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Richard Dobbs Spaight - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Monday, December 23, 2019

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Birth: March 25, 1758
Death: September 6, 1802 (aged 44)
Colony: North Carolina
Occupation: Soldier, Politician
Significance: Signed the United States Constitution (at the age of 29); served as Governor of North Carolina (1792 - 1795); and served as a United States Congressman (1798-1801)

Richard Dobbs Spaight Statue in Signers' Hall at the National Constitution Center

Richard Dobbs Spaight was born in North Carolina to a prominent family since his father was Secretary of the Crown and his father's uncle served as the Royal Governor in North Carolina.  In 1765, Spaight was orphaned when he was only eight years old, and ge was sent to Ireland to live with relatives. Spaight attended the University of Glasgow before returning to North Carolina in 1778.

When Spaight returned to America, the Revolutionary War was ongoing and Spaight served in Continental Army until large scale fighting ended in 1781. Spaight was elected to the Continental Congress (Congress of the Confederation) to represent North Carolina in 1782, and he held that position until 1785.

In 1787, Spaight was named a member of the Constitutional Convention which met in Philadelphia. At the Constitutional Convention, Spaight represented North Carolina and helped to debate, draft and sign the United States Constitution. Spaight was one of the youngest signers at only 29 years old.

Spaight retired from politics for a number of years due to failing health, but he was elected Governor of North Carolina in 1792 and served in that role until 1795. In 1798, Spaight was elected to the United States House of Representatives to represent his district in North Carolina. Spaight served in Congress until 1801, and then he died the following year (1802) at the age of only 44.

Richard Dobbs Spaight in Philadelphia

Richard Dobbs Spaight first lived in Philadelphia to serve in the Continental Congress, and he also lived in the Philly while he helped to write the United States Constitution as a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, which met at Independence Hall. Spaight also worked in Congress Hall as a United States Congressman while Philadelphia was the Capital city of the United States. Today, you can also see a statue commemorating Spaight for his role in the creation of the United States Constitution in the Signers' Hall exhibit of the National Constitution Center. Signers' Garden pays tribute to the Founding Fathers, including those such as Spaight who signed the Constitution of the United States. The National Constitution Center, Congress Hall, Signers' Garden, Independence Hall, and the original location of the University of Pennsylvania are all visited on The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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