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Stephen Hopkins - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2019

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Birth: March 7, 1707
Death: July 13, 1785 (age 78)
Colony: Rhode Island
Occupation: Merchant, Politician, Judge
Significance: Signed The Declaration of Independence (at the age of 69); served as the Governor of Rhode Island; served as Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court; and co-founded Brown University

Stephen Hopkins

Stephen Hopkins was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Hopkins was born in Rhode Island to a very prominent family whose ancestors had helped found the Colony of Rhode Island.

Hopkins was privately tutored and after receiving his education, Hopkins began a successful career as a merchant who helped to shape and grow the City of Providence. Hopkins also became involved in politics and served as Governor of Rhode Island on four separate occasions during the Colonial time period. Hopkins also served as the Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court. He also helped found the College of Rhode Island (today it is known as Brown University).

Hopkins became an outspoken critic of British policies and taxation in the years following the French and Indian War, publishing a pamphlet that criticized the Stamp Act and other British policies while advocating for the rights of colonists.

In 1774, Hopkins was chosen to be one Rhode Island's representatives to the First Continental Congress. The following year, Hopkins served in the Second Continental Congress. Hopkins voted for Independence, and he signed The Declaration of Independence. After signing The Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776, Hopkins could not remain in Congress for much longer due to his deteriorating health, which led to his resignation from the Second Continental Congress in September of 1776.

Upon his return to Rhode Island, Hopkins remained an active member of the Rhode Island General Assembly before retiring in 1779. Hopkins died a few years later in 1785 at the age of 78.

Stephen Hopkins in Philadelphia

Hopkins arrived in Philadelphia as a Delegate to the First Continental Congress which met at Carpenters' Hall in September 1774. Hopkins returned the following year in 1775 as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. While serving as a member of the Second Continental Congress, Hopkins worked at Independence Hall, and he signed The Declaration of Independence. A plaque commemorating Hopkins for signing The Declaration of Independence can be found on Signers' Walk on the 600 block of Chestnut Street (between 5th and 6th Streets).

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