Showing posts from January, 2023

Founding Fathers - William Williams

William Williams Born: April 8, 1731 (Lebanon, CT) Died: August 2, 1811 (Lebanon, CT) I'll be honest, I picked this week's focus because his repetitive name caught my attention.  William Williams was born in 1731 to a popular Congregationalist minister and his wife, Solomon and Mary Williams, in the small town of Lebanon.  Young William would ultimately call Lebanon his home for the rest of his life.  Wanting to follow in his father's footsteps, he studied for the ministry but also earned a law degree from Harvard, the college where both his father and grandfather had graduated, in 1751 at the age of 20.  William then returned home and began serving as the town clerk the following year, while also continuing his pastoral training under the instruction of his father.  Within three years, however, his plans were sidetracked with the start of the French and Indian War and his enlistment with the British colonial forces.  His uncle, Ephraim, served as a colonel of a Massachuset

Founding Fathers - George Walton

George Walton Born: ?? (Farmville, VA) Died: February 2, 1804 (Augusta, GA) As you can see from the information above, there is a bit of mystery about this week's subject - George Walton.  The details of his birth are unclear, with some believing he was born as early as 1740 or 1741 and others thinking date of 1749 or 1750 is more accurate.  If the latter time frame is to be believed, then George Walton may be the youngest man to sign the Declaration of Independence.  That would be the second superlative of his, since his name is also the very last alphabetically.  He was born somewhere near Farmville, Virginia, but the exact location is unknown and has been attributed to both Cumberland County to the north of town as well as Prince Edward County, which includes the center of town and those areas to the south.  While he was still very young George was orphaned upon the death of both parents, and he was taken in by an uncle to be raised in a household of 13 children.  This uncle was

Founding Fathers - John Hancock

John Hancock Born: January 23, 1737 (Braintree, MA) Died: October 8, 1793 (Boston, MA) For several weeks we've learned more about some of the signers who do not have a significant measure of modern notoriety.  Today, however, I want to study a man who seemingly everyone has heard of.  The name "John Hancock" has become synonymous with signatures in the United States, due to the bombastic style of his writing at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence, but his story his somewhat less known despite the several important roles he played.  Like Samuel Adams, whose life we explored at the beginning of our journey through the biographies of America's Founding Fathers, John Hancock was born in the city of Braintree, MA, although the exact address is now within the modern city of Quincy.  His parents were a minister named John and his previously-widowed wife Mary, but they did not guide his life nearly as much as his uncle and aunt, Thomas and Lydia Hancock, who took hi

Founding Fathers - William Hooper

William Hooper Born: June 28, 1742 (Boston, MA) Died: October 14, 1790 (Hillsborough, NC) Until now, all of the signers that we have studied could perhaps be considered lifetime locals - each was born in the state he would represent, and each would eventually die there as well.  This week we look at the first of our movers and shakers that was literally a mover - William Hooper.  Born in Boston, MA, William was the oldest of five children born to a Scottish minister and his wife, William and Mary.  The elder William initially immigrated to the Massachusetts colony as a member of the Congregationalist denomination, but eventually became an Episcopalian and therefore had to cross the Atlantic to study in London prior to his new ordination.  Such devotion to faith led the father to plan for his son to follow in his footsteps, and the younger William was educated at the Boston Latin School before moving on to Harvard.  Much to his parents' dismay, however, Hooper was more interested in

Founding Fathers - Caesar Rodney

Caesar Rodney Born: October 7, 1728 (Dover, DE) Died: June 26, 1784 (Dover, DE) Happy 2023, and welcome back to the Geographist blog!  To kick off the new year, I wanted to start with someone who may not be well-known but who is certainly an important figure in our nation's history: Caesar Rodney.  Born on an 800 acre farm to a successful family in Delaware, he was the oldest of two children and was named for his father.  At the age of 14 Caesar was sent to nearby Philadelphia to study before his father died two years later.  From that point on he was in charge of his family's estate, although he was for a time under the guardianship of Nicholas Ridgely, who was serving Delaware as a Supreme Court Justice.  As he entered adulthood he embodied several contrasts.  His studies had been interrupted and he was not considered one of the intellectual scholars that typically engaged in politics, but he was nevertheless widely regarded as possessing significant wit, humor, and political