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John Dickinson

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 2 years, 8 months ago


John Dickinson - Penman, Politician & Statesman - Biography


John Dickinson,  legislator and lawyer



“The wellsprings of nearly all ensuing debate on the

limits of governmental power in the United States”




He published a series of letters from 1767-1768.  These letters were printed in newspapers throughout the colonies, and were later published together as a single pamphlet, entitled Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania.  published in the colonies, in England and in France, which united the colonists against the Townshend Acts,  prompting the occupation of Boston and the leading to the Boston Massacre


­ Member of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, wrote essays to promote the Constitution Served as Pennsylvania governor


John Dickinson ­ Founding father who was opposed to independence. ­ Abstained from voting on and signing the Declaration of Independence ­  








Letters From a Pennsylvania Farmer

Voices of dissent over Parliament's growing authority upon the colonies in America were heard long before the colonists' actual act of independence. Though conciliatory in tone, his Letters made clear that Britain's policies were wrong and deprived the colonies of their lawful rights. Ultimately, Letters from a Farmer urge united action on the part of the colonists. 


A preeminent Philadelphia lawyer, Dickinson was elected to the Pennsylvania legislature in 1762 where he was active in protesting British policies.  Attending the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, he advocated commercial retaliation. Dickinson's writings entitled Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer were published in newspapers in 1767 and 1768.




The letter that appears here is the very first Letter in his series. It appears in the Boston Chronicle of December 21, 1767. As it happens, this is also the very first issue published by the Chronicle. While the actual year does not appear on the newspaper's masthead, note "Vol. 1 and No. 1" at each of its sides.


Dickinson's first Letter illustrates perfectly the author's moderate and reasoned approach while at the same time recommending concerted action. Here Dickinson discusses Parliament's suspension of the New York Assembly following the legislature's refusal to comply with Britain's recently-enacted Quartering Act.


Dickinson went on to become a member of the Continental Congress, agreeing to the necessity of armed resistance. Later he helped draft the Articles of Confederation, and was an active participant in the Constitutional Convention of 1787.


Dickinson wrote 13 letters in all, published as a pamphlet that went through at least ten editions. His Letters had a significant impact on political thought not only in America but also in England.


Read the original Letters From A Pennsylvania Farmer Text



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