BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

Regarding Those Quoted Who Are Not So Well Known As the Former Presidents and Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton, Concerning Some Main Details of Their Careers

Adams, Samuel; 1722-1803; lawyer, business man, statesman; pre-1776 leader in Boston for "Liberty and Independence," notably as early as 1764 in opposing the Stamp Act; a leader of Mass. legislature 1765-1774, then a member (until 1781) of the Continental Congress, in which he continued to be a leader for "Liberty and Independence;" author and co-author of many famous "Liberty" writings, including documents of the Mass. legislature and Resolutions of Town of Boston; signer of Declaration of Independence; member of Mass. Constitutional Convention 1779-1780 which framed history's first true Constitution; member for years of Mass. Senate and Council; member of Mass. Convention which ratified U.S. Constitution, 1788; Lt. Governor 1789-1793, then Governor until 1797.

Allen, Rev. Thomas; 1743-1810; first clergyman in Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Mass., 1764--served 46 years in that then frontier region; for years prior to 1776 a leader in the fight for Liberty--partly as head of "The Berkshire Constitutionalists" in the forefront of the movement for written Constitutions to safeguard Liberty; always active in town-meetings in this connection, helping to draft and get adopted appropriate resolutions; active as a Chaplain in the Revolutionary forces; typified New England clergy's leadership in working and fighting for "Liberty and Independence."

Barlow, Joel; 1754-1812; poet, teacher and statesman; while a college student, 1776, fought in Battle of Long Island; author of epic poem: "The Vision of Columbus" envisioning a majestic future for America; made U.S. Minister to France by President Monroe.

de Crévecoeur, Michel-Guillaume Jean (pen name: J. Hector St. John); 1735-1813; farmer, traveller, writer; native of France, pioneer to French Canada, 1754; came to New York 1759, travelled extensively in America and, becoming an American citizen in 1765, settled as a farmer in New York and wrote his famous Letters From An American Farmer (1782) under name of J. Hector St. John de Crévecoeur, extolling freedom and life in America.

Dickinson, John; 1732-1808; lawyer, writer and statesman; from time to time member of legislatures of both Delaware (as part of Pa.) and Pennsylvania--also at times President of governments of both Delaware and Pennsylvania; wrote the famous and widely influential "Letters From A Farmer in Pennsylvania" (1767) espousing the cause of American liberties as opposed to British tyranny; member of 1st and 2nd Continental Congresses (did not sign the Declaration of Independence, as being premature); Colonel of first battalion raised in Philadelphia 1775-1776; elected President of Supreme Executive Council of Delaware in 1781 and thereafter held same office in Pennsylvania; in 1787 a member of the Federal Convention which framed the Constitution and one of its signers.

Eliot, Rev. Andrew; 1718-1778; a prominent clergyman in Boston--upheld the Congregational Church in opposition to the Episcopalian Church; in the pre-1776 period a strong supporter of the American cause of "Liberty and Independence;" for example, in Election Sermon on May 29, 1765 (the same day Patrick Henry introduced his famous Resolutions in the Virginia legislature against the Stamp Act) delivered before the Royal Governor and the legislature of Massachusetts, he upheld the right of resistance against usurpers and tyranny.

Ellsworth, Oliver; 1745-1807; lawyer, statesman, judge; member of Continental Congress 1777-1783; member of Governor's Council of Conn., 1780; member of Federal Convention, 1787, which framed the Constitution and in 1788 member of the Conn. Ratifying Convention--writing "Letters of a Landholder" in favor of ratification; member of U.S. Senate 1789-1796; appointed Chief Justice of the U.S., 1796; U.S. Commissioner to France 1799-1800.

Gadsden, Christopher; 1724-1805; merchant, Revolutionary leader, statesman; member of Assembly of S.C. from 1757 onward over a period of 30 years; a leader in pre-1776 period for protection of American rights against British tyranny; member of Stamp Act Congress, 1765--a leader for union of the colonies; member of 1st and 2nd Continental Congress--left latter in Jan. 1776 to become active as Colonel of S.C. forces, after membership in S.C. Provincial Congress advocating American independence in Feb. 1776; Brig. General in Continental Army Sept., 1776; in S.C. Convention which ratified the U.S. Constitution, 1788 and in S.C. Convention, 1790, regarding the State Constitution.

Gerry, Elbridge; 1744-1814; Revolutionary leader and statesman; in pre-1776, a fiery supporter in Mass. of the cause of "Liberty and Independence;" member of Mass. legislature 1772-1773 and thereafter of 1st and 2nd Provincial Congresses of Mass.; member of 2nd Continental Congress 1775-1776 and a signer of the Declaration of Independence; member of the Federal Convention which framed the U.S. Constitution, 1787 but did not sign it, thereafter opposing ratification and wrote "Observations on the New Constitution..." stating his views; elected to Congress 1789; Vice President under President Madison, 1812.

Hancock, John; 1736/7-1793; merchant and statesman; member of Mass. legislature 1769; President Mass. Provincial Congress, 1774-1775; member and President of Continental Congress, 1775-1776, being first signer of the Declaration of Independence; member of Mass. Convention which adopted history's first genuine Constitution, 1780; elected first Governor of Mass. and re-elected intermittently for total of nine terms, dying in office in 1793; in 1788 presided over the Mass. Convention which ratified the U.S. Constitution.

Henry, Patrick; 1736-1799; lawyer, statesman, Revolutionary leader; member of Va. legislature 1765, when he introduced famous Resolutions, and made celebrated address, against Stamp Act; member of 1st Va. Convention and of 1st Continental Congress, 1774; in 2nd Va. Convention, 1775, made his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" address; member of 2nd Continental Congress, 1775, and of 3rd Va. Convention, 1776--helped draft first Va. "Constitution" and declaration favoring Independence, May, 1776; Governor of Va. several terms; opposed ratification of U.S. Constitution--fearing danger of usurpation and abuse of power by Federal government and demanding amendments to limit its power more strictly.

Iredell, James; 1751-1799; lawyer, judge, statesman; active in support of American rights prior to 1776; member of N.C. Council and a supporter of ratification of U.S. Constitution in 1788 N.C. Convention; appointed to U.S. Supreme Court in 1790 where, as early as 1792, he upheld "judicial review"--judges' enforcing the Constitution against violations by other Branches of government.

Jay, John; 1745-1829; judge and statesman; member of 1st and 2nd Continental Congresses, also N.Y. Provincial Congress; chief draftsman of "Constitution" of N.Y., 1776; Chief Justice of N.Y. 1776-1779; member and President of Continental Congress, 1778; Minister to Spain, 1779; member of Commission to negotiate treaty with Great Britain, 1782; in charge of foreign affairs for the Confederation government, 1784-1790; co-author with Madison and Hamilton of The Federalist, 1787-1788, written in support of ratification of the Constitution (he wrote 5 essays on foreign affairs); appointed first Chief Justice of the U.S., 1789; negotiated "Jay's Treaty" with Great Britain in 1794; elected Governor of N.Y. in 1795, served until 1800 and, as such, signed into law the Act abolishing slavery in N.Y.

Lee, Richard Henry; Revolutionary leader and statesman; entered Va. legislature 1758; a leader in opposing Stamp Act, 1764--closely allied with Patrick Henry in fight for "Liberty and Independence;" member 1st and 2nd Continental Congresses, 1774-1776; a leader in Va. Convention, May, 1776 calling for declaration of Independence by Congress--in the latter offering "Independence" Resolution, June 7, 1776; returned to Va. to help form its new government; later member of Congress--its President, 1784--and helped in the adoption, 1787, of Northwest Ordinance; opposed ratification of U.S. Constitution due to fear of usurpation and abuse of power by Federal government--urged amendments to limit its power more strictly and expressed his views in the widely read "Letters From the Federal Farmer;" as a member of U.S. Senate, 1789, helped in framing of first amendments ("Bill of Rights") to the Constitution.

Livingston, William; 1723-1790; lawyer and statesman; a political leader of popular causes in New York State but removed to his N.J. estate after political defeat in N.Y. in 1779; delegate from N.J. to 1st and 2nd Continental Congress; commanded N.J. Militia in 1776; elected first Governor of State of N.J. and served for 14 years; in 1787 was a member of the Federal Convention which framed the Constitution and was a signer.

Marshall, John; 1755-1835; judge and statesman; officer in Revolutionary army--at Valley Forge; member of Va. Bar and then Assembly 1782-1784, again in 1787; member of Va. Convention in 1788 which ratified the U.S. Constitution--stating then that courts would declare void any legislative Act violating the Constitution; U.S. Commissioner to France, 1797; member of Congress 1799; Secretary of State, 1800; appointed Chief Justice of the U.S., 1801 and served until his death.

Mason, George; 1725-1792; judge and statesman; member Va. legislature, 1759 and a leader in the cause of American rights in opposition to British tyranny; author "Fairfax Resolves," 1774; member Va. Convention, 1775 and 1776--when he drafted Va. Declaration of Rights and a good part of Va. "Constitution;" in Va. legislature 1776-1780 and later; active in work leading up to 1787 Convention which framed U.S. Constitution, also as a member; did not sign Constitution and opposed ratification due to fear of inadequate limits on Federal power to prevent its becoming tyrannical; urged addition of "Bill of Rights;" was one of principal slave-owners (including Washington and Jefferson) who deplored existence of slavery and favored abolition, with compensation by government to owners of freed slaves.

Mayhew, Rev. Jonathan; 1720-1776; a leading New England clergyman; served West Church in Boston from 1747 to death; famous, in part, for his 1750 and 1754 Election Sermons espousing American rights--the cause of Liberty and the right and duty to resist tyranny; other famous sermons included "The Snare Broken," 1766. His sermons and writings were a powerful influence in the development of the movement for "Liberty and Independence," exemplifying in exceptional degree the leadership of the New England clergy in this connection.

Morris, Gonverneur; 1752-1816; lawyer and statesman; member of N.Y. Provincial Congress, 1775 and N.Y. Convention in 1776 which framed this State's "Constitution;" member of Continental Congress 1778-1779; assisted Robert Morris 1781-1785 as Superintendent of Finance for the Confederation government; member (from Pa.) of 1787 Convention which framed U.S. Constitution, of which he was a signer; U.S. Minister to France, 1792-1794.

Pinckney, Charles; 1757-1824; member of S.C. legislature, 1779-1780; member of Confederation Congress, 1784-1787; member of 1787 Convention which framed U.S. Constitution and proposed a number of suggestions which were incorporated in it; Governor of S.C. several terms; elected to U.S. Senate, 1798; U.S. Minister to Spain, under President Jefferson.

Otis, James; 1725-1783; lawyer, political writer and early leader, firebrand defender of American Rights in opposition to British tyranny; resigned royal office to fight in court the infamous Writs of Assistance Act in 1761; elected to Mass. legislature, 1761 and a political leader of the Colony until 1769; an organizer of Sons of Liberty--ardent supporters of cause of "Liberty"; wrote his famous "The Rights of the British Colonies--Asserted and Proved," 1764---adopted by Mass. legislature as own document; member of Stamp Act Congress; he and Sam. Adams, as members of Mass. legislature, largely instrumental in drafting many "State Papers" in support of American rights against British tyranny; a head injury in 1771 virtually ended his usefulness.

Parsons, Theophilus; 1750-1813; judge and statesman; a leader in Essex County Convention which opposed 1778 draft of Constitution for Mass.--per its "Essex Result" report, written by him; a leader in 1779 Convention regarding new Mass. Constitution; in 1788 member of Mass. Convention which ratified U.S. Constitution--wrote address of its presiding officer, John Hancock; member of Mass. legislature 1787-1791, also 1805; became Chief Justice of Mass. in 1806.

Rush, Benjamin; 1745-1813; physician, educator, humanitarian, patriot leader, writer; a physician in Philadelphia; Professor of Chemistry, College of Phila.; in 1774 helped organize society favoring abolition of slavery and its president, 1803; member Pa. Provincial Convention, 1776--a leader for Independence; member of Continental Congress, 1776, and a signer of Declaration of Independence; Surgeon General of part of army, 1777; lecturer at Pa. State College, 1778 and helped found Dickinson College, 1783--one of its trustees; member of Pa. Convention which ratified U.S. Constitution--a leader for ratification; in 1789 helped adopt improved State Constitution; a vigorous supporter of prison reform, better education, and other social progress.

Story, Joseph; 1779-1845; law professor, jurist, statesman; member of Mass. legislature, 1805 and in 1811--Speaker of the House; member of Congress 1808-1809; member of U.S. Supreme Court 1811 to his death; simultaneously member of Law Faculty of Harvard University, 1829 to death; author of celebrated Commentaries on the Constitution of the U.S., 1833.

Warren, Joseph; 1741-1775; educator, physician, soldier, patriot leader; in pre-1776 period, extremely active in the cause of "Liberty and Independence" in association with Samuel and John Adams, John Hancock and others in Boston; drafted the famous "Suffolk Resolves" sent to the Continental Congress; engaged in a multitude of public duties; President of Mass. Provincial Congress, 1775; appointed by Continental Congress to be a Major General, 1775; fought and killed at battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775.

West, Rev. Samuel; 1730-1807; served church in Dartmouth, Mass. from 1761 to 1803 (later re-named New Bedford); deciphered for General Washington the treasonous letter of Benjamin Church; delivered Sermon in 1776 before the Mass. Council; a member of a committee which framed the Constitution of Mass.; a member of the Mass. Convention which ratified the U.S. Constitution, 1788.

Williams, Rev. Elisha; 1694-1755; educator, clergyman, soldier, statesman; in 1717 and for 5 sessions member of Conn. legislature; ordained a clergyman 1722 and served Wethersfield church until 1726; then made Rector of Yale College, served for 13 years; member of Conn. legislature 1740-1749; in 1744 wrote "A Seasonable Plea for the Liberty of Conscience and the Right of Private Judgment in Matters of Religion Without any Controul from Human Authority;" also a Colonel of Militia; a delegate to the Albany Congress, 1754.

Wilson, James; 1742-1798; educator, statesman and jurist; arrived in America from Scotland 1765; admitted to the Bar 1767 after study in office of John Dickinson; instructor College of Philadelphia; member of Pa. Provincial Convention, 1774; wrote a widely distributed essay showing why Parliament lacked authority over the American Colonies; member of 2nd Continental Congress, voted for Independence and a signer of Declaration of Independence; also in Congress repeatedly in period 1777-1787; member of the Federal Convention, 1787, which framed the Constitution--of which he was a signer; member of Pa. Ratifying Convention, Oct.-Dec., 1787; became member of U.S. Supreme Court 1789; lectured on law 1790-1791 at College of Philadelphia.

Wise, Rev. John; 1652-1725; a leading churchman and a strong supporter of Liberty; served Congregational church in parish of Ipswich, Mass. from ordination to his death; led fellow townsmen in 1687 in revolt against tax levied by the royal Governor Andros without consent of legislative body--was jailed in the course of the dispute; in 1717 wrote A Vindication of the Government of New England Churches, in which he stressed the main principles to be proclaimed in 1776 in the Declaration of Independence; exemplified the early leadership of the American people by the New England clergy in support of the cause of Liberty.

Witherspoon, Rev. John; 1723-1794; educator, statesman, church leader; came to America from Scotland in 1768 by invitation to be head of Princeton College, then a Presbyterian institution; an outspoken advocate of cause of "Liberty and Independence;" member of the 2nd Continental Congress, 1776, and signed Declaration of Independence; served in Congress until 1782; at Princeton 1782-1794; member of legislature of N.J., 1783, and of 1787 Convention in N.J. which ratified U.S. Constitution; in 1789 became Moderator of first General Assembly of Presbyterian Church.

 

(General Reference: Dictionary of American Biography)