married Mary Alsop, daughter of a rich New York City merchant. He performed his final duties for Massachusetts by representing her at the Constitutional Convention and by serving in the commonwealth's ratifying convention.

At age 32, King was not only one of the most youthful of the delegates at Philadelphia, but was also one of the most important. He numbered among the most capable orators. Furthermore, he attended every session. Although he came to the convention unconvinced that major changes should be made in the Articles of Confederation, his views underwent a startling transformation during the debates. With Madison, he became a leading figure in the nationalist caucus. He served with distinction on the Committee on Postponed Matters and the Committee of Style. He also took notes on the proceedings, which have been valuable to historians. About 1788 King abandoned his law practice, moved from the Bay State to Gotham, and entered the New York political forum. He was elected to the legislature (1789-90), and in the former year was picked as one of the state's first U.S. senators. As political divisions grew in the new government, King expressed ardent sympathies for the Federalists. In Congress, he supported Hamilton's fiscal program and stood among the leading proponents of the unpopular Jay's Treaty (1794).

Meantime, in 1791, King had become one of the directors of the First Bank of the United States. Reelected to the U.S. Senate in 1795, he served only a year before he was appointed as Minister to Great Britain (1796-1803). King's years in this post were difficult ones in Anglo-American relations. The wars of the French Revolution endangered U.S. commerce in the maritime clashes between the French and the British. The latter in particular violated American rights on the high seas, especially by the imprisonment of sailors. Although King was unable to bring about a change in this policy, he smoothed relations between the two nations. In 1803 King sailed back to the United States and to a career in politics. In 1804 and 1808 fellow-signer Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and he were the Federalist candidates for President and Vice President, respectively, but were decisively defeated. Otherwise, King largely contented himself with agricultural pursuits at King Manor, a Long Island estate he had purchased in 1805. During the War of 1812, he was again elected to the U.S. Senate (1813-25) and ranked as a leading critic of the war. Only after the British attacked Washington in 1814 did he come to believe that the United States was fighting a defensive action and to lend his support to the war effort. In 1816 the Federalists chose King as their candidate for the presidency, but James Monroe beat him handily. Still in the Senate, that same year King led the opposition to the establishment of the Second Bank of the United States. Four years later, believing that the issue of slavery could not be compromised but must be settled once and for all by the immediate establishment of a system of compensated emancipation and colonization, he denounced the Missouri Compromise. In 1825, suffering from ill health, King retired from the Senate. President John Quincy Adams, however, persuaded him to accept another assignment as Minister to Great Britain. He arrived in England that same year, but soon fell ill and was forced to return home the following year. Within a year, at the age of 72, in 1827, he died. Surviving him were several offspring, some of whom also gained distinction. He was laid to rest near King Manor in the cemetery of Grace Episcopal Church, Jamaica, Long Island, NY.

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Benjamin FranklinFRANKSM.gif (12906 bytes)

Franklin was born in 1706 at Boston. He was the tenth son of a soap and candlemaker. He received some formal education but was principally self-taught. After serving an apprenticeship to his father between the ages of 10 and 12, he went to work for his half-brother James, a printer. In 1721 the latter founded the New England Courant, the fourth newspaper in the colonies. Benjamin secretly contributed 14 essays to it, his first published writings. In 1723, because of dissension with his half-brother, Franklin moved to Philadelphia, where he obtained employment as a printer. He spent only a year there and then sailed to London for 2 more years. Back in Philadelphia, he rose rapidly in the printing industry. He published The Pennsylvania Gazette (1730-48), which had been founded by another man in 1728, but his most successful literary venture was the annual Poor Richard 's Almanac (1733-58). It won a popularity in the colonies second only to the Bible, and its fame eventually spread to Europe.

Meantime, in 1730 Franklin had taken a common-law wife, Deborah Read, who was to bear him a son and daughter, and he also apparently had children with another nameless woman out of wedlock. By 1748 he had achieved financial independence and gained recognition for his philanthropy and the stimulus he provided to such civic causes as libraries, educational institutions, and hospitals. Energetic and tireless, he also found time to pursue his interest in science, as well as to enter politics. Franklin served as clerk (1736-51) and member (1751-64) of the colonial legislature and as deputy postmaster of Philadelphia (1737-53) and deputy postmaster general of the colonies (1753-74). In addition, he represented Pennsylvania at the Albany Congress (1754), called to unite the colonies during the French and Indian War. The congress adopted his "Plan of Union," but the colonial assemblies rejected it because it encroached on their powers.

During the years 1757-62 and 1764-75, Franklin resided in England, originally in the capacity of agent for Pennsylvania and later for Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. During the latter period, which coincided with the growth of colonial unrest, he underwent a political metamorphosis. Until then a contented Englishman in outlook, primarily concerned with Pennsylvania provincial politics, he distrusted popular movements and saw little purpose to be served in carrying principle to extremes. Until the issue of parliamentary taxation undermined the old alliances, he led the Quaker party attack on the Anglican proprietary party and its Presbyterian frontier allies. His purpose throughout the years at London in fact had been displacement of the Penn family administration by royal authority-the conversion of the province from a proprietary to a royal colony.

It was during the Stamp Act crisis that Franklin evolved from leader of a shattered provincial party's faction to celebrated spokesman at London for American rights. Although as agent for Pennsylvania he opposed by every conceivable means the enactment of the bill in 1765, he did not at first realize the depth of colonial hostility. He regarded passage as unavoidable and preferred to submit to it while actually working for its repeal. Franklin's nomination of a friend and political ally as stamp distributor for Pennsylvania, coupled with his apparent acceptance of the legislation, armed his proprietary opponents with explosive issues. Their energetic exploitation of them endangered his reputation at home until reliable information was published demonstrating his unabated opposition to the act. For a time, mob resentment threatened his family and new home in Philadelphia until his tradesmen supporters rallied. Subsequently, Franklin's defense of the American position in the House of Commons during the debates over the Stamp Act's repeal restored his prestige at home.

Franklin returned to Philadelphia in May 1775 and immediately became a distinguished member of the Continental Congress. Thirteen months later, he served on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. He subsequently contributed to the government in other important ways, including service as postmaster general, and took over the duties of president of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention. But, within less than a year and a half after his return, the aged statesman set sail once again for Europe, beginning a career as diplomat that would occupy him for most of the rest of his life. In the years 1776-79, as one of three commissioners, he directed the negotiations that led to treaties of commerce and alliance with France, where the people adulated him, but he and the other commissioners squabbled constantly. While he was sole commissioner to France (1779-85), he and John Jay and John Adams negotiated the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the War for Independence.

Back in the United States, in 1785 Franklin became president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. At the Constitutional Convention, though he did not approve of many aspects of the finished document and was hampered by his age and ill-health, he missed few if any sessions, lent his prestige, soothed passions, and compromised disputes. In his twilight years, working on his Autobiography, Franklin could look back on a fruitful life as the toast of two continents. Energetic nearly to the last, in 1787 he was elected as first president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery-a cause to which he had committed himself as early as the 1730s. His final public act was signing a memorial to Congress recommending dissolution of the slavery system. Shortly thereafter, in 1790 at the age of 84, Franklin passed away in Philadelphia and was laid to rest in Christ Church Burial Ground.

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David Brearly

Brearly (Brearley) was descended from a Yorkshire, England, family, one of whose members migrated to New Jerseypicture around 1680. Signer Brearly was born in 1745 at Spring Grove near Trenton, was reared in the area, and attended but did not graduate from the nearby College of New Jersey (later Princeton). He chose law as a career and originally practiced at Allentown, NJ. About 1767 he married Elizabeth Mullen. Brearly avidly backed the Revolutionary cause. The British arrested him for high treason, but a group of patriots freed him. In 1776 he took part in the convention that drew up the state constitution. During the War for Independence, he rose from a captain to a colonel in the militia.

In 1779 Brearly was elected as chief justice of the New Jersey supreme court, a position he held until 1789. He presided over the precedent-setting case of Holmes v. Walton. His decision, rendered in 1780, represented an early expression of the principle of judicial review. The next year, the College of New Jersey bestowed an honorary M.A. degree on him. Brearly was 42 years of age when he participated in the Constitutional Convention. Although he did not rank among the leaders, he attended the sessions regularly. A follower of Paterson, who introduced the New Jersey Plan, Brearly opposed proportional representation of the states and favored one vote for each of them in Congress. He also chaired the Committee on Postponed Matters. Brearly's subsequent career was short, for he had only 3 years to live. He presided at the New Jersey convention that ratified the Constitution in 1788, and served as a presidential elector in 1789. That same year, President Washington appointed him as a federal district judge, and he served in that capacity until his death.

When free from his judicial duties, Brearly devoted much energy to lodge and church affairs. He was one of the leading members of the Masonic Order in New Jersey, as well as state vice president of the Society of the Cincinnati, an organization of former officers of the Revolutionary War. In addition, he served as a delegate to the Episcopal General Conference (1786) and helped write the church's prayer book. In 1783, following the death of his first wife, he had married Elizabeth Higbee. Brearly died in Trenton at the age of 45 in 1790. He was buried there at St. Michael's Episcopal Church.

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John Dickinson

Dickinson, "Penman of the Revolution," was born in 1732 at Crosiadore estate, near the village of Trappe in Talbot County, MD. He was the second son of Samuel Dickinson, the prosperous farmer, and his second wife, Mary (Cadwalader) Dickinson. In 1740 the family moved to Kent County near Dover, DE., where private tutors educated the youth. In 1750 he began to study law with John Moland in Philadelphia. In 1753 Dickinson went to England to continue his studies at London's Middle Temple. Four years later, he returned to Philadelphia and became a prominent lawyer there. In 1770 he married Mary Norris, daughter of a wealthy merchant. The couple had at least one daughter. By that time, Dickinson's superior education and talents had propelled him into politics. In 1760 he had served in the assembly of the Three Lower Counties (Delaware), where he held the speakership. Combining his Pennsylvania and Delaware careers in 1762, he won a seat as a Philadelphia member in the Pennsylvania assembly and sat there again in 1764. He became the leader of the conservative side in the colony's political battles. His defense of the proprietary governor against the faction led by Benjamin Franklin hurt his popularity but earned him respect for his integrity. Nevertheless, as an immediate consequence, he lost his legislative seat in 1764.

Meantime, the struggle between the colonies and the mother country had waxed strong and Dickinson had emerged in the forefront of Revolutionary thinkers. In the debates over the Stamp Act (1765), he played a key part. That year, he wrote The Late Regulations Respecting the British Colonies . . . Considered, an influential pamphlet that urged Americans to seek repeal of the act by pressuring British merchants. Accordingly, the Pennsylvania legislature appointed him as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, whose resolutions he drafted. In 1767-68 Dickinson wrote a series of newspaper articles in the Pennsylvania Chronicle that came to be known collectively as Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania. They attacked British taxation policy and urged resistance to unjust laws, but also emphasized the possibility of a peaceful resolution. So popular were the Letters in the colonies that Dickinson received an honorary LL.D. from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) and public thanks from a meeting in Boston. In 1768, responding to the Townshend Duties, he championed rigorous colonial resistance in the form of nonimportation and nonexportation agreements.

In 1771, Dickinson returned to the Pennsylvania legislature and drafted a petition to the king that was unanimously approved. Because of his continued opposition to the use of force, however, he lost much of his popularity by 1774. He particularly resented the tactics of New England leaders in that year and refused to support aid requested by Boston in the wake of the Intolerable Acts, though he sympathized with the city's plight. Reluctantly, Dickinson was drawn into the Revolutionary fray. In 1774 he chaired the Philadelphia committee of correspondence and briefly sat in the First Continental Congress as a representative from Pennsylvania. Throughout 1775, Dickinson supported the Whig cause, but continued to work for peace. He drew up petitions asking the king for redress of grievances. At the same time, he chaired a Philadelphia committee of safety and defense and held a colonelcy in the first battalion recruited in Philadelphia to defend the city.

After Lexington and Concord, Dickinson continued to hope for a peaceful solution. In the Second Continental Congress (1775-76), still a representative of Pennsylvania, he drew up them> Declaration of the Causes of Taking Up Arms. In the Pennsylvania assembly, he drafted an authorization to send delegates to Congress in 1776. It directed them to seek redress of grievances, but ordered them to oppose separation of the colonies from Britain. By that time, Dickinson's moderate position had left him in the minority. In Congress he voted against the Declaration of Independence (1776) and refused to sign it. Nevertheless, he then became one of only two contemporary congressional members (with Thomas McKean) who entered the military. When he was not reelected he resigned his brigadier general's commission and withdrew to his estate in Delaware. Later in 1776, though reelected to Congress by his new constituency, he declined to serve and also resigned from the Pennsylvania Assembly. He may have taken part in the Battle of Brandywine, PA (September 11, 1777), as a private in a special Delaware force but otherwise saw no further military action.

Dickinson came out of retirement to take a seat in the Continental Congress (1779-80), where he signed the Articles of Confederation; earlier he had headed the committee that had drafted them. In 1781 he became president of Delaware's Supreme Executive Council. Shortly thereafter, he moved back to Philadelphia. There, he became president of Pennsylvania (1782-85). In 1786, representing Delaware, he attended and chaired the Annapolis Convention. The next year, Delaware sent Dickinson to the Constitutional Convention. He missed a number of sessions and left early because of illness, but he made worthwhile contributions, including service on the Committee on Postponed Matters. Although he resented the forcefulness of Madison and the other nationalists, he helped engineer the Great Compromise and wrote public letters supporting constitutional ratification. Because of his premature departure from the convention, he did not actually sign the Constitution but authorized his friend and fellow-delegate George Read to do so for him. Dickinson lived for two decades more but held no public offices. Instead, he devoted himself to writing on politics and in 1801 published two volumes of his collected works. He died at Wilmington in 1808 at the age of 75 and was entombed in the Friends Burial Ground.

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Daniel Carrol

Daniel Carroll was member of a prominent Maryland family of Irish descent. A collateral branch was led by Charles Carrollpicture of Carrollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence. Daniel's older brother was John Carroll, the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States. Daniel was born in 1730 at Upper Marlboro, MD. Befitting the son of a wealthy Roman Catholic family, he studied for 6 years (1742-48) under the Jesuits at St. Omer's in Flanders. Then, after a tour of Europe, he sailed home and soon married Eleanor Carroll, apparently a first cousin of Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Not much is known about the next two decades of his life except that he backed the War for Independence reluctantly and remained out of the public eye. No doubt he lived the life of a gentleman planter.

In 1781 Carroll entered the political arena. Elected to the Continental Congress that year, he carried to Philadelphia the news that Maryland was at last ready to accede to the Articles of Confederation, to which he soon penned his name. During the decade, he also began a tour in the Maryland senate that was to span his lifetime and helped George Washington promote the Patowmack Company, a scheme to canalize the Potomac River so as to provide a transportation link between the East and the trans-Appalachian West. Carroll did not arrive at the Constitutional Convention until July 9, but thereafter he attended quite regularly. He spoke about 20 times during the debates and served on the Committee on Postponed Matters. Returning to Maryland after the convention, he campaigned for ratification of the Constitution but was not a delegate to the state convention. In 1789 Carroll won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he voted for locating the Nation's Capital on the banks of the Potomac and for Hamilton's program for the federal assumption of state debts. In 1791 George Washington named his friend Carroll as one of three commissioners to survey and define the District of Columbia, where Carroll owned much land. Ill health caused him to resign this post 4 years later, and the next year at the age of 65 he died at his home near Rock Creek in Forest Glen, MD. He was buried there in St. John's Catholic Cemetery.

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John Blair

Scion of a prominent Virginia family, Blair was born at Williamsburg in 1732. He was the son of John Blair, a colonial official and nephew ofblair.jpg (47920 bytes) James Blair, founder and first president of the College of William and Mary. Signer Blair graduated from that institution and studied law at London's Middle Temple. Thereafter, he practiced at Williamsburg. In the years 1766-70 he sat in the Virginia House of Burgesses as the representative of William and Mary. From 1770 to 1775 he held the position of clerk of the colony's council. An active patriot, Blair signed the Virginia Association of June 22, 1770, which pledged to abandon importation of British goods until the Townshend Duties were repealed. He also underwrote the Association of May 27, 1774, calling for a meeting of the colonies in a Continental Congress and supporting the Bostonians. He took part in the Virginia constitutional convention (1776), at which he sat on the committee that framed a declaration of rights as well as the plan for a new government. He next served on the Privy Council (1776-78). In the latter year, the legislature elected him as a judge of the General Court, and he soon took over the chief justiceship. In 1780 he won election to Virginia's high chancery court, where his colleague was George Wythe. Blair attended the Constitutional Convention religiously but never spoke or served on a committee. He usually sided with the position of the Virginia delegation. And, in the commonwealth ratifying convention, Blair helped win backing for the new framework of government. In 1789 Washington named Blair as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, where he helped decide many important cases. Resigning that post in 1796, he spent his remaining years in Williamsburg. A widower, his wife (born Jean Balfour) having died in 1792, he lived quietly until he succumbed in 1800. He was 68 years old. His tomb is in the graveyard of Bruton Parish Church.

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Jacob Broom

Broom was born in 1752 at Wilmington, DE., the eldest son of a blacksmith who prospered in farming. The youth was educated at home and probably at the local Old Academy. Although he followed his father into farming and also studied surveying, he was to make his career primarily in mercantile pursuits,Jacob Broom, Delaware including shipping and the import trade, and in real estate. In 1773 he married Rachel Pierce, who bore eight children. Broom was not a distinguished patriot. His only recorded service was the preparation of maps for George Washington before the Battle of Brandywine, PA. In 1776, at 24 years of age, Broom became assistant burgess of Wilmington. Over the next several decades, he held that office six times and that of chief burgess four times, as well as those of borough assessor, president of the city "street regulators," and justice of the peace for New Castle County. Broom sat in the state legislature in the years 1784-86 and 1788, during which time he was chosen as a delegate to the Annapolis Convention, but he did not attend. At the Constitutional Convention, he never missed a session and spoke on several occasions, but his role was only a minor one.

After the convention, Broom returned to Wilmington, where in 1795 he erected a home near the Brandywine River on the outskirts of the city. He was its first postmaster (1790-92) and continued to hold various local offices and to participate in a variety of economic endeavors. For many years, he chaired the board of directors of Wilmington's Delaware Bank. He also operated a cotton mill, as well as a machine shop that produced and repaired mill machinery. He was involved, too, in an unsuccessful scheme to mine bog iron ore. A further interest was internal improvements: toll roads, canals, and bridges. Broom also found time for philanthropic and religious activities. He served on the board of trustees of the College of Wilmington and as a lay leader at Old Swedes Church. He died at the age of 58 in 1810 while in Philadelphia on business and was buried there at Christ Church Burial Ground.

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William Richardson Davie

One of the eight delegates born outside of the thirteen colonies, Davie was born in Egremont, Cumberlandshire, England, on June 20, 1756. In 1763 Archibald Davie brought his son William to Waxhaw, SC, where the boy's maternal uncle, William Richardson, a Presbyterian clergyman, adopted him. Davie attended Queen's Museum College in Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) in 1776.  Davie's law studies in Salisbury, NC, were interrupted by military service, but he won his license to practice before county courts in 1779 and in the superior courts in 1780. When the War for Independence broke out, he helped raise a troop of cavalry near Salisbury and eventually achieved the rank of colonel. While attached to Pulaski's division, Davie was wounded leading a charge at Stono, near Charleston, on June 20, 1779. Early in 1780 he raised another troop and operated mainly in western North Carolina. In January 1781 Davie was appointed commissary-general for the Carolina campaign. In this capacity he oversaw the collection of arms and supplies to Gen. Nathanael Greene's army and the state militia.

After the war, Davie embarked on his career as a lawyer, traveling the circuit in North Carolina. In 1782 he married Sarah Jones, the daughter of his former commander, Gen. Allen Jones, and settled in Halifax. His legal knowledge and ability won him great respect, and his presentation of arguments was admired. Between 1786 and 1798 Davie represented Halifax in the North Carolina legislature. There he was the principal agent behind that body's actions to revise and codify state laws, send representatives to the Annapolis and Philadelphia conventions, cede Tennessee to the Union, and fix disputed state boundaries. During the Constitutional Convention Davie favored plans for a strong central government. He was a member of the committee that considered the question of representation in Congress and swung the North Carolina delegation's vote in favor of the Great Compromise. He favored election of senators and presidential electors by the legislature and insisted on counting slaves in determining representation. Though he left the convention on August 13, before its adjournment, Davie fought hard for the Constitution's ratification and took a prominent part in the North Carolina convention. The political and military realms were not the only ones in which Davie left his mark. The University of North Carolina, of which he was the chief founder, stands as an enduring reminder of Davie's interest in education. Davie selected the location, instructors, and a curriculum that included the literary and social sciences as well as mathematics and classics. In 1810 the trustees conferred upon him the title of "Father of the University" and in the next year granted him the degree of Doctor of Laws.

Davie became Governor of North Carolina in 1798. His career also turned back briefly to the military when President John Adams appointed him a brigadier general in the U.S. Army that same year. Davie later served as a peace commissioner to France in 1799. Davie stood as a candidate for Congress in 1803 but met defeat. In 1805, after the death of his wife, Davie retired from politics to his plantation, "Tivoli," in Chester County, South Carolina. In 1813 he declined an appointment as major-general from President Madison. Davie was 64 years old when he died on November 29, 1820, at "Tivoli," and he was buried in the Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Churchyard in northern Lancaster County.

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Gunning Bedford, Jr.

Bedford was born in 1747 at Philadelphia and reared there. The fifth of seven children, he was descended from a distinguished family that originally settled in Jamestown, VA. He usually referred to himself as Gunning Bedford, Jr., to avoid confusion with his cousin and contemporary Delaware statesman and soldier, Col. Gunning Bedford. In 1771 signer Bedford graduated with honors from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), where he was a classmate of James Madison. Apparently while still in school, Bedford wed Jane B. Parker, who bore at least one daughter. After reading law with Joseph Read in Philadelphia, Bedford won admittance to the bar and set up a practice. Subsequently, he moved to Dover and then to Wilmington. He apparently served in the Continental Army, possibly as an aide to General Washington.

Following the war, Bedford figured prominently in the politics of his state and nation. He sat in the legislature, on the state council, and in the Continental Congress (1783-85). In the latter year, he was chosen as a delegate to the Annapolis Convention but for some reason did not attend. From 1784 to 1789 he was attorney general of Delaware. Bedford numbered among the more active members of the Constitutional Convention, and he missed few sessions. A large and forceful man, he spoke on several occasions and was a member of the committee that drafted the Great Compromise. An ardent small-state advocate, he attacked the pretensions of the large states over the small and warned that the latter might be forced to seek foreign alliances unless their interests were accommodated. He attended the Delaware ratifying convention. For another 2 years, Bedford continued as Delaware's attorney general. In 1789 Washington designated him as a federal district judge for his state, an office he was to occupy for the rest of his life. His only other ventures into national politics came in 1789 and 1793, as a Federalist presidential elector. In the main, however, he spent his later years in judicial pursuits, in aiding Wilmington Academy, in fostering abolitionism, and in enjoying his Lombardy Hall farm. Bedford died at the age of 65 in 1812 and was buried in the First Presbyterian Churchyard in Wilmington. Later, when the cemetery was abandoned, his body was transferred to the Masonic Home, on the Lancaster Turnpike in Christiana Hundred, DE.

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