Dickinson, John, 1732-1808

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Pennsylvania lawyer, Continental Congressman.

From the description of ALS : Philadelphia, to Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson, 1779 Sept. 18. (Rosenbach Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122442835

Dickinson asks Booth to help him replace omissions in his set of The Delaware law prior to the revolution.

From the description of ALS : Philadelphia, to James Booth, 1784 July 10. (Rosenbach Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122525016

Pennsylvania lawyer and Continental Congressman.

From the description of Promissory note : [s.d.]. (Rosenbach Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122442837

Signer of the Constitution, member of the Continental Congress.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Wilmington, 1803 Nov. 1. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270531336

From the description of Autograph letter signed : In Council, to Thomas Smith, Esq. Continental Loan Officer, 1785 Apr. 30. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270521184

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Wilmington, 1803 Nov. 8. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270531342

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Philadelphia, to Thomas Jefferson, 1784 Oct. 25. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270527079

Pennsylvania delegate to U.S. Continental Congress.

From the description of John Dickinson correspondence and order of payment, 1783-1787. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79423618

John Dickinson was an American lawyer and politican from Philadelphia, Pa. and Wilmington, Del. He was a member of the Continental Congress of 1787. A supporter of the U.S. Revolution, he is remembered for his book, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania. Dickinson was considered one of the wealthist men in the American Colonies. He was a Quaker and voluntarily freed all of his slaves in 1777.

Rittenhouse, an astronomer and mathematician born near Germantown, Pa., is well-known for his accurate orrery, a mechanical representation of the movement of the planets. During the U.S. Revolution he was an avid patriot. His last public service was as director of the U.S. mint from 1792-1795. Yeates, born in Philadelphia, was a Lancaster, Pa., lawyer and public official. He was a judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania from 1791-1817.

From the description of [Document and letter, 1785-1787] / John Dickinson. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 213330106

John Dickinson was born in Talbot County, Maryland on November 13, 1732 to Samuel Dickinson (1690-1760), whose father had emigrated from England in 1654, and his second wife, Mary Cadwalader Dickinson, who was the daughter of a Philadelphia Quaker merchant. John Dickinson had two brothers, Thomas, who died in infancy, and Philemon. The Dickinson family owned vast amounts of land throughout Maryland and Delaware, which is where the family relocated around 1740. John Dickinson was tutored at home in Kent County, Delaware by William Killen until the age of eighteen, at which time he moved to Philadelphia to read law for the former king's attorney, John Moland. From 1753 to 1756, Dickinson studied law at the Middle Temple in England, where he was admitted to the bar in 1757. Upon his return to the colonies that same year, he moved to Philadelphia to begin practicing law.

Dickinson was elected to the Delaware Assembly in 1759 and became speaker in 1760. In 1762, he was elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, where he served intermittently until 1776. As the relationship between the colonies and England became tense, the General Assembly chose Dickinson as their delegate at a meeting for the Stamp Act in New York in 1756. He joined John Morton and George Bryan in formulating a declaration of grievances. In 1767/1768, Dickinson published Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies . These letters, which were printed in newspapers throughout the colonies, argued that the Townshend Acts were in direct conflict with the ideals of British liberties. When the letters were published in pamphlet form around the colonies, as well as England, France, Holland, and Ireland, Dickinson became the best known advocate of American rights. In 1786, he also wrote "The Liberty Song," America's first patriotic song.

In 1770, John Dickinson married Mary (Polly) Norris (1740-1803), who was the daughter of Isaac Norris II (1701-1766) and Sarah Logan Norris (1715-1744). Isaac Norris was a prominent Quaker and speaker of the General Assembly, and his wife Sarah was the eldest daughter of William Penn's secretary, James Logan (1674-1751). John and Mary Dickinson had two daughters who lived past infancy, Maria (1783-1860) and Sally (1771-1855). Maria Dickinson married Albanus Logan (1783-1854), the son of George Logan and Deborah Norris Logan.

John Dickinson was busy in the years leading up to the American Revolution. He was a member of the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and the First and Second Continental Congresses from 1774 to 1776. He was occupied with publishing treatises on the American cause and penning resolutions and appeals to the King that he hoped would bring an end to the conflict. Because he believed that preparations for war must take place simultaneously with measures for peace, he raised the First Battalion of Associators in Philadelphia, of which he was colonel. Because separation from Britain appeared likely, he wrote the first draft of the Articles of Confederation. When independence was declared, he refused to vote on or sign the Declaration, because he still believed that reconciliation was possible. When the document received support from the majority of the delegates, Dickinson supported their decision by taking up arms and joining his battalion in New Jersey. Because of his dissent from the Declaration, he was not returned to the Pennsylvania Assembly. He resigned his commission in September and returned to the Assembly, where he led the resistance to the new Pennsylvania constitution. In November of 1776, he resigned his seat in protest of it. His next public office was in 1779 as a delegate from Delaware to the Confederation Congress, where he worked on peace negotiations.

In addition to being a colonel in the Pennsylvania militia, he also enlisted as a private in the Delaware militia, during which time he served at the Battle of Brandywine. He was given a commission as a brigadier general. Although he did not serve as an officer in the Continental Army, he nevertheless was made an honorary member of the Society of the Cincinnati.

Dickinson suffered many hardships during the Revolution. In addition to being harassed by the Pennsylvania revolutionary government and others who questioned his patriotism for not signing the Declaration of Independence, because the British perceived him as the leader of the resistance, Tories attacked his property in Delaware in 1777 and the British destroyed much of his estate in Philadelphia. These setbacks did not affect his political involvement. He served as president of both Delaware (1781-1782) and Pennsylvania (1782-1785), he was unanimously elected president of the Annapolis Convention in 1786 to amend the Articles of Confederation, and he took part in the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

John Dickinson returned to Delaware after the federal convention and in 1792 served as president of the Delaware constitutional convention. Into his later years, he continued to write on causes of concern to him, such as American relations with France and education. He lived the remainder of his life in Wilmington, where he died on February 14, 1808.

Dickinson was not formally affiliated with any religious group, but he identified most closely with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). He is buried in the Wilmington Friends burial ground next to his wife.

Biographical note written by Jane Calvert, author of Quaker Constitutionalism and the Political Thought of John Dickinson.

From the guide to the John Dickinson papers, Bulk, 1753-1808, 1676-1885, (Library Company of Philadelphia)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Read, George, 1733-1798. Read family papers, 1568-1906 (bulk 1775-1906). Library of Congress
creatorOf Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887,. Autographs collection, 1682-1972. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Powell, J. H. (John Harvey), 1914-1971,. Papers, [ca. 1950-1971], pertaining to John Dickinson. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. Letter, 1787 August 29, Paris, [France], to "the Editor of the Journal de Paris," n.p. William & Mary Libraries
referencedIn Autograph File, D, 1586-1975. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Autograph letter signed : Wilmington, 1803 Nov. 8. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Thomas Addis Emmet collection, 1483-1876, 1700-1800 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf John Dickinson papers, Bulk, 1753-1808, 1676-1885 Library Company of Philadelphia
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. John Dickinson correspondence and order of payment, 1783-1787. Library of Congress
creatorOf Adams, Abigail, 1744-1818. Warren-Adams papers, 1767-1822. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Ford, Paul Leicester, 1865-1902. Paul Leicester Ford letters received, 1890-1891. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Read family. Manuscripts, 1716-1872. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Smyth, Frederick, 1732-1815. Papers, 1756-1816. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Ford, Paul Leicester, 1865-1902. Papers, 1891-1893. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Peale, Charles Willson, 1741-1827. Letterbooks, 1767-1827. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn United States. Continental Congress. United States. Continental Congress records, 1765-1825 (bulk 1774-1790). Library of Congress
referencedIn Logan family papers, Bulk, 1670-1872, 1638-1964 Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. [Document and letter, 1785-1787] / John Dickinson. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Frederick Smyth papers, 1756-1816, 1756-1816 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Wilson, James, 1742-1798. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1784-1890. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn William Bradford, Jr. letter to John Dickinson, 1782 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Rodney, Caesar, 1728-1784. Caesar Rodney correspondence, 1749-1823. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Selected art related letters from Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Society Collection, 1760-1935. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Washington Irving's Life of George Washington, Volume 13, Miscellany, 1771-1832. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Dunaway, Wayland Fuller, 1875-1956. Wayland F. Dunaway historical research collection, 1765-1928. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Hall & Sellers shop book, 1767-1769, 1767-1769 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Logan, Maria Dickinson, 1857-1939,. Family papers, 1671-1890. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Document, signed, 1772 Apr. 18. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Gratz, Simon. Miscellaneous personal autographs, 1754-1824. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Autograph letter signed : Trenton, to General Hand, 1779 Feb. 18. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. AMsS, 1770 November 17, Philadelphia. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Benjamin Rush correspondence, 1759-1813, 1759-1813 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Letter from John Dickinson, Wilmington, Delaware, to Dr. Benjamin Rush : autograph manuscript signed, 1788 August 4. Wisconsin Historical Society Archives
referencedIn Ashmead, Jacob, Captain. Papers, 1698-1794. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Autograph letter signed : Wilmington, 1803 Nov. 1. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Rodney, C. A. (Caesar Augustus), 1772-1824. Rodney family papers, 1771-1824. Library of Congress
referencedIn Carson, Marian S.,. Marian S. Carson collection of manuscripts (continuation record), 1656-1995 (bulk 1700-1876) Library of Congress
referencedIn Chew, Benjamin, 1722-1810. Estate papers, 1776-1904. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Loudoun. Papers, 1696-1939 (inclusive), 1760-1895 (bulk). Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn St. Clair, Arthur, 1734-1818. Papers, 1777-1804, 1882. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Bradford, William, 1663-1752. Dorothy Merriman Schall papers, 1686-1897. Haverford College Library
creatorOf Griefen, Faith Adams, 1915-. Faith Adams Griefen Papers, 700-1988 (bulk 1800-1934). New England Historic Genealogical Society
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Papers, 1760-1772. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Saint Clair, Arthur, 1736-1818. Autograph letter signed : Philadelphia, to John Dickinson, 1784 July 28. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Logan, Robert Restalrig,. Collection, 1671-1863. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Nathanael Greene Papers, 1777-1780 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection, 1668-1983, Bulk, 1750-1850, 1668-1983 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Autograph letter signed : Philadelphia, to Thomas Jefferson, 1784 Oct. 25. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Coxe family. Papers, 1638-1897 (inclusive), 1776-1879 (bulk). Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Rush, Benjamin, 1745-1813. Correspondence, 1759-1813. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Howe, Robert, 1732-1786. Papers of Robert Howe, 1776-1783. Library of Congress
creatorOf Harmar, Josiah, 1753-1813. Josiah Harmar papers, 1681-1937. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
creatorOf Morris, Robert, 1734-1806. LS, 1782 April 5 : Philadelphia, Office of Finance, to the Governor of the State of Delaware [John Dickinson]. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Duane family. Papers, 1770-1933. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Parsons, Samuel, 1774-1841. Parrish Family Papers, 1780-1966. Swarthmore College, FRIENDS HIST LIBR
referencedIn South Carolina. General Assembly. Committee of Correspondence. Committee of Correspondence papers, 1765-1779. South Carolina Historical Society, SCHS
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Autograph note signed, 1766 Aug. 9. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Gratz, Simon. Alphabetical collection, 1677-1910. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Washington Irving's Life of George Washington, Volume III, Miscellany, 1756-1807. Cornell University Library
referencedIn St. Clair, Arthur, 1734-1818. Letter : to John Dickinson, [Philadelphia], 178[2?] Aug. 4. Texas Christian University
creatorOf Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813. Papers, 1766-1845. Duke University, Medical Center Library & Archives
referencedIn Logan, Deborah Norris, 1761-1839. Diaries, 1815-1839. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Logan family. Papers, 1664-1871. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Jared Sparks collection of documents concerning the American Revolution, 1740-1866 . Houghton Library.
referencedIn Thomson, Charles, 1729-1824. Papers of Charles Thomson, 1765-1888 (bulk 1765-1818). Library of Congress
referencedIn De Coppet, Andre, 1892-1953,. Considerations on the present claims of the Americans : manuscript, [1774]. Princeton University Library
referencedIn Bringhurst, James, d. 1810. Collection of Bringhurst Family Correspondence, 1780-1811. Swarthmore College, FRIENDS HIST LIBR
referencedIn Rush family papers, 1748-1876 Library Company of Philadelphia
referencedIn Dickinson, Samuel, d. 1760. Will, 1759 Dec. 11, Kent County, Del. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Rosenbach, A. S. W. (Abraham Simon Wolf), 1876-1952,. Signers of the Declaration of Independence autograph collection, 1756-1818. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Washington Irving's Life of George Washington, Volume III, Miscellany, 1756-1807. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Letter, 1775 April 4, Nail Hill, to Colonel Washington [n.p.]. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Provincial delegates letters, 1754-1829. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf John Dickinson papers, 1774-1788 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Affirmation of a decree of the Court of Admiralty of Pennsylvania : manuscript, 1785 Oct. 3. Texas Christian University
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Printed document signed : Philadelphia, 1784 Dec. 31. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Promissory note : [s.d.]. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Affirmation of a decree of the Court of Admiralty of Pennsylvania : manuscript, 1785 Oct. 3. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn United States Continental Congress Records, 1765-1825, (bulk 1774-1790) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Nicholson, John, 1757-1800. Papers, 1772-1819 [microform]. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Read family. Papers, 1568-1906 (bulk 1775-1906). Library of Congress
referencedIn Carson, Marian S.,. Marian S. Carson collection of manuscripts, 1656-1995 (bulk 1700-1876) Library of Congress
referencedIn Josiah Harmar papers, Harmar, Josiah papers, 1681-1937 William L. Clements Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Rodney, Thomas, 1744-1811. Papers, [ca. 1784-1810?]. Brown University, John Hay Library
creatorOf Read, George, 1733-1798. ALS, 1766 July 28, to John Dickinson, Philadelphia, Pa. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Bringhurst family. Bringhurst family papers, 1782-1913. Historical Society of Delaware
referencedIn Charles Willson Peale letterbooks, 1767-1827, 1767-1827 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Read Family Papers, 1568-1906, (bulk 1775-1906) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn John Vaughan papers, 1768 - Circa 1936, 1768 - Circa 1936 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Caesar Rodney correspondence, 1749-1823 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Autograph note signed, 1767 May 13. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Marshall, Humphry, 1722-1801. Humphry Marshall Papers, 1721-1863 (bulk: 1760-1800). University of Michigan, William Clements Library
referencedIn Booth, James, 1753-1828. James Booth papers, 1794-1820. Historical Society of Delaware
referencedIn Rodney Family Papers, 1771-1824 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Hall and Sellers. Shop book, 1767-1769. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. ALS : Philadelphia, to James Booth, 1784 July 10. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Charles Thomson Papers, 1765-1888, (bulk 1765-1818) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. ALS : Philadelphia, to Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson, 1779 Sept. 18. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Dickinson, John, 1732-1808. Autograph letter signed : In Council, to Thomas Smith, Esq. Continental Loan Officer, 1785 Apr. 30. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Marian S. Carson collection of manuscripts, 1656-1995, (bulk 1700-1876) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Papers, [ca. 1950-1971], pertaining to John Dickinson, Circa 1950-1971 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Richard Henry Lee Papers, 1763-1823 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn McLane, Allan, 1746-1829. Papers, 1775-1821. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Peale-Sellers Family Collection, 1686-1963, 1686-1963 American Philosophical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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Place Name Admin Code Country
Pennsylvania
Delaware
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Wilmington (Del.)
United States
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
Delaware
Subject
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
Delaware--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775
Land grants
Real property
Manuscripts, American
Statesmen--United States
Delaware--Politics and government--1775-1783
Quaker women
United States--Politics and government
Pennsylvania--Politics and government--1775-1783
United States--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775
Pennsylvania--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775
Occupation
Governors
Statesmen
Delegates, U.S. Continental Congress--Pennsylvania
Function

Person

Birth 1732-11-08

Death 1808-02-14

Americans

English

Information

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