The Writings of Thomas Jefferson - Vol. 15

By Andrew A. Lipscomb; Albert Ellery Bergh et al. | Go to book overview

Connecticut and Rhode Island Signers
(Declaration of Independence)

The Reproductions are from the Original Paintings in Independence Hall, Philadelphia.

Oliver Wolcott ( 1726-1797) was born at Windsor, Conn. He was educated at Yale College, where he was graduated in 1747; the same year he received a captain's commission and raised a company that marched to the northern frontier and defended the border settlement. On his return he studied medicine, but gave it up when appointed sheriff of Litchfield County, in 1751. In 1775 he was sent by the Continental Congress as one of the commissioners to secure neutrality of the Indians in the contemplated war. He attended Congress in 1776, and after the signing of the Declaration returned to his State to take command of the frontier regiment of Connecticut militia ordered for the defense of New York. The following year he assisted General Gates with a body of volunteers in the defeat of Burgoyne. In 1786 he was elected Lieutenant-Governor of Connecticut and re-elected successively for ten years. The last year of his life he held the Governorship of the State. (Reproduced from the Painting by Lambdin after the Original Painting by John Trumbull.)

Roger Sherman ( 1721-1793) was born at Newton, Mass. During his early manhood he was a shoemaker, and in this way after his father's death supported his mother and her younger children. He studied constantly. In 1743 he went to New Milford, Conn., where he kept a small store in partnership with his elder brother. In 1745 he was appointed county surveyor. He applied himself to the study of law and was admitted to the Bar in 1754. A few years later he became Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. In 1774 he was appointed a member of Congress, where he remained up to the time of his death. In 1784 he was elected Mayor of New Haven. He was one of the most able members of the Constitution Convention of 1787. Jefferson held a high opinion of him and declared he had "never said a foolish thing in his life." (Reproduced from the Painting by Hicks after the Original Painting by Earle.)

William Williams ( 1731-1811) was born at Lebanon, Conn. In 1751 he was graduated at Harvard College. He then began to study theology, but in 1755 relinquished this course to join the regiment of Colonel Ephraim Williams, which engaged in the battle of Lake George. In 1773 he became a member of the Connecticut Committee of Correspondence, and two years later an active member of the Committee of Safety. After serving in the Legislature he was elected a member of the Continental Congress in 1775, and twice re-elected. He was a member of the convention of Connecticut which adopted the Federal Constitution. He wrote several essays inspiring the people to fight for freedom; for the same cause he gave nearly all his fortune. (Reproduced from the Painting by Sawyer after the Original Painting by John Trumbull.)

Stephen Hopkins ( 1707-1785) was born at Scituate, R. I. He was largely self-taught. He went to Providence to live in 1731 and engaged there in mercantile business. He became a Justice of the Peace and Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in 1739 and of the Superior Court in 1751. Excepting four years, he was Governor of Rhode Island from 1754 to 1768. He served on many important committees, especially those of correspondence and the navy. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1774 and remained there four years. He was a member of the Rhode Island Legislature and one of the committee that drafted the articles of confederation for the government of the State. He was Chancellor of Brown University for many years. (Reproduced from the Painting by Lambdin after the Original Painting by John Trumbull.)

William Ellery ( 1727-1820) was born at Newport, R. I. He was graduated at Harvard in 1747. While in commercial life he studied law and was admitted to the Bar. He was one of the earliest advocates of the freedom of the colonies. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776. He served on important committees relative to diplomacy and finance. He was appointed Commissioner of Loans in 1786. While Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island he made efforts with Rufus King to abolish slavery in the United States. (Reproduced from the Original Painting by Waugh.)

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