Portrait by Walter Gilman Page
January 14, 1730|
Kittery, Maine, British America
November 28, 1785 (aged 55)|
New Hampshire, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|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)|
|Spouse(s)||Catherine Moffat Whipple|
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 and a member of the Continental Congress from 1776 through 1779. He worked as both a ship's captain and a merchant, and he studied in college to become a judge. He died of heart complications in 1785, aged 55.
Early life and education
Whipple was born in Kittery, Maine to Captain William Whipple Sr. and his wife Mary (née Cutt), and educated at a common school until he went off to sea, and he became a Ship's Master at age 21. He married his first cousin Catherine Moffat in 1767, and they moved into the Moffatt-Ladd House on Market Street in Portsmouth in 1769. Their son William Whipple III died in infancy. Whipple was a descendant of Samuel Appleton, early settler in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Whipple earned his fortune participating in the Triangle trade of the West Indies and Africa, with cargo such as wood, rum, and slaves. He established himself as a merchant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1759, in partnership with his brother.
In 1775, New Hampshire dissolved the British Royal government and organized a House of Representatives and an Executive Council known collectively as a Provincial Congress, and Whipple was elected to represent Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He became a member of the Committee of Safety. He was then elected to the Continental Congress, and he signed the United States Declaration of Independence. He was also the second cousin of fellow signatory Stephen Hopkins. In January 1776, Whipple wrote to fellow signatory Josiah Bartlett of the approaching convention:
This year, my Friend, is big with mighty events. Nothing less than the fate of America depends on the virtue of her sons, and if they do not have virtue enough to support the most Glorious Cause ever human beings were engaged in, they don’t deserve the blessings of freedom.
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.
Whipple was given his first commission by the New Hampshire Provincial Congress in 1777. At Saratoga, Whipple was placed in command of a brigade, consisting of four regiments of militia. Whipple commanded Bellow's regiment, Chase's regiment, Moore's regiment, and Welch's regiment. As a result of their meritorious conduct at the Battle of Saratoga, Whipple and Colonel James Wilkinson were then chosen by Major General Horatio Gates to determine terms of capitulation with two representatives of General John Burgoyne. Whipple then signed the Convention of Saratoga, the effective surrender of General Burgoyne and his troops. Whipple was then appointed along with several other officers to escort Burgoyne and his army back to Winter Hill, Somerville, Massachusetts. Whipple passed the news of the victory at Saratoga to Captain John Paul Jones, who informed Benjamin Franklin, who was in Paris at the time. News of the victory proved valuable to Franklin throughout alliance negotiations with the French. In 1778, Whipple followed his commanding officer, General John Sullivan to the Battle of Rhode Island, where he commanded Evans' regiment, Peabody's regiment, and Langdon's light horse regiment. After General Sullivan ordered retreat, Whipple and other officers resided in a house near the battlefield. The approaching enemy fired a field piece from a range of three-quarters of a mile. The shot first tore through a horse lashed outside the house before severely wounding the leg of one of Whipple's brigade majors, which later required amputation.
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. His headstone was replaced with a new memorial in 1976 in conjunction with the United States Bicentennial.
- "Signers of the Declaration of Independence: William Whipple".
- "General Whipple's Ancestors".
- DSDI staff (11 December 2011). "William Whipple". The Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
- Vaughan, Dorothy Mansfield. "This Was a Man".
- "The Whipples". Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
- Felt, Joseph B. History of Ipswich, Essex and Hamilton. Csambridge, 1834, pages 159-160, 169.
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- http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/declaration/bio51.html[dead link]
- http://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/declaration/bio51.html[dead link]
- Kieffer, Mike. "Founding Father Document - Biography for William Whipple".
- 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