John Witherspoon

(John Knox Witherspoon)

John Witherspoon
John Witherspoon
  • Born: February 5, 1723
  • Died: November 15, 1794
  • Nationality: American, Scottish
  • Profession: Clergyman Theologian









John Knox Witherspoon was a Scottish-American Presbyterian minister and a Founding Father of the United States. Witherspoon embraced the concepts of Scottish common sense realism, and while president of the College of New Jersey (1768–1794; now Princeton University), became an influential figure in the development of the United States' national character. Politically active, Witherspoon was a delegate from New Jersey to the Second Continental Congress and a signatory to the July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence. He was the only active clergyman and the only college president to sign the Declaration. Later, he signed the Articles of Confederation and supported ratification of the Constitution. In 1789 he was convening moderator of the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

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For what would it signify to risk our possessions and shed our blood to set ourselves free from the encroachments and oppression of Great Britain—with a certainty as soon as peace was settled with them of a more lasting war, a more unnatural, more bloody, and much more hopeless war, among the colonies themselves? Some of us consider ourselves as acting for posterity at present, having little expectation of living to see all things fully settled and the good consequences of liberty taking effect. But how much more uncertain the hope of seeing the internal contests of the colonies settled upon a lasting and equitable footing? States. Nations & Nationhood
Human science and religion have kept company together and greatly assisted each other's progress in the world. I do not say that intellectual and moral qualities are in the same proportion in particular persons; but they have a great and friendly influence upon one another in societies and larger bodies. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
If the colonies are independent states, separate and disunited, after this war, we may be sure of coming off by the worse. We are in no condition to contend with several of them. Our trade in general, and our trade with them, must be upon such terms as they shall be pleased to prescribe. What will be the consequence of this? Will they not be ready to prefer putting themselves under the protection of Great Britain, France, or Holland, rather than submit to the tyranny of their neighbors, who were lately their equals? Nor would it be at all impossible that they should enter into such rash engagements as would prove their own destruction from a mixture of apprehended necessity and real resentment. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
No moderate man views it in any other light than as an axiom, or self-evident truth, namely, that if any excuse for disobedience were once admitted, or any indulgence granted to these tender-conscienced inferiors there would be an end of all government in an instant; neither commands nor obedience could proceed one step further, but every individual instrument of power in that fatal society, astonished at the monstrous phenomenon, would stare at one another; all the wheels of the political machine would stop at once. nay would split into ten thou-sand pieces; every relation and connection of their parts would be instantly dissolved, and the beautiful whole would rush into a wild chaos of anarchy and confusion. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Should the idea get abroad that there is likely to be no union among us, it will damp the minds of the people, diminish the glory of our struggle, and lessen its importance; because it will open to our view future prospects of war and dissension among ourselves Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
The value of lands and houses is the best estimate of the wealth of a nation. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
There is an absolute necessity of marriage for the service of the state, and the solid advantages that arise from it. Families, Children & Parenting
There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost and religious liberty preserved entire, If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage. Religion & God ;Freedom & Liberty
Never read a book through merely because you have begun it.
Never rise to speak till you have something to say; and when you have said it, cease.
The people in general ought to have regard to the moral character of those whom they invest with authority either in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches.
Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary conversation. Trust