Heritage of the Founding Fathers
Heritage of the Founding Fathers

A Lasting Effect
About John Witherspoon
Josh Pittman

John Witherspoon (1723-1794) was a patriot, yes, but as John Adams said, “…first he was a son of the Cross.”1  Witherspoon was a pastor in America and also in Scotland where he was born and raised.  He entered the University of Edinburgh when he was 15 years old and there learned theology.  After sentenced to a prison in Scotland because of his strong Christian convictions, he moved his family to America. 

In America, Witherspoon became the President of Princeton for 25 years.  An American patriot, he entered politics around the time of the Revolutionary War.  He was later elected representative to the general congress by the citizens of New Jersey.  He was a member of the Continental Congress and had the honor of signing the Declaration of Independence.  He believed in the cause of liberty from England stating:

Gentlemen, New Jersey is ready to vote for independence.  In our judgment, the country is not only ripe for independence, but we are in danger of becoming rotten for the want of it, if we delay any longer!”1

He had a profound impact on America both as a statesman and educator.  He trained a president, 21 senators, over 30 congressmen, justices of the Supreme Court, governors, and 55 members of the Constitutional Convention. 

He stated:

God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both.1

He believed that:

It is the man of piety and inward principle, that we may expect to find the uncorrupted patriot, the useful citizen, and the invincible soldier.1

No one knows the lasting effect patriot John Witherspoon had on his students.  He helped to influence a generation of politicians and by doing so, made an impact on American government.   


1.  Federer, William.  America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations.  AmeriSearch.  2000