Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Learn about the Presbyterian Background to July 4, 1776

John Witherspoon, Scottish Presbyterian minister, president of Princeton, the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence and to serve in the Continental Congress, is truly a "forgotten founder." Take some time today and learn about him.

"Witherspoon, John (1723-1794), was the sixth president of Princeton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and from 1776 to 1782 a leading member of the Continental Congress. He came from Scotland in 1768 to assume the presidency of the college and held office until his death a quarter of a century later.

"A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, who received an honorary doctorate from St. Andrews in 1764, Witherspoon had become widely known as a leader of the evangelical or 'Popular Party' in the established Church of Scotland, of which he was an ordained minister. The trustees of the College first elected him president in 1766, after Samuel Finley's death; but Mrs. Witherspoon was reluctant to leave Scotland, and he declined. Thanks very largely to the efforts of Benjamin Rush 1760, then a medical student at Edinburgh, she was persuaded to reconsider. Informed that Witherspoon would now accept the call if renewed, the trustees again elected him to the presidency in December of 1767.

Read more about Witherspoon here. And here. And here. And here (you'll have to register to read the whole article). Read and Witherspoon, Princeton and the American Revolution here.

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