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Nicholas Van Dyke - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2020

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Birth: September 25, 1738
Death: February 19, 1789 (age 50)
Colony: Delaware
Occupation: Lawyer, Politician
Significance: Signed The Articles of Confederation (at the age of 39); served as a member of the Continental Congress(1777-1783); served as the President of Delaware (1783-1786)

Articles of Confederation - Original 1777 Printing

Nicholas Van Dyke was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in Delaware, Van Dyke was educated by his parents, before moving to Philadelphia to study law. After passing the Pennsylvania Bar in 1765, Van Dyke then moved back to Delaware, and he began a law practice in New Castle. 

Van Dyke was also engaged in politics, and he was sympathetic to the deteriorating conditions in Boston caused by the British. Van Dyke joined the Boston Relief Committee in 1774. Then in 1776, Van Dyke was a participant in the Delaware Constitutional Convention.

In 1777, Van Dyke left Delaware when he was elected to serve in the Second Continental Congress. While a member of the Continental Congress, Van Dyke was one of the last people to sign the Articles of Confederation. This was due to the fact that Delaware was the second to last state to ratify the Articles of Confederation, so Van Dyke did not sign the document until May 5, 1779, nearly a year after the first signers agreed to the Articles.

Van Dyke continued to serve in the Continental Congress until early 1783 when he was elected President of Delaware, a position roughly equivalent to the modern day Governor of Delaware. Van Dyke served as Governor until 1786, and he then served briefly as a State Senator before his death in 1789. 

Nicholas Van Dyke in Philadelphia

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

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

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