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Jonathan Bayard Smith - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2020

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Birth: February 21, 1742
Death: June 16, 1812 (age 70)
Colony: Pennsylvania
Occupation: Merchant, Soldier, Politician
Significance: Signed The Articles of Confederation (at the age of 36); served as a member of the Continental Congress (1777-1778); served at the Auditor General of Pennsylvania (1794)

Jonathan Bayard Smith

Jonathan Bayard Smith was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in Philadelphia, Smith grew up in the city and received a private education funded by his father who was a successful merchant.

Smith attended Princeton and graduated in 1760 before he went to work at his father's business. Smith was a member of the American Philosophical Society, America's first scholarly society, founded by fellow Philadelphian Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin.

As the conflict between the American Colonies and Britain started pushing toward the Revolutionary War, Smith became a member of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, and he joined the Pennsylvania Militia as a Lieutenant Colonel. Smith fought in the Battle of Brandywine while serving in the Pennsylvania Militia.

Smith left the Pennsylvania Militia when he was elected to serve in the Second Continental Congress in early 1777. While in the Continental Congress, Smith was among the first signers of the Articles of Confederation on July 9, 1778 after the Articles were ratified by his Colony of Pennsylvania. 

Smith left the Continental Congress in 1778 after being appointed to serve as a justice on the Court of Common Pleas. In 1779, Smith was one of the founders of the University of the State of Pennsylvania, which in 1791 merged with the College of Philadelphia and became known as the University of Pennsylvania. Smith continued serving on the University of Pennsylvania's Board of Trustees, and he also became a Trustee of Princeton University, his alma mater. In 1794, Smith was named the Auditor General of Pennsylvania. Smith died in Philadelphia in 1812 at the age of 70.

Jonathan Bayard Smith in Philadelphia

Jonathan Bayard Smith lived in Philadelphia for much of his life. Philadelphia is the city in which Smith grew up, where he began his career as a merchant and became involved in politics. While in Philadelphia, Smith was a member of the American Philosophical Society which met at Philosophical Hall. Smith also served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. While serving as a member of the Second Continental Congress, Smith worked at Independence Hall, where he signed The Articles of Confederation. Smith was also a central figure in the creation of the University of Pennsylvania, America's oldest University.

Today, Independence Hall, Philosophical Hall and the original location of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) are some of the stops visited along The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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