William Whipple, Signer of the Declaration of Independence

William Whipple
William Whipple

William Whipple

Born: January 14, 1730, Kittery, Massachusetts Bay (now Maine), British America.

Died: November 28, 1785 (aged 55), New Hampshire, U.S.

Spouse: Catherine Moffat Whipple.

Number of Marriages: 1.

Number of Children: 0.

Allegiance: United States.

Service/branch: Continental Army/New Hampshire Militia.

Rank: Brigadier general.

Commands held: New Hampshire Militia (Bellow's Regiment of Militia, Chase's Regiment of Militia, Moore's Regiment of Militia, Welch's Regiment of Militia).

Wars: American Revolutionary War.



William Whipple was born at Kittery, in New Hampshire (that portion which is now the State of Maine) in the year 1730. His early education was received at a common school in his native town. When quite a lad, he went to sea, in which occupation he was engaged for Several years. At the age of twenty nine a he quitted the seafaring life, and, with his brother, Joseph Whipple, entered into mercantile pursues in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

He early espoused the cause of the colonies and soon became a leader among the opposition to British authority. In 1775 he was elected a member of the Provincial Congress of New Hampshire, and was chosen by that body, one of the Committee of Safety. When, in 1775, the people of that State organized a temporary government, Mr. Whipple was chosen a member of the Council. In January, 1776, he was chosen a delegate to the Continental Congress, and was among those who, on the fourth of July of that year, voted for the Declaration of Independence. He remained in Congress until 1777, when he retired from that body, having been appointed a Brigadier General of the New Hampshire Militia. He was very active in calling out and equipping troops for the campaign against Burgoyne. He commanded one brigade, and General Stark the other. He was under Gates at the capture of Burgoyne, and was one of the commissioners to arrange the terms of capitulation. He was afterward selected one of the officers to march the British prisoners to Cambridge, near Boston.

He joined Sullivan in his expedition against the British on Rhode Island in 1778, with a pretty large force of New Hampshire Militia. But the perverse conduct of the French Admiral D'Estaing, in not sustaining the siege of Newport, caused a failure of the expedition, and General Whipple, with his brigade, returned to New Hampshire.

In 1780, he was offered the situation of Commissioner of the Board of Admiralty, but declined it. In 1782, he was appointed by Robert Morris, financial agent in New Hampshire, but he resigned the trust in the course of a year. During that year, he was appointed one of the commissioners to settle the dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, concerning the Wyoming domain, and was appointed president of the Court. He was also appointed, during that year, a side judge of the Superior Court of New Hampshire.

Soon after his appointment, in attempting to sum up the arguments of counsel, and submit the case to the jury, he was attacked with a violent palpitation of the heart, which ever after troubled him. In 1785 he was seriously affected while holding court; and, retiring to his chamber, he never left it again while living. He expired on the twenty-eighth day of November, 1785, in the fiftyfifth year of his age. He requested a post mortem examination, which being done, it was found that a portion of his heart had become ossified, or bony. Thus terminated the valuable life of one who rose from the post of a cabin boy, to a rank among the first men of his country. His life and character present one of those bright examples of self-reliance which cannot be too often pressed upon the attention of the young ; and, although surrounding circumstances had much to do in the development of his talents, yet, after all, the great secret of his success was doubtless a hopeful reliance upon a conscious ability to perform any duty required of him. [Source: Biographical sketches of the signers of the Declaration of American independence, by Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891

[ Signers of the Declaration of Independence ]