William Whipple

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For the United States Army general, see William Whipple Jr..
William Whipple
William Whipple by Walter Gilman Page, 1897.jpg
Portrait by Walter Gilman Page
Born (1730-01-14)January 14, 1730
Kittery, Maine
Died November 28, 1785(1785-11-28) (aged 55)
New Hampshire
Occupation Judge, General (Continental Army), Politician
Known for Signer of the United States Declaration of Independence
William Whipple signature.png
The Moffatt-Ladd House, home of William Whipple, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

William Whipple, Jr. (January 25, 1731 NS (January 14, 1730 OS – November 28, 1785) was a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Hampshire. Whipple was a member of the Continental congress from 1776 through 1779.[1] Before becoming a politician, Whipple worked as both a ship's captain and a merchant. He was a prominent and wealthy member of society until he became a member of the new Hampshire Provincial congress. Whipple died of heart complications in 1785, aged 55.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Whipple was born in Kittery in southern Maine, and educated at a common school studying how to be a merchant, judge, and a soldier until he went off to sea. He became a Ship's Master at the age of 21.[3][4] He married his first cousin Catherine Moffat in 1767.[5] Whipple and his wife moved into the now historic Moffatt-Ladd House on Market Street in Portsmouth in 1769.[6][7]

Masonic Affiliation[edit]

Whipple was an active member of the Freemasons. Whipple was a member of the St. John's Masonic Lodge while he was an active mason. He was one of nine signatories of the Declaration of Independence who were masons.[8][9]

The triangle trade from New England

Time as a Sailor and Merchant[edit]

Whipple earned his fortune participating in the Triangle trade of the West Indies and Africa.[10] Whipple became an established and affluent captain, with cargo such as wood, rum, and on at least one occasion, slaves.[11][12] His trading activities may have been primarily confined to the West Indies.[13] In 1759 he landed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and in partnership with his brother established himself as a merchant.

Political career[edit]

In 1775, he was elected to represent his town at the Provincial Congress that met in Exeter, New Hampshire.[14] In 1776 New Hampshire dissolved the Royal government and reorganized with a House of Representatives and an Executive Council. Whipple became a Council member, and a member of the Committee of Safety, and was elected to the Continental Congress, serving through 1779. Whipple signed the Declaration of Independence while representing New Hampshire at the Continental Congress. Whipple was also the second cousin of fellow signatory, Stephen Hopkins.

Views of Equality[edit]

Whipple was known for his beliefs that all men were created equal, and is quoted as writing "A recommendation is gone thither for raising some regiments of Blacks. This, I suppose will lay a foundation for the emancipation of those wretches in that country. I hope it will be the means of dispensing the blessings of Freedom to all the human race in America.".[15]

In November of 1779, Prince Whipple and Windsor Moffatt (John Moffatt's slave) joined eighteen other men who described themselves as "native of Africa, now forcibly detained in slavery" to petition the legislature of the state of New Hampshire for their freedom. This petition reveals that one or more of the petitioners was not only literate, but well-versed in Revolutionary theory and language. It is possible that this petitioner may have been Prince Whipple, who accompanied William to Philadelphia and undoubtedly overheard much of the rhetoric of the Continental Congress. However, the New Hampshire legislature denied the petition and the men were not given their freedom.

Prince married Dinah Chase, a free woman in 1781, and in late February 1784, William Whipple signed his official manumission papers, allowing Prince to be a free man.[16]

After the Revolution[edit]

After the war Whipple became an Associate Justice of the Superior Court of New Hampshire. He suffered from a heart ailment, and died after fainting from atop his horse while traveling his court circuit. He was buried in the Old North Burial Ground in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In 1976, in conjunction with the American Bicentennial, his headstone was replaced with a new memorial by a local historical association.

The Surrender of General Burgoyne by John Trumbull

Surrender of General Burgoyne[edit]

Painted by John Trumbull in 1821, The Surrender of General Burgoyne is an oil painting depicting many of the major officers in the Saratoga Campaign.[17] Brigadier general Whipple is depicted fifth from the right, standing beside fellow brigadier general, John Glover.[18]


  1. ^ http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/whipple.htm
  2. ^ http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/whipple.htm
  3. ^ http://www.dsdi1776.com/signers-by-state/william-whipple/
  4. ^ http://www.whipple.org/william/thiswasaman.html
  5. ^ http://www.dsdi1776.com/signers-by-state/william-whipple/
  6. ^ "Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden". 
  7. ^ http://www.dsdi1776.com/signers-by-state/william-whipple/
  8. ^ http://salinasmasonictemple.weebly.com/famous-masons.html
  9. ^ http://foundingfathersblackhills.com/first-president-first-mason/
  10. ^ http://www.dsdi1776.com/signers-by-state/william-whipple/
  11. ^ http://www.seacoastnh.com/framers/whipple.html
  12. ^ http://www.whipple.org/william/declaration.html/
  13. ^ http://www.dsdi1776.com/signers-by-state/william-whipple/
  14. ^ http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/declaration/bio51.htm
  15. ^ http://www.whipple.org/william/thiswasaman.html
  16. ^ http://www.moffattladd.org/historypeople/thewhipples.html
  17. ^ http://www.aoc.gov/capitol-hill/historic-rotunda-paintings/surrender-general-burgoyne
  18. ^ Surrender of General Burgoyne

External links[edit]