WITHERSPOON, John, a Delegate from New Jersey; born in Gifford, Haddingtonshire,
Scotland, February 5, 1723; completed preparatory studies; was graduated from
Edinburgh University in 1739; studied theology at Edinburgh; was licensed in
1743 and ordained minister of the parish of Beith in 1745; was the author of
various religious pamphlets; installed pastor at Paisley June 16, 1757;
moderator of the synod of Glasgow and Ayr in 1758; became president of the
College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1768; member of the
committee on correspondence from Somerset County July 28, 1775; member of the
Provincial Congress of New Jersey from June 10 to June 22, 1776; Member of the
Continental Congress from 1776-1782; a signer of the Declaration of
Independence; member of the secret committee of the Congress on the conduct of
the war and member of the board of war in 1778; member of the State council in
1780; drafted the instructions of June 1781 to the American peace
commissioners; served in the State general assembly in 1783 and 1789; member of
the State ratification convention in 1787; after the war returned to Princeton,
where he continued his duties as president; died on his farm near Princeton,
N.J., November 15, 1794; interment in the Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, N.J.
BibliographyCollins, Varnum Lansing.
President Witherspoon, A Biography. 2 vols. Princeton:
Princeton University, 1925.