MAY 19TH, 1795


May 19, 1795: New Hampshire Patriot Josiah Bartlett dies

On This Day...

May 19, 1795, New Hampshire Patriot Josiah Bartlett dies. In 1795, Josiah Bartlett, a New Hampshire Patriot and signatory of the Declaration of Independence who also served as the state's governor and Supreme Court chief justice, dies.

The historical Josiah Bartlett began life in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in 1729 and his career as a physician in Kingston, New Hampshire, in 1750. Four years later, Bartlett married his cousin, Mary, who already shared his surname; together they had 11 children. All of the couple's surviving sons and grandsons became physicians like Josiah.

By 1765, Bartlett had become active in colonial politics, serving in the New Hampshire legislature from 1765 to1775, when he became a member of the soon-to-be revolutionary Continental Congress. In 1776, Bartlett signed the Declaration of Independence immediately after John Hancock placed his famously large letters on the document. Bartlett took part in all the critical stages of creating the new government of the United States, signing the Articles of Confederation and serving in the Philadelphia Convention to draft the federal Constitution.

In 1789, Bartlett both declined election as a member of the United States Senate and stepped down from his post as the chief justice of New Hampshire's Supreme Court. The following year he was elected president of the state of New Hampshire. A subsequent convention, of which he was a member, changed his title to governor; he continued to serve in that role until 1794.

A footnote about Dr. Bartlett: Since voting for the Declaration of Independence was done geographically beginning with the northernmost colonies, Dr. Bartlett from New Hampshire was the first to vote "Yea" for Independence. His personal sword is in Louisville in the museum just down the street from the new SAR building. Finally, sources indicate he was a very frugal personality! His home in Kingston is still in the family. It is his second home on that spot. The first was burned by people unhappy with his political views. Yes, Tories were active in New Hampshire!




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Max Strozier


Web Page Created:

24 May 2008


Web Page Updated:

21 May 2011