Bullet-Point Bio: Josiah Bartlett

Today is the start of our Bullet-Point Bios of the signers of the Declaration of Independence!

– He lived from November 21, 1729 – May 19, 1795.

– He was one of the delegates to the Continental Congress from New Hampshire and is believed to be the second delegate to sign the Declaration of Independence (which he did at age 46).

– He served on the committee that drafted the Articles of Confederation (he was the first to sign them!) and later attended the Constitutional Convention being a strong supporter for the adoption of our constitution.

– He founded and was the first president of the New Hampshire Medical Society.

– He was born the youngest of seven children in Amesbury, Massachusetts.

– His parents ran Lin’s Mouth farm and his father was a shoemaker.

– He learned Greek and Latin by the time he was 17.

– Although he apprenticed for several years leading up to this, by the time he was 21, he had founded his own medical practice.

– He became known for his skill of treating fevers with quinine.

– In 1754, Josiah married his cousin, Mary Bartlett.

– He and Mary had 12 children – eight of whom lived to adulthood.

– Three sons and eight grandsons went on to be doctors as well.

– Josiah was a dedicated patriot and became involved in the **Committee of Correspondence after its creation by New Hampshire’s House of Representatives in 1774.

**Note: the Committee of Correspondence “consisted of a group of leading patriots providing leadership and communication networks amongst the colonists at town and colony levels. Their objectives were to warn each other about British actions and future plans that were detrimental to colonial America and to plan colonial resistance and counter measures.”

– Josiah had become the colonel of his county’s militia and was appointed justice of the peace in 1767 by Governor John Wentworth. However, because of Josiah’s patriotic activity, the governor removed him from these roles shortly before the start of the American War For Independence.

– He was elected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress, but declined feeling it necessary to be with his family for the time (they had just lost their home to a fire – presumably set by the British because of their dislike for Josiah’s patriotic activity).

– In 1775, he was appointed colonel of a Continental militia regiment.

– During the American War for Independence, Josiah worked in Congress to build the American Navy and also treated wounded soldiers.

– He had several appointments over time including chief justice in the Court of Common Pleas (1779), muster-master of troops (1780), associate justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court (1782), and then chief justice (1788).

– In 1789, he declined election as a member of the United States Senate.

– He was elected president of New Hampshire in 1790. A subsequent convention changed the title of his position to “governor” and he continued to serve in that capacity until retiring in 1794 – the year before his death.

– The town of Bartlett, New Hampshire was named in honor of him.

– John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem in honor of Josiah Bartlett which I’ve posted below!

One of the Signers – by John Greenleaf Whittier

O storied vale of Merrimac

Rejoice through all thy shade and shine,

And from his century’s sleep call back

A brave and honored son of thine.

Unveil his effigy between

The living and the dead to-day;

The fathers of the Old Thirteen

Shall witness bear as spirits may.

Unseen, unheard, his gray compeers

The shades of Lee and Jefferson,

Wise Franklin reverend with his years

And Carroll, lord of Carrollton!

Be thine henceforth a pride of place

Beyond thy namesake’s over-sea,

Where scarce a stone is left to trace

The Holy House of Amesbury.

A prouder memory lingers round

The birthplace of thy true man here

Than that which haunts the refuge found

By Arthur’s mythic Guinevere.

The plain deal table where he sat

And signed a nation’s title-deed

Is dearer now to fame than that

Which bore the scroll of Runnymede.

Long as, on Freedom’s natal morn,

Shall ring the Independence bells,

Give to thy dwellers yet unborn

The lesson which his image tells.

For in that hour of Destiny,

Which tried the men of bravest stock,

He knew the end alone must be

A free land or a traitor’s block.

Among those picked and chosen men

Than his, who here first drew his breath,

No firmer fingers held the pen

Which wrote for liberty or death.

Not for their hearths and homes alone,

But for the world their work was done;

On all the winds their thought has flown

Through all the circuit of the sun.

We trace its flight by broken chains,

By songs of grateful Labor still;

To-day, in all her holy fanes,

It rings the bells of freed Brazil.

O hills that watched his boyhood’s home,

O earth and air that nursed him, give,

In this memorial semblance, room

To him who shall its bronze outlive!

And thou, O Land he loved, rejoice

That in the countless years to come,

Whenever Freedom needs a voice,

These sculptured lips shall not be dumb!


-Photo credit: Wikipedia public domain
– Wikipedia.org
– For You They Signed, 2009, Marilyn Boyer
– history.com
– poemhunter.com

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