Portrait by Walter Gilman Page
January 14, 1730|
|Died||November 28, 1785
|Occupation||Judge, General (Continental Army), Politician|
|Known for||Signer of the United States Declaration of Independence|
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. 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.
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. He married his first cousin Catherine Moffat in 1767. Whipple and his wife moved into the now historic Moffatt-Ladd House on Market Street in Portsmouth in 1769.
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.
Time as a Sailor and Merchant
Whipple earned his fortune participating in the Triangle trade of the West Indies and Africa. Whipple became an established and affluent captain, with cargo such as wood, rum, and on at least one occasion, slaves. His trading activities may have been primarily confined to the West Indies. In 1759 he landed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and in partnership with his brother established himself as a merchant.
In 1775, he was elected to represent his town at the Provincial Congress that met in Exeter, New Hampshire. 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
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.".
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.
After the Revolution
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.
Surrender of General Burgoyne
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. Brigadier general Whipple is depicted fifth from the right, standing beside fellow brigadier general, John Glover.
- State Builders: An Illustrated Historical and Biographical Record of the State of New Hampshire. State Builders Publishing Manchester, NH 1903
- Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. By Rev. Charles A. goodrich, published by William Reed & Co. New York 1829
- "Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden".
- Surrender of General Burgoyne
- Biography by Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, 1856
- Burial site of William Whipple
- Genealogical Reference
- William Whipple at Find a Grave
- Colonial Hall
-  William Whipple and the Declaration of Independence. Speech given by Comrade Joseph Foster, Paymaster US Navy, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, November 20, 1892