Whipple, William

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Whipple, William

WHIPPLE, WILLIAM. (1730–1785). Signer. Maine-New Hampshire. A descendant of Matthew Whipple, who came to America from England prior to 1638, William was born on 14 January 1730 in Kittery (in what became Maine). After attending local schools he went to sea, was made master of a vessel while still in his early twenties, and engaged in slave trading. He left the sea in 1760 when he entered a business partnership with his brother, Joseph, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a short distance from his birthplace. After playing a prominent part in the Revolutionary politics of his region, he was elected to the Continental Congress in 1776 and remained a delegate until he declined reelection in 1780. He signed the Declaration of Independence, was active in committees, and showed an exceptionally realistic attitude on such vital matters as the need for heavy taxation to finance the struggle, the need for reforms in the commissary and recruiting systems, the importance of naval operations, and the requirement for military success in America rather than diplomatic cleverness in Europe to win the war. He left Congress temporarily to serve as a brigadier general (appointed by the New Hampshire state legislature on 18 July 1777) in command of the First Brigade of the state militia in the two Battles of Saratoga and in Sullivan's Newport operations in 1778. He and General Glover commanded the troops that escorted Burgoyne's captured army to Cambridge. During the period 1780–1784 Whipple sat in the state assembly, and from 1782 until his death in 1785, he was associate justice of the New Hampshire superior court. Only fifty-five years old when he died on 28 November 1785, he had been performing his arduous duties for several years while in bad health and with the belief—confirmed by autopsy—that he was in danger of sudden death. Whipple had married Catherine Moffatt in 1767, and they had lived in a house owned by her family that overlooked Portsmouth Harbor.


Adams, Steve. "William Whipple." In New Hampshire: Years of Revolution, 1774–1783. Edited by Peter Randall. Portsmouth: New Hampshire Profiles, 1976.

Estes, J. Worth. Hall Jackson and the Purple Foxglove: Medical Practice and Research in Revolutionary America, 1760–1820. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1979.

Potter, Chandler E. The Military History of the State of New Hampshire, 1623–1861. 1868. Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1972.

Upton, Richard Francis. Revolutionary New Hampshire. 1936. Reprint, New York: Octagon Books, 1971.

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