Signer of the Constitution
Even though John Dickinson served in the Congress that approved the Declaration, and Dickinson and James Wilson were both painted in Trumbull’s “The Declaration of Independence,” of the two, only Wilson signed the document. Dickinson refused to sign because he thought the act might be a bit hasty. Nevertheless, his contributions to the nation were significant. For example:
- In 1765, he was key in producing the “Declaration of Rights” in the Stamp Act Congress — the first Congress called by the colonies and the first time the colonies united their protests against Great Britain.
- In 1767-1768, he authored Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, which helped unite the colonies leading up to the Revolution.
- In 1775, he was the primary author of the Olive Branch Petition — a last attempt to reconcile differences with Great Britain.
- In 1776, he enlisted in the militia and became a brigadier general.
- In 1777, he helped draft the Articles of Confederation to govern the united colonies during the American Revolution.
- Because of his many writings, he is known as The Penman of the Revolution.
Dickinson originally represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress, and when he resigned his military position in Pennsylvania, he moved to Delaware, where he served that state in the Continental Congress. He also became President, or Governor, of Delaware and then held that same position in Pennsylvania. As President of Pennsylvania, he issued a proclamation asking the people to observe the Lord’s Day and remain steadfast in their worship of God.
After the Revolution, Dickinson became chairman of the Annapolis Convention, which was the precursor to the Constitutional Convention. When the Constitution was later written, he became a signer and then wrote letters under the pen name Fabius to advocate its passage. He died in Delaware in 1808, having been a significant influence on the formation of the United States and its government.