Showing posts from January, 2024

Founding Fathers - Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams Born: September 27, 1722 (Boston, Massachusetts) Died: October 2, 1803 (Cambridge, Massachusetts) When I considered who deserved to be the final entry in our study of America's Founding Fathers, it only seemed appropriate that this week's focus was the logical choice.  As perhaps the person more singularly identified with the movement for independence, Samuel Adams embodied the passion of the patriot cause.  As the eldest son of 12 children born to Samuel and Mary Adams, both of whom came from families involved in the shipping industry, the younger Samuel was raised with the ideals of Puritan virtue and self-government.  The elder Adams had become a successful brewer and served as deacon of the nearby Third Church (the congregation occupied what is now known as the Old South Meeting House , a building that was then the largest in Boston) who kept active in local politics as part of an informal group known as the Boston Caucus.  When young Samuel completed his educa

Founding Fathers - Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Rush Born: January 4, 1746 (Byberry, Pennsylvania) Died: April 19, 1813 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) For our penultimate signer of the Declaration of Independence, this week we turn our attention to another Benjamin.  Not Harrison, who was last week, or Franklin, although both called Philadelphia home, but a doctor who would have a lasting impact on much more than liberty and government.  Benjamin Rush was born in the small township of Byberry, just outside of Philadelphia, as the fourth of seven children of John and Susanna Rush.  John was a farmer and gunsmith who tragically lost his life at the young age of 39 during the summer of 1751, and to provide for her family the widowed Susanna operated a grocery store.  Fortunately for everyone, the venture became quite successful to the point that she was able to expand her business to a second location that sold chinaware.  Young Benjamin and his older brother, Jacob, were sent away two years later to live with an uncle named Sam

Founding Fathers - Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison Born: April 5, 1726 (Berkeley, Virginia) Died: April 24, 1791 (Berkeley, Virginia) Born into two of the most powerful and influential families in the colonies, the focus of this week's study was known as a large figure, both in personality and physique, whose love of storytelling and good food disguised the many challenges he overcame.  Known by some as Benjamin Harrison V, he was the third child of ten born to his parents, Benjamin and Anne, but as the first son the family name that had been carried for four previous generations fell to him.  His father was a wealthy planter and had built the family's Berkeley Plantation home on 1,000 acres of land overlooking the James River.  His mother was the daughter of Robert "King" Carter, the wealthiest man in Virginia who held a number of important government positions, including acting governor for a time.  Each of the men in young Benjamin's family who bore his name had been active in government, mean

Founding Fathers - John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon Born: February 15, 1723 (Yester, East Lothian, Scotland) Died: November 15, 1794 (Princeton, New Jersey) No other Founding Father that we have studied can boast a similar resume to this week's subject, but if you were to select the kind of person to give your cause credibility you certainly could do much worse than John Witherspoon.  As the oldest son of Reverend James Witherspoon and his wife, Anne, young John received the best education available to a young Scottish man at the time and was an impressive student.  After his mother taught him to read at four years of age, he began to follow in his father's footsteps by studying and memorizing the Bible.  Once he had learned his basics at the local preparatory school in Haddington, John was sent to Edinburgh and enrolled in university courses by the time he was 13.  In three years he had completed a four-year program, published his thesis, and was awarded a Master of Arts shortly after his sixteenth birthday.  W