Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More About the Reverend John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian Dissenter

The Reverend John Witherspoon was born in  Scotland on February 5, 1732.  He died in New Jersey, 1794.  Witherspoon was a member of the Continental Congress from New Jersey.  He was a Presbyterian minister and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

There is a statue of Witherspoon near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.  The sculpture is by William Couper of New York and was unveiled May 20, 1909.  A plaque at the base of the statue reads:

"For my part, of property I have some, of reputation more.  That reputation is staked, that property is pledged on the issue of this contest; and although these gray hairs must soon descend into the sepulcher, I would rather that they descend theither by the hand of the executioner than desert at this crisis the sacred cause of my country."

Hubert Howe Bancroft (1832-1918) was an American historian. He wrote:

"It was from John Witherspoon of New Jersey that Madison, bred in the school of Presbyterian Dissenters under Witherspoon, imbibed the lesson  of perfect freedom in matters of conscience.  When the Constitution of that State, New Jersey, was framed by a convention composed chiefly of Presbyterians, they established perfect liberty of conscience without the blemish of a test."

Wayne Rethford, President
Scottish American History Club
A division of the Illinois St. Andrew's Society

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