Author: David Ramsay


A well-respected historian, physician and legislator of his day, David Ramsay (1749–1815) was born in Pennsylvania, the son of an Irish immigrant. Ramsay was educated at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania, and began his medical practice in Charleston, South Carolina. He served in the South Carolina legislature during the American Revolution and volunteered as a field surgeon before being imprisoned by the British following their capture of Charleston in 1780. Ramsay is perhaps best known as one of the American Revolution’s foremost historians. He authored several volumes about the war and also a history of South Carolina. Married three times, Ramsay’s second wife, Frances Witherspoon, was the daughter of John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Oration on the Advantages of American Independence

David Ramsay

Even as the war was being waged and with the outcome uncertain, intellectuals and statesmen continued to make the case for the importance of American independence. On July 4, 1778, physician, historian, and South Carolina politician David Ramsay (1749–1815) delivered this speech, the nation’s first Fourth of July oration, in Charleston.