On This Day...
May 2, 1740, Elias Boudinot is born. In 1740, Patriot Elias Boudinot is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Boudinot would serve in numerous positions during the War for Independence, culminating in his role as president of the Continental Congress from 1782 to1783. As president, he signed the Treaty of Paris, ending hostilities with Great Britain.
Boudinot's great-grandfather was a Huguenot (French Protestant) refugee, who fled France for colonial New York in 1687, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had protected Protestants' right to worship in France, in 1685.
The Boudinot family enjoyed lofty connections among the American colonial elite. Elias' father, a silversmith, was Benjamin Franklin's neighbor and friend in Philadelphia. Elias studied law at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), where his brother-in-law and future signer of the Declaration of Independence, Richard Stockton, served as his mentor. Elias furthered ties between the two families by marrying Richard's sister, Hannah Stockton, in 1762. Elias' daughter, Susan Boudinot Bradford, married the future chief justice of Pennsylvania and President George Washington's attorney general, William Bradford. Elias' brother, Elisha, pursued a successful legal career, eventually becoming an associate justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey from 1798 to 1804.
Beginning in May 1775, Boudinot, a colonel, served the Continental Army as its commissary general for prisoners. This placed Boudinot in charge of the well-being of not only British and Loyalist soldiers in Patriot custody, but also Patriot soldiers in British custody. In November 1777, Boudinot was elected to the Continental Congress. The two posts conflicted and he was forced to delay serving in Congress until July 1778, when a replacement was able to assume his duties as commissary.
During Boudinot's term as president from November 1782 to November 1783, Congress was forced to flee Philadelphia. As a member of the Board of Trustees for the College of New Jersey, Boudinot arranged to have Congress temporarily meet in the school's Nassau Hall in Princeton.
After the War of Independence, Boudinot went on to represent New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives and served as director of the United States Mint under Presidents Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. Later, Boudinot advocated for the rights of African-Americans and Indians as president of the American Bible Society.
The Patriot Elias Boudinot was a philanthropist and very religious. He paid for the education of a young Cherokee man in New England and, out of respect, the young Cherokee adopted his name and became Elias Boudinot (1802-1839). His Cherokee name was Galagina Watie. The first name can be translated as "stag" or "buck" and he was called Buck. He was a prominent member of the Cherokee Nation. He and his brother, Stand Watie, and his uncle, Major Ridge, and his cousin, John Ridge, and several others saw the handwriting on the wall and signed the removal treaty of New Echota and left for the West before those who stubbornly resisted and were later forcibly removed on the Trail of Tears. Because of their assessment of their chances, including the defiance of the Supreme Court voiced by President Jackson, Elias Boudinot, Major Ridge, John Ridge and several others were assassinated in Indian Territory for selling Cherokee land. The killers missed Stand Watie. He eventually became a die hard leader of the Confederates in the Cherokee Nation and was the only Native American general in the WBTS. He was the last Confederate general to surrender. Elias Boudinot's son, another Elias, was the voting delegate of the Cherokee Nation in the Confederate Congress and practiced law for many years in Ft. Smith, AR. A nephew of the later, Frank J. Boudinot, was Principal Chief of the Cherokees, in around 1905, shortly before statehood in 1907. So the name of Boudinot is still a name to conjure with as an integral part of the history of Oklahoma. And it all goes back to the Patriot who believed in educating the Native Americans and spreading the gospel.