-Our last delegate from Rhode Island.
-Lived from March 7th, 1707 – July 13th, 1785.
-Born in Cranston, Rhode Island.
-His great-grandfather, Thomas Hopkins, was an original settler of the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
-Hopkins grew up a Quaker.
-He educated himself. He was a voracious reader on a variety of subjects and it is said that he possessed a life-long love of learning.
-Hopkins earned his living as a farmer and surveyor and later became a merchant.
-He married Sarah Scott when he was 19 and they had seven children. Sarah passed away on September 9, 1753. Years later, Stephen married Anne Smith.
-Hopkins was a devoted patriot leader. He founded a patriot newspaper, The Providence Gazette, and wrote criticizing British taxation and supporting colonial rule.
-He was good friends with Benjamin Franklin, as they shared similar views early on desiring some plan for union of the colonies.
-When Rhode Island became the first of the 13 colonies to elect delegates to the First Continental Congress, Stephan Hopkins and Samuel Ward were chosen. As we learned in our last Bullet Point Bio, William Ellery replaced Samuel Ward after Ward’s death from smallpox.
-Hopkins was the second oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence at age 69.
-Hopkins had a stroke which affected the right side of his body. In For You They Signed, Marilyn Boyer writes:
“[at the signing] …with his left hand, he picked up his right hand and guided it in recording his signature. So all would know he was not shaking from fear, he said, ‘My hand trembles, but my heart does not.'”
-According to Dumas Malone in The Story of the Declaration of Independence:
“One of the other delegates to the [Continental Congress] described him as a venerable man ‘of an original understanding, extensive reading, and great integrity,’ who thoroughly believed in liberty, while fully recognizing its inevitable costliness.”
-He was a leading advocate for the abolition of slavery.
-He was instrumental in the founding of what is now Brown University.
His public service included (not necessarily in this order!):
-Serving as a delegate from Rhode Island to the Albany Convention at the start of the French and Indian War
-Serving on the Rhode Island Committee of Correspondence
-Helping prepare the Articles of Confederation
-Helping form the Continental Navy
-Serving as Town Clerk of Scituate, Rhode Island
-Serving as a member of the Rhode Island Colonial Legislature
-Serving as President of the Town Council of Scituate, Rhode Island
-Serving as justice of the peace and judge of the Court of Common Pleas
-Serving as Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas
-Serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Rhode Island State Legislature
-Helping found the public library in Providence, Rhode Island
-Serving as Governor of Rhode Island
-Serving as Chairman of the committee opposing the Stamp Act
-Serving as member of the Rhode Island Legislature
-Serving as Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Rhode Island
As you can see, he devoted his life to the welfare of his country!
-Photo credit: Wikipedia public domain
-For You They Signed, 2009, Marilyn Boyer
-Know Your Declaration of Independence and the 56 Signers, George E. Ross
-The Story of the Declaration of Independence, Dumas Malone