John Dickinson

Colonialism in North America

Family History

  • Born in the colonymof Maryland November 13, 1732
  • Grew up on tobacco farm, his family was in the agriculture business.
  • Married Judith Troth; 9 children; 3 died from smallpox
  • He owned 5 farms operated on slave labor.
  • At age 18, he went to law school and studied under John Moland
  • Studied in london for 3 years
  • Lived in Philadelphia for most of his life.

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Political Affiliations

  • His actions show that he was trying to retain good relations with Britain but was unable to so he declined signing the Constitustion
  • William Killen was his tutor during law school and gave a great deal of influence towards his choices that happened in the future. Killen also became Delaware's first Chief Justice and Chief Chancellor
  • Dickinson was a part of the Continental Congresses but he remained loyal to the British in that he opposed violent forms of revolution and wanted to maintain good communication and social relationships with the British before he signed the Declaration of Independance
  • He was loyal to Britain and the colonies up until the colonies followed his views and ideas

Colonial Participation

  • He was at the first and second Continental Congresses
  • Thomas Jefferson and he wrote the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity Taking Up Arms
  • Olive Branch Petition was a last ditch effort to make peace because Dickinson really wanted reconciliation with Britain and thought that the dispute was merely with parliament
  • At the Second Continental Congress he voiced that they should finish the Articles of Confederation and secure an alliance with Britain before declaring independence. He said that violence was not the answer.
  • He was absent when the congress voted to declare independence and he voluntarily left after they declared independence and joined the Pennsylvania militia
  • Dickinson was offered a spot on the congress in 1777 but declined.
  • He was the only founding father who freed their slaves during the Revolutionary war (Quaker influence)
  • He prepared the first draft of the Articles of Confederation to follow through with his point that colonies need a governing document during the war that ensued the Declaration of Independence.


Definition: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness

John did not have integrity because he didn't follow through his actions or stand for his beliefs. John signed The Declaration of Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms which strongly stands up for independence. Ironically, John refused to sign the Declaration of Independence. Not only did these two contradicting events lose John’s integrity, but John’s lack of patriotism toward the colonies did as well. John was still devoted to the British Constitution which held him back from giving his beliefs and attention to the formation and independence of the colonies. John could not have had integrity for he was seen as a hypocrite.

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Definition: the state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties of a citizen

John did not have citizenship either for he wasn’t devoted to building America, he was devoted to regaining alliances with Britain. John mistreated the citizenship he had been given by refusing to fight for independence and other forms of reconciliation the colonies were founded for. He had many opportunities given to him as a citizen, as a leader to vote against Britain and vote for independence, yet he decided to stay aligned with the British and refused to fight for his freedom in America. Though John did partake in many actions of the common citizen, he did not partake in the duties of what it meant to be an American Citizen and fight for freedom.