Revolutionary Biographies

GENERALS, FEDERALISTS, PRESIDENTS,
AND MAJOR PERSONALITIES

Abigail Smith Adams 1744-1818

Abigail Adams was born November 11, 1744 in Weymouth, to Elizabeth Quincy Smith and Reverend William Smith, pastor of Weymouth’s First Church. Like most girls of her time, she did not receive a formal education, but took advantage of her father’s library and studied the Bible, history, philosophy, essays and poetry. Abigail’s mother and grandmother Quincy…

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Benedict Arnold 1741-1801

Early Life Benedict Arnold was born on January 14, 1741 in Norwich, Connecticut. Arnold was one of a number of Benedict Arnolds including an early governor of Rhode Island and his father. Arnold’s mother was Hannah Waterman King, a wealthy widow, before her marriage to the elder Arnold. The family fortunes were well for a…

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Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790

Early Life Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 17 January 1706, the 15th of 17 children. His dad was an English tallow chandler and soap boiler who had emigrated 20 years earlier. Franklin was sent to Boston’s Latin school when he was 8, with a view to being trained for a theological career,…

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Brigadier General Henry Knox

“…Our political machine, composed of thirteen independent sovereignties, have been perpetually operating against each other and against the federal head ever since the peace. The powers of Congress are totally inadequate to preserve the balance between the respective States, and oblige them to do those things which are essential for their own welfare or for…

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Captain John Paul Jones

Early Life John Paul (afterwards known as John Paul Jones) was born at Arbigland, in the Parish of Kirkbean, and in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, Scotland, on 6 July 1747. Born John Paul, his father of the same name was a gardener; his mother’s name was Jean MacDuff, the daughter of a small farmer in…

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Dr. Benjamin Rush

Early Life Benjamin Rush was born on the 24th of December, 1745, 0. S. in the township of Byberry, twelve or fourteen miles northeast of Philadelphia. His ancestors emigrated front England to Pennsylvania, about the year 1683. The father of young Rush died when he was six years of age. The care of his education…

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Dr. Joseph Warren

Early Life Joseph Warren, the father, was a thrifty farmer, much respected by his townsmen, by whom he was elected to several offices of trust, He was interested in fruit-raising, and introduced into that part of the country the apple long known as the “Warren russet.” In October, 1755, while gathering fruit in his orchard,…

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Ethan Allen 1738-1789

Overview Ethan Allen was born in 1738 in Litchfield, Connecticut, the eldest of the eight children of Joseph and Mary Allen. He had five brothers (Heman, Heber, Levi, Zimri, and Ira) and two sisters (Lydia and Lucy) all of whom lived to adulthood, unusual in those days. Of these siblings, his youngest brother Ira is…

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Francis Lightfoot Lee

Early Life Francis Lightfoot Lee, the fourth son of Thomas Lee, was born on the fourteenth day of October, 1734. His father for several years held the office of president of the king’s council of the provincial government of Virginia. He had several sons, all of whom were highly distinguished for their talents, and for…

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General George Washington

Early Life and Career Born in Westmoreland County, Va., on Feb. 22, 1732, George Washington was the eldest son of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington, who were prosperous Virginia gentry of English descent. George spent his early years on the family estate on Pope’s Creek along the Potomac River. His early…

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James Madison

Early Life James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, was born at Port Conway, in King George county, Virginia, on the 16th of March 1751. His first ancestor in America may possibly have been Captain Isaac Maddyson, a colonist of 1623 mentioned by John Smith as an excellent Indian fighter. His father, also…

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James Monroe

Overview James Monroe, (1758-1831), 5th President of the United States. Monroe’s public career was shaped by three great influences: the American Revolution; the principles of the Republican party, which he helped found; and his diplomatic experiences. He worked to achieve the revolutionary ideal of a representative government based on free institutions, first through the battle…

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James Wilson

Early Life James Wilson was born September 14, 1742 near St. Andrews, Scotland. He was educated at the universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, initially studying to become a Presbyterian minister. However, in his last year of divinity school, Wilson’s father died and young Wilson soon rejected the seminary and went to Edinburgh to…

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John Adams 1735-1826

John Adams, Jr., the eldest of three sons, was born on October 30, 1735 (October 19, 1735 Old Style, Julian calendar), in what is now Quincy, Massachusetts (then called the “north precinct” of Braintree, Massachusetts), to John Adams, Sr., and Susanna Boylston Adams. The location of Adams’s birth is now part of Adams National Historical…

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John Askin 1739-1815

John Askin was born in Aughnaclay, County Tyrone, to James Askin and Alice Rae in 1739. John came to Albany, New York as a sulter with the British Army in 1758, and entered the western fur trade after the British gained control of New France. In 1764, he went to Michilimackinac, Michigan, to open a…

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John Dickinson 1732-1808

Early Life The leading opponent of John Adams in the debate upon the Declaration of Independence was John Dickinson, of Delaware–an honest, able, patriotic, but timid statesman. He was born in Maryland, in December, 1732, and educated in Delaware, to which province his parents removed soon after his birth. He read law in Philadelphia, and…

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John Hancock 1737-1793

Overview A signature to the declaration of independence, without reference to general views, was, to each individual, a personal consideration of the most momentous import. It would be regarded in England as treason, and expose any man to the halter or the block. The only signature, which exhibits indications of a trembling hand, is that…

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John Howe

Howe was born in 1754, the same year that the French and Indian War or Seven Years’ War (1754–1763) began.

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John Jay

“Let it be remembered that civil liberty consists, not in a right to every man to do just what he pleases, but it consists in an equal right to all citizens to have, enjoy, and do, in peace, security and without molestation, whatever the equal and constitutional laws of the country admit to be consistent…

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John Quincy Adams 1767-1848

John Quincy Adams, (1767-1848), 6th President of the United States. He was the son of John Adams, 2nd president. Independence and Union were the watchwords of his career; a Union of the United States of North America to grow by the destiny of Providence and nature to become a continental republic of free men stretching…

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Joseph Brant 1743-1807

Early years Brant was born in 1743, probably in March, probably in the Ohio Country somewhere along the Cuyahoga River. This was during the hunting season when Mohawks traveled to the area. He was named Thayendanegea, which can mean two wagers (sticks) bound together for strength, or possibly “he who places two bets.” He was…

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Joseph Galloway 1731-1803

Joseph Galloway was born near West River, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and moved with his father to Pennsylvania in 1749, where he received a liberal schooling. He studied law, was admitted to the bar and began practice in Philadelphia. Galloway was a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly from 1756 to 1774 and served as Speaker…

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King George William Frederick 1738-1820

Early Life George was born in London at Norfolk House. He was the grandson of King George II, and the son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. As Prince George was born two months premature and was thought unlikely to survive, he was baptised the same day by Thomas Secker, who was…

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Major General Nathanael Greene 1742-1786

Early Years Nathanael Greene was born on 27 July 1742 (Old Style) in Potowomut, Rhode Island.  The Gregorian Calendar, which is used today, was not adopted in England or her colonies until 1752.   Prior to that year, March was considered the first month of the year in civil matters as opposed to January.   According to…

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Margaret Catharine Moore

Margaret Catherine “Kate” Moore was born in 1752 in Anson South Carolina to Charles and Mary Moore.  In 1767 at the age of fifteen she married Andrew Barry. The two settled in Spartanburg County across the Tyger River, about two miles from Walnut Grove. Kate Barry was an excellent horsewoman, and she was very familiar with…

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Mary Draper

When the news reached Connecticut that blood had been shed, Putnam, who was at work in the field, left his plow in the furrow, and started for Cambridge without delaying to change his apparel. Stark was sawing pine logs without a coat; he shut down the gate of his mill, and commenced the journey to…

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Myles Cooper 1735-1785

Early life Cooper was educated at Queen’s College, Oxford where he later served as chaplain. Ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church in 1761, he attracted the influence of several high clergymen, including Thomas Secker, Archbishop of Canterbury, who recommended him for service in the American colonies. Cooper was thereby sent to New York…

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Patrick Henry 1736-1799

Early years Henry was born in Studley, Hanover County, Virginia on May 29, 1736. His father was John Henry, an immigrant from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, who had attended King’s College, Aberdeen before immigrating to the Colony of Virginia in the 1720s. Settling in Hanover County, about 1732 John Henry married Sarah Winston Syme, a wealthy widow…

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Paul Revere

Early Life An obituary in the Boston Intelligence commented, “seldom has the tomb closed upon a life so honorable and useful”.  This seems an accurate representation of the life of one of the more modest and trustworthy men who ever walked the face of the earth. Born in Boston’s North End in December, 1734, Paul…

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Phillis Wheatley

In 1761 Phillis was purchased as a personal slave in Boston by Susannah Wheatley, wife of tailor John Wheatley. She was evidently around 7 years old at the time. Her only written memory of her birthplace was of her mother performing a ritual of pouring water before the sun as it rose; biographers conjecture she…

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Richard Henry Lee

Early Life Richard Henry Lee, a descendant from an ancient and distinguished family in Virginia, was born in Westmoreland county, of that province, on the twentieth of January, 1732. As the schools of the country for many years furnished but few advantages for an education, those who were able to meet the expense, were accustomed…

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Samuel Adams 1722-1803

Overview Among those who signed the Declaration of Independence, and were conspicuous in the revolution, there existed, of course, a great diversity of intellectual endowments; nor did all render to their country, in those perilous days, the same important services. Like the luminaries of heavens each contributed his portion of influence; but, like them, they…

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Simon Girty 1741-1818

Simon Girty (1741 – February 18, 1818) was an American colonial of Scots-Irish ancestry who served as a liaison between the British and their Native American allies during the American Revolution. He was portrayed as a villain in many early history texts of the United States. Born in Pennsylvania, Girty and his brothers were taken prisoners…

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Thomas Burnfoot Brown 1750-1825

America Born in Whitby, Yorkshire, England, Brown was of a prosperous family, his father Jonas owning a successful shipping company. In 1774 Thomas recruited colonists from Whitby and the Orkney Islands, and emigrated with them to the Province of Georgia. He established the community of Brownsborough northeast of present day Augusta and anticipated a life…

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Thomas Hutchinson

Hutchinson was born in Boston. He showed remarkable aptitude for business early on, and by the time he was 24 had accumulated considerable property in trading ventures on his own account.

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Thomas Jefferson

Overview Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3d PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. As the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, he is probably the most conspicuous champion of political and spiritual freedom in his country’s history. He voiced the aspirations of the new nation in matchless phrase, and one may…

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Thomas Paine

Early Life The radical propagandist and voice of the common man, Thomas Paine, was born in Thetford in Norfolk on January 29, 1737. His father, Joseph, was a poor Quaker corset maker who tried to provide his son with an education at the local grammar school but eventually was forced to apprentice him to his…

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William Allen 1704-1780

Life and career Born in Philadelphia in 1704, Allen was the son of William Allen, sr., a successful Philadelphia merchant of Scotch-Irish descent who had immigrated to America from Dungannon, County Tyrone, Ireland with his brother John and father. The elder Allen had risen to prominence through close ties to William Penn, proprietor of Pennsylvania….

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William Augustus Bowles 1763-1805

William Augustus Bowles (1763–1805), also known as Estajoca, was a Maryland-born English adventurer and organizer of Native American attempts to create their own state outside of Euro-American control. Some sources give his date of birth as 1764.[1] Bowles was born in Frederick County, Maryland. He joined the British Army at the age of 13, and served…

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William Franklin 1731-1813

Early life He was born in Philadelphia, the illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin. His mother’s identity is unknown though evidence suggests she was a “Low Woman”. He was raised by his father and his common-law wife Deborah Read. There is some speculation William’s mother may have been Deborah Read, and that because of his parents’…

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William Prescott

Overview William Prescott, soldier, born in Groton, Massachusetts, 20 February, 1726  died in Pepperell, Massachusetts, 13 October, 1795. His father, Judge Benjamin Prescott, was the grandson of John, of Lincolnshire, England, an early settler of Lancaster, Massachusetts The son inherited a large estate and resided at Pepperell. In 1755 he served successively as lieutenant and…

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