A notable figure of the American founding, John Dickinson (1732–1808) grew up on a tobacco farm in Maryland and started studying law at the age of 18. Throughout his distinguished political career, Dickinson served in various capacities in both Pennsylvania and Delaware. He was a delegate for the state of Pennsylvania to the first and second Continental Congresses but declined to sign the Declaration of Independence, instead favoring reconciliation with Britain. He then served as a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania militia until his unpopular views on independence from the Crown prompted his resignation. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1779 and the Delaware Assembly in 1780. Dickinson then served as the Governor of Pennsylvania between 1782 and 1785. He was a delegate for the state of Delaware to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Dickinson is noted as the only Founding Father to have freed his slaves.
Author: John Dickinson
This pre-Revolutionary song, “The Liberty Song,” is set to the tune of “Heart of Oak,” the anthem of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. John Dickinson sent the words he composed for the song to his Massachusetts friend James Otis, saying, “I enclose you a song for American freedom.