Bartlett, Josiah

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Bartlett, Josiah

BARTLETT, JOSIAH. (1729–1795). Signer. Massachusetts. Josiah Bartlett was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, on 21 November 1729. After a classical education, he studied medicine at the age of sixteen, and in 1750 he began a medical practice in Kingston, New Hampshire. A successful doctor who introduced several medical reforms, he won election to the provincial assembly in 1765 and served as a member continuously. He held a civil commission as justice of the peace (1767) and a militia commission commanding a regiment (1770), but the royal government rescinded these appointments in 1775 in response to his open opposition to the Crown. In 1774 he served on the Committee of Correspondence and as a member of the first extralegal provincial congress, which selected him as a delegate to the Continental Congress. He was unable to accept this appointment, however, because he was occupied with the rebuilding of his house, which had recently been destroyed by a chimney fire. In 1775 he was again elected, and he served in Congress until 1777, when he resigned owing to poor health. He signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In August 1777 he was with General John Stark at Bennington, where he attended the sick and wounded. He held the rank of militia colonel from 1777 to 1779. He was re-elected to Congress in March 1778, where he signed the Articles of Confederation. He was the only medical practitioner to sign both the Declaration and the Articles. Worn out by work in Congress, Bartlett returned home in late 1778. In 1782, he was named as an associate justice of the superior court, serving until his appointment as chief justice in January 1790. In February 1788 he served as delegate and president pro tem of New Hampshire's federal constitution ratification convention. In the spring of 1790 New Hampshire voters elected Bartlett to the office of chief executive (then called president), a position he won annually. In 1792 the amended state constitution changed the title to governor and Bartlett won another annual term. He retired in June 1794. He organized and was first president of the New Hampshire Medical Society in 1791, the year before he was given an honorary medical degree by Dartmouth College. Bartlett and his wife Mary (nee Bartlett), a cousin, had ten children, eight of whom lived into adulthood. Bartlet died of apoplexy in Kingston, New Hampshire, on 15 May 1795.

SEE ALSO Continental Congress.


Bartlett, Josiah. The Papers of Josiah Bartlett. Edited by Frank C. Mevers. Hanover, N,H: University Press of New England, 1979.

Eastman, Anne, and Charles Jr. "Josiah Bartlett." In New Hampshire: Years of Revolution, edited by Peter E. Randall. Portsmouth, N.H.: Profiles Publishing, 1976.

Mevers, Frank C. "Josiah Bartlett: Dedicated Physician, Sterling Patriot." In Physician Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Edited by George E. Gifford, Jr. New York: Science History Publications, 1976.

                              revised by Frank C. Mevers

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