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Josiah Bartlett: A Founding Father and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


An image of founding father Josiah Bartlett
Josiah Bartlett

In the annals of American history, the name Josiah Bartlett may not be as instantly recognizable as some other Founding Fathers, but his contributions to the birth of the nation were significant and enduring. As a physician, statesman, and patriot, Josiah Bartlett played a pivotal role in the American Revolution and the formation of the United States. In this blog entry, we'll delve into the life and legacy of Josiah Bartlett, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.


Early Life and Medical Career


Josiah Bartlett was born on November 21, 1729, in Amesbury, Massachusetts, which was then part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was the fifth of eleven children in a family of modest means. Despite facing economic challenges, Bartlett was determined to pursue an education and a career in medicine.


After studying under a local physician, Bartlett gained admission to Harvard College, where he graduated in 1750. He continued his medical studies under Dr. Peter Thatcher in Kingston, New Hampshire, and soon established his medical practice in the town of Kingston.

Bartlett's medical skills and dedication to his patients quickly earned him a stellar reputation, and he became a respected figure in the community. He was not only a skilled physician but also an advocate for preventive medicine, often stressing the importance of sanitation and vaccination to improve public health.


A Commitment to Public Service


While Bartlett's medical practice was thriving, his sense of civic duty led him into the realm of politics. He began his political career as the town moderator of Kingston and later served as a justice of the peace. Bartlett's commitment to public service and his growing influence eventually propelled him into the colonial legislature.


By the early 1770s, tensions between the American colonies and Great Britain were escalating, and Bartlett's political involvement deepened. He attended the Provincial Congress of New Hampshire and served as a delegate to the Continental Congress, where he would make his mark as a signer of the Declaration of Independence.


Signer of the Declaration of Independence


On July 4, 1776, Josiah Bartlett, representing the state of New Hampshire, placed his signature on one of the most iconic documents in American history—the Declaration of Independence. His signature affirmed his commitment to the cause of American independence and his dedication to the principles of liberty and self-determination.


Bartlett's Legacy


Josiah Bartlett's contributions to the founding of the United States extended beyond his signature on the Declaration of Independence. He went on to become the first chief executive of New Hampshire, serving as the state's governor from 1790 to 1794. His leadership was marked by a commitment to religious freedom, individual rights, and a strong belief in democratic governance.

Josiah Bartlett passed away on May 19, 1795, leaving behind a legacy of public service, medical innovation, and dedication to the principles of liberty and independence. His name may not be as familiar as some of his contemporaries, but his contributions to the American Revolution and the founding of the nation are remembered and celebrated by those who appreciate the sacrifices and vision of the Founding Fathers.


Josiah Bartlett's life journey from a small-town physician to a signer of the Declaration of Independence exemplifies the spirit of the American Revolution. His dedication to public service, commitment to medicine, and unwavering support for independence make him a remarkable figure in American history. Josiah Bartlett's story reminds us that the Founding Fathers came from diverse backgrounds and made invaluable contributions to the nation's founding, each in their own unique way.


Submitted by Raymond E. Foster

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