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John Banister - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2020

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Birth: December 26, 1734
Death: September 30, 1788 (age 53)
Colony: Virginia
Occupation: Plantation Owner, Lawyer, Politician
Significance: Signed The Articles of Confederation (at the age of 43); served in the Continental Congress (1778-1781)

John Banister Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, Philadelphia 1775

John Banister was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in Virginia, Banister received a private education and then traveled to London, to study to be a lawyer at Middle Temple.

Upon his return to Virginia, Banister began a law practice in Petersburg, Virginia and operated a plantation, where nearly 100 slaves labored. In 1765, Banister served in the Virginia House of Burgesses, and in 1775, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

In 1778, Banister was elected and served in the Second Continental Congress. Banister traveled to Philadelphia to serve in the Continental Congress, and he was among the first signers of the Articles of Confederation on July 9, 1778 after the Articles were ratified by his Colony of Virginia. 

Banister also served as a Colonel in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War, and he returned to Virginia in 1781 to defend against the British invasion of his home state.  Following his return to Virginia, Banister was re-elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1781, and he served again until 1783 when the Revolutionary War concluded. Banister then continued his career as a lawyer until his death five years later in 1788.

John Banister in Philadelphia

Banister came to Philadelphia in 1778 as a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress. While serving as a member of the Second Continental Congress, Banister worked at Independence Hall, where he signed The Articles of Confederation.

Today, Independence Hall is a stop visited along The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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