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John Collins - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2020

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Birth: June 8, 1717
Death: March 4, 1795 (age 77)
Colony: Rhode Island
Occupation: Merchant, Politician
Significance: Signed The Articles of Confederation (at the age of 61); served in the Continental Congress (1778-1781); served as Governor of Rhode Island (1786-1790)

Articles of Confederation - Original 1777 Printing

John Collins was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in Newport, Rhode Island, Collins became a successful merchant and businessman. 

As tensions erupted between the American Colonies and the British and the Revolutionary War began, Collins was a vocal supporter of American independence. In 1778, Collins was elected to serve in the Second Continental Congress. While in the Continental Congress, Collins was among the first first to sign the Articles of Confederation on July 9, 1778 after the Articles were ratified by his Colony of Rhode Island. 

Collins remained in Continental Congress until 1781 when he lost reelection and returned Rhode Island. He won election to the Continental Congress again the following year in 1782, and he served an additional year before once again before returning to Rhode Island. In 1786, Collins was elected as the Governor of Rhode Island, and he served in this critical role while Rhode Island attempted to decide whether or not they should ratify the Constitution of the United States.

The Constitution was widely criticized in Rhode Island since many thought that the Constitution would enable other states to overpower Rhode Island, the nations' smallest state. While Collins shared some of these concerns, he also understood the benefit of a Federal connection to the rest of the United States. Collins cast the tie breaking vote as Governor, and the Constitution was subsequently ratified, making Rhode Island the last of the thirteen colonies to officially join the untion.The move was however unpopular in Rhode Island and it cost Collins him his job as Governor, as he was not reelected. Collins died a few years later in 1795.

John Collins in Philadelphia

John Collins first traveled to Philadelphia to serve as a member of the Second Continental Congress. While in the Continental Congress, Collins worked at Independence Hall, where he signed The Articles of Confederation. 

Today, Independence Hall is among the stops visited along The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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