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William Whipple - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Sunday, January 12, 2020

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Birth: January 14, 1730
Death: November 28, 1785 (age 55)
Colony: New Hampshire
Occupation: Sailor, Merchant, Politician, Soldier
Significance: Signed The Declaration of Independence (at the age of 46)

William Whipple

William Whipple was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Whipple was born in what is today the State of Maine, and he was educated in a common school before leaving to become a sailor. Whipple became a successful merchant and made a fortune in the slavery and rum trades. As a prominent merchant, Whipple became a leading voice against Britain's attempts to exert additional authority over the American Colonies through taxes which hurt Whipple's business interests.

In 1775, Whipple was elected to the New Hampshire Provincial Congress and helped New Hampshire become the first state to set up a new government after the start of the Revolutionary War and the dissolution of New Hampshire's Colonial government. Also in 1775, Whipple was named to the Second Continental Congress where he voted for Independence and participated in the debate over the wording of The Declaration of Independence, which he subsequently signed on August 2, 1776. Whipple remained in Congress until he left elected office in 1777 to take command of four New Hampshire militia regiments and fight in the Revolutionary War. Whipple was a hero of the Battle of Saratoga, often cited as the first major American victory in the Revolution and a turning point of the Revolutionary War. Whipple rose to the rank of Brigadier General in his distinguished military career.  

After the Revolutionary War ended, Whipple returned to New Hampshire where he was named an Associate Justice of New Hampshire's Supreme Court, a position which he held for a few years until his sudden death in 1785 at the age of 55.

William Whipple in Philadelphia

Whipple arrived in Philadelphia in 1775 as a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress. While serving as a member of the Second Continental Congress, Whipple worked at Independence Hall, and he signed The Declaration of Independence. A plaque commemorating Whipple for signing The Declaration of Independence can be found on Signers' Walk on the 600 block of Chestnut Street (between 5th and 6th Streets). Signers' Garden pays tribute to the Founding Fathers, including those such as Whipple, who signed The Declaration of Independence. Signer's Walk, Signers' Garden, and Independence Hall are all visited on The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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