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The Religious Affiliation of
Stephen Hopkins
a Signer of the American Declaration of Independence


Stephen Hopkins is regarded as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was a delegate from Rhode Island.

Stephen Hopkins was an Episcopalian (with Baptist ancestry) and a devout Christian.

From: B. J. Lossing, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, George F. Cooledge & Brother: New York (1848) [reprinted in Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, WallBuilder Press: Aledo, Texas (1995)], pages 44-46:

Stephen Hopkins... His mother was the daughter of one of the first Baptist ministers of Providence... He was a sincere and consistent Christian, and the impress of his profession was upon all his deeds.


From: B. J. Lossing, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, George F. Cooledge & Brother: New York (1848) [reprinted in Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, WallBuilder Press: Aledo, Texas (1995)], pages 44-46: Stephen Hopkins was born in the town of Providence, Rhode Island, on the seventh of March, 1707. His mother was the daughter of one of the first Baptist ministers of Providence. The opportunities for acquiring education at the time of Mr. Hopkins' childhood, were rare, but his vigorous intllect, in a measure, became a substitute for these opportunities, and he became self-taught, in the truest sense of the word. Mr. Hopkins was a farmer until 1731, when he removed to Providence and engaged in mercantile business. In 1732, he was chosen a representative for Scituate [a town previously part of Providence] in the General Assembly, and was re-chosen annually until 1738. He was again elected in 1741, and was chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives. From taht time until 1751, he was almost every year a member and speaker of the assembly. That year he was chosen Chief Justice of the Colony.

Mr. Hopkins was a delegate to the Colonial Convention held in Albany in 1754. He was elected Governor of the Colony in 1756, and continued in that office almost the whole time, until 1767. During the French war, Governor Hopkins was very active in promoting the enlistment of volunteers for the service, and when Montcalm seemed to be sweeping all before him at the north, Hopkins raised a volunteer corps, and was placed at its head; but its services were not needed, and it was disbanded.

He early opposed the oppressive acts of Great Britain, and in 1774, he held three offices of great responsibility, which were conferred upon him by the patriots--namely: Chief Justice of Rhode Island, representative in the Provincial Assembly, and delegate to the Continental Congress. At this time he introduced a bill into the Assmbly of Rhode Island, to prevent the importation of slaves; and to show that his professions, on this point, were sincere, he manumitted all of those which belonged to himself.

In 1775, he was a member of the Committee of Public Safety, of Rhode Island, and was again a delegate to the General Congress. He was re-elected in 1776, and had the privilege of signing the glorious Declaration of Independence. He was chosen a delegate to the General Congress for the last time, in 1778, and was one of the committee who drafted the Articles of Confederation for the government of the States. Notwithstanding he was then over seventy years, he was exceedingly active, and was almost constantly a member of some important committee. He died on the nineteenth of July, 1785, in the seventy-eighty year of his age.

The life of Mr. Hopkins exhibits a fine example of the rewards of honest, persevering industry. Although his early education was limited, yet he became a distinguished mathematician, and filled almost every public station in the gift of the people, with singular ability. He was a sincere and consistent Christian, and the impress of his profession was upon all his deeds.

The signature of Mr. Hopkins is remarkable, and appears as if written by one greatly agitated by fear. But fea was no part of Mr. Hopkins' character. The cause of the tremulous appearance of his signature, was a bodily infirmity, called "shaking palsy," with which he had been afflicted many years, and which obliged him to employ an amanuensis to do his writing...

He rendered great assistance to other scientific men, in observing the transit of Venus which occurred in June, 1769. He was one of the prime movers in forming a public library in Providence, in 1750. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society, and was the projector and patron of the Free Schools in Providence.

From: Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975), page 81:
Hopkins... withdrew from public service about 1780 and died 5 years later in Providence [in Rhode Island] at the age of 78. He was interred in the North Burial Ground.

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Portrait: from Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975).

Webpage created 12 November 2005. Last modified 22 November 2005.

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