Delegates of New England States

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The New England States consisted of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. They had strong Puritan (Congregationalist) roots often typified in public days of fasting and prayer. The following proclamation was issued by John Langdon, governor of New Hampshire, in 1786: “Vain is the acknowledgment of a Supreme Ruler of the Universe, unless such acknowledgments influence our practice, and call forth those expressions of homage and adoration that are due to his character and providential government... It having been the laudable practice of this State... to set apart a day... \[to\] penitently confess their manifold sins and transgressions, and fervently implore the divine benediction... that we may all be disposed to lead quiet and peaceable lives, in all godliness and honesty... and above all, that he would rain down righteousness upon the earth, revive religion, and spread abroad the knowledge of the true GOD, the Saviour of man, throughout the world."

The delegates of Massachusetts who signed the Declaration of Independence were Elbridge Gerry (Episcopalian), Robert Treat Paine (Congregationalist), John Adams (Congregationalist), Samuel Adams (Congregationalist), and John Hancock (Congregationalist). Elbridge Gerry, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock also signed the Articles of Confederation, as did Francis Dana, James Lovell, and Samuel Holten. Rufus King (Episcopalian), and Nathaniel Gorham (Congregationalist) signed the US Constitution. /n After graduating from Harvard, Robert Treat Paine took a voyage to Europe. Upon returning, he studied theology and confirmed his belief in the truth of Christianity. In 1755, he served as chaplain to an expedition to the north, and afterwards preached a few times in several places.

John Hancock befriended righteous government (1774)
On the event of the Boston Massacre, John Hancock gave the following speech in Boston: “Some boast of being ‘friends to government’: I am a friend to ‘righteous’ government, to a government founded upon the principles of reason and justice. ...And let us play the man for our GOD, and for the cities of our GOD; while we are using the means in our power, let us humbly commit our righteous cause to the great LORD of the universe, who loveth righteousness and hateth inequity. -- And having secured the approbation of our hearts, by a faithful and unwearied discharge of our duty to our country, let us joyfully leave her important concerns in the hands of HIM who raiseth up and putteth down empires and kingdoms of the world as HE pleases; and with cheerful submission to HIS sovereign will, devoutly say, ‘Although the fig-tree shall not blossom... we will joy in the GOD of our salvation.’(Habakkuk 3:17-18)"

John Hancock asked his colony to repent and reform (1774)
As President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, John Hancock encouraged the people of his colony to repent: “We think it is encumbent upon this people to humble themselves before God on account of their sins, for He hath been pleased in His righteous judgment to suffer a great calamity to befall us, as the present controversy between Great Britain and the Colonies. \[And\] also implore the Divine Blessing upon us, that by the assistance of His grace, we may be enabled to reform whatever is amiss among us, so that God may be pleased to continue to us the blessings we enjoy, and remove the tokens of His displeasure, by causing harmony and union to be restored between Great Britain and these Colonies."

Elbridge Gerry refused to sign the Constitution
Elbridge Gerry refused to sign the Constitution and set forth his reasons in a letter addressed to his constituents, stating: “My principal objections to the plan are, that there is no adequate provision for a representation of the people; that they have no security for the right of election; that some of the powers of the legislature are ambiguous, and others indefinite and dangerous; that the executive is blended with, and will have an undue influence over, the legislature; that the judicial department will be oppressive; that treaties of the highest importance may be formed by the president, with the advice of two thirds of a quorum of the senate; and that the system is without the security of a bill of rights. These are objections which are not local, but apply equally to all the states."

Rufus King
James Marshall wrote the following about Rufus King in his 1856 history book: “On his withdrawal from the Senate, he accepted from President Adams the appointment of minister plenipotentiary at the court of London. During the voyage to England, his health was sensibly impaired. He remained abroad a twelvemonth, but his illness impeded the performance of his official duties, and proved fatal soon after his return home. He died like a Christian philosopher, April 29, 1827, in the seventy-third year of his age. In person, Mr. King was somewhat above the middle size, and well proportioned. His countenance was frank, manly, and beaming with intelligence. His orations and writings were remarkable for their condensation and force of style. His conversation was brilliant and varied. As a statesman, all parties agreed that he ranked among the first of his age."

Roger Sherman (Congregationalist) signed all three of America’s founding documents. William Williams (Congregationalist) only signed the Declaration of Independence. Titus Hosmer and Andrew Adams signed the Articles of Confederation. Samuel Huntington (Christian) and Oliver Wolcott (Christian) signed both early documents. William Samuel Johnson (Episcopalian) signed the US Constitution, but Oliver Ellsworth (Congregationalist) left the convention before signing it. \nRoger Sherman's support of a national Thanksgiving holiday was recorded in the Annals of Congress: “Mr. Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving, on any signal event, not only as a laudable one in itself, but as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ: for instance, the solemn thanksgivings and rejoicings which took place in the time of Solomon, after the building of the temple, was a case in point. This example, he thought, worthy of Christian imitation on the present occasion."

Oliver Wolcott
Oliver Wolcott was a member of the Continental Congress and fought during the War of Independence. He became Governor of Connecticut in 1796. B. J. Lossing’s 1848 book, "Signers of the Declaration of Independence," described Wolcott: "As a patriot and statesman, a christian and a man, Governor Wolcott presented a bright example; for inflexibility, virtue, piety and integrity, were his prominent characteristics."

Samuel Huntington
Samuel Huntington was a member of the Continental Congress, and its president from 1779-1781. B. J. Lossing wrote in 1848, "His integrity and patriotism were stern and unbending; and so conspicuous became his sound judgment and untiring industry, that in 1779 he was appointed President of Congress, then the highest office in the nation." He was governor of Connecticut from 1786-1796. Mr. Lossing wrote, “Governor Huntinton lived the life of the irreproachable and sincere Christian, and those who knew him most intimately, loved him the most affectionately. ...Hence as a devoted Christian and a true patriot, he never swerved from duty, or looked back after he placed his hand to the work."

Oliver Elsworth
Oliver Elsworth wrote, "The primary objects of government are the peace, order, and prosperity of society. To the promotion of these objects, good morals are essential. Institutions for the promotion of good morals are therefore objects of legislative provision and support; and among these, religious institutions are imminently useful and important."

William Samuel Johnson
William Samuel Johnson was president of Columbia University from 1787-1800. The following was his speech to the first graduating class after the Revolutionary War: "You this day, gentlemen, assume new characters, enter into new relations, and consequently incur new duties. You have, by the favor of Providence and the attention of friends, received a public education, the purpose whereof hath been to qualify you the better to serve your Creator and your country. ...Your first great duties...are those you owe to Heaven, to your Creator and Redeemer. Remember... that you are bought with a price... of the precious blood of the Son of God. ...Love, fear, and serve Him as your Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. ...Make Him your friend and protector and your felicity is secured both here and hereafter. And with respect to particular duties to Him, it is your happiness that you are well assured that he best serves his Maker, who does most good to his country and to mankind."

Roger Sherman’s Connecticut Compromise
A heated dispute erupted during the Constitutional Convention concerning State representation in Congress. After Ben Franklin's call for prayer, Roger Sherman suggested that state representation in the Senate be equal and that state representation in the House be based on population; this proposal came to be called the "Connecticut Compromise," and was adopted. He also served on a committee responsible for creating instructions for representatives headed for Canada, which stated: "You are further to declare that we hold sacred the rights of conscience, and may promise to the whole people, solemnly in our name, the free and undisturbed exercise of their religion. And...that all civil rights and the right to hold office were to be extended to persons of any Christian denomination."

Roger Sherman applied the Bible to American government
Congressman Roger Sherman objected to a War Committee report which would have allowed the army to give five hundred lashes to a delinquent soldier. He argued successfully from the twenty-fifth chapter of Deuteronomy, verse 3: "Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee."

The following delegates of New Hampshire signed the Declaration on Independence: Matthew Thornton (Christian), William Whipple (Congregationalist), and Josiah Bartlett (Congregationalist). Josiah Bartlett also signed the Articles of Confederation, as did John Wentworth, Jr.. John Langdon and Nicholas Gilman, both Congregationalists, signed the US Constitution.

Matthew Thornton
In his 1848 book, "Signers of the Declaration of Independence," B. J. Lossing wrote, "Dr. Thornton was greatly beloved by all who knew him, and to the close of his long life he was a consistent and zealous Christian. He always enjoyed remarkably good health, and, by practice of those hygeian virtues, temperance and cheerfulness, he attained a patriarchal age (89)."

John Langdon, president of the New Hampshire Bible Society
John Langdon supplied arms and money to the Continental Army, and also fought as a colonel in the militia. He considered laziness the same as infidelity, stating before Congress: “There was evidence in New Hampshire of an "infidel age" in which the indolent, extravagant and wicked may divide the blessings of life with the industrious, the prudent and the virtuous.” John Langdon was also the first president of the New Hampshire Bible Society, whose goal was to place a Bible into every home in New Hampshire.

John Langdon, governor of New Hampshire
As governor of New Hampshire, John Langdon made a Proclamation for a General Thanksgiving in 1785: "It therefore becomes our indispensable Duty, not only to acknowledge... our dependence on the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, but as a People peculiarly favoured, to testify our Gratitude to the Author of all our Mercies, in the most solemn and public manner. celebrate the Praises of our divine Benefactor; to acknowledge our own Unworthiness, confess our manifold Transgressions, implore his Forgiveness, and intreat the continuance of those Favours which he had been graciously pleaded to bestow upon us; that he would inspire our Rulers with Wisdom, prosper our Trade and Commerce, smile upon our Husbandry, bless our Seminaries of Learning, and spread the Gospel of his Grace over all the Earth. And all servile Labour is forbidden on said Day."

As delegates of Rhode Island, Elbridge Gerry (Episcopalian), Stephen Hopkins (Christian) and William Ellery (Congregationalist) signed the Declaration of Independence. William Ellery also signed the Aritlcles of Confederation, as did Henry Marchant and John Collins. As the smallest State, Rhode Island refused to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention, expecting only larger States would control its outcome. Rhode Island rejected the Constitution in 1788, and they were the last State to ratify it in 1790.

William Ellery
In his 1848 book, "Signers of the Declaration of Independence," B. J. Lossing wrote regarding William Ellery: "In connection with Rufus King, of New York, he made strong efforts in 1785, to have slavery in the United States abolished. After the new constitution was adopted in 1788, and the new government was put in operation, he was appointed collector for the port of Newport, which office he retained until his death, which occurred on the fifteenth of February, 1820, in the seventy-third year of his age. As a patriot and a Christian, his name will ever be revered."

Stephen Hopkins
In his 1848 book, "Signers of the Declaration of Independence," B. J. Lossing wrote regarding Stephen Hopkins: "The life of Mr. Hopkins exhibits a fine example of the rewards of honest, persevering industry. Although his early education was limited, yet he became a distinguished mathematician and filled almost every public station in the gift of the people, with singular ability. He was a sincere and consistent Christian, and the impress of his profession \[of faith\] was upon all his deeds."


Term Definition
approbation approval or commendation
benediction utterance of good wishes; a blessing pronounced at the end of divine services
Congregationalist a member of a Protestant self-governing church
Episcopalian a member of a Protestant church governed by bishops
felicity bliss or happiness
homage respect or reverence
hygeian healthy; referring to the ancient Greek goddess of health, Hygieia
indolent lazy and causing little or no pain
industry any general work
inflexibility resistant to bending (the rules)