John Witherspoon on William Franklin's arrest, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1776

Contributed by Maine Historical Society


John Witherspoon, a native of Scotland, came to America in 1768 to serve as president at what became Princeton University. Witherspoon’s students openly favored the patriot cause by 1770, and he himself promoted the idea of resistance to the Crown in a commencement speech.

Witherspoon began serving the New Jersey Provincial Assembly in 1774 and eventually represented the colony at the Continental Congress. During the final debate for independence, Witherspoon declared that he believed the colonies were long overdue for separation from Britain. He signed the Declaration on August 2, 1776, and was the only clergyman among the signers.

Witherspoon’s letter to Philip Livingston primarily refers to the transfer of former Royal Governor William Franklin. Although he was the son of patriot Benjamin Franklin, William Franklin remained loyal to the King and was placed under house arrest early in 1776.

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About This Item

  • Title: John Witherspoon on William Franklin's arrest, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1776
  • Creator: John Witherspoon
  • Creation Date: 1776-07-03
  • Subject Date: 1776-07-03
  • Location: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA
  • Media: Ink on paper
  • Dimensions: 22.86 cm x 20.95 cm
  • Local Code: Coll. 420, Box 59/31
  • Collection: John S. H. Fogg autograph collection
  • Object Type: Text

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Maine Historical Society
485 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-1822 x230

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