DICKINSON, John

1732–1808

Biography

DICKINSON, John, (brother of Philemon Dickinson), a Delegate from Pennsylvania and from Delaware; born on his father's estate, "Crosiadore," near Trappe, Talbot County, Md., November 8, 1732; moved with his parents in 1740 to Dover, Del., where he studied under a private teacher; studied law in Philadelphia and at the Middle Temple in London; was admitted to the bar in 1757 and commenced practice in Philadelphia; member of the Assembly of "Lower Counties," as the State of Delaware was then called, in 1760; member of the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1762 and 1764; delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765; Member from Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress 1774-1776 and from Delaware in 1779; brigadier general of Pennsylvania Militia; President of the State of Delaware in 1781; returned to Philadelphia and served as President of Pennsylvania 1782-1785; returned to Delaware; was a member of the Federal convention of 1787 which framed the Constitution and was one of the signers from Delaware; died in Wilmington, New Castle County, Del., on February 14, 1808; interment in Wilmington Friends Meetinghouse Burial Ground.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

University of Central Florida Library
Special Collections Department

Orlando, FL
Papers: 1745-1808, 3.25 linear feet. The collection includes correspondence, records, documents and manuscripts. The papers deal mainly with John Dickinson's political and business activities in the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period. Included are drafts of unpublished pamphlets and other manuscripts, records and documents relating to John Dickinson's law practice and political activities, and correspondence with other prominent figures of the era. These materials are photocopies of the Dickinson family papers deposited at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

American Philosophical Society Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: In the Duane Family Papers, 1770-1933, approximately 150 items. Subjects covered in the papers include John Dickinson. A table of contents for the papers is available in the repository.
Papers: In the Hall and Sellers Shop Book, 1767-1769, 1 volume. Subjects covered in the book include John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Charles Willson Peale Letterbooks, 1767-1827, 18 volumes. Subjects covered include John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Benjamin Rush Papers, 1759,1813, 5 boxes. Subjects covered include John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Frederick Smyth Papers, 1756-1816, 56 items. Subjects covered include John Dickinson.

Brown University
John Hay Library

Providence, RI
Papers: In the Thomas Rodney Papers, ca. 1784-1810, approximately 72 items. Subjects covered include John Dickinson. An inventory is available in the repository.

Duke University
Medical Center Library

Durham, NC
Papers: In the Benjamin Rush Papers, 1766-1845, 252 items. Correspondents include John Dickinson.

Copley Press, Inc.
J. S. Copley Library

La Jolla, CA
Papers: 1770, approximately 2 pages. A letter from John Dickinson to an unidentified recipient written on November 17, 1770. John Dickinson pleads on behalf of two men being held as prisoners in New Jersey.
Papers: In the Robert Morris Papers, 1782, 5 pages. A letter from Robert Morris to John Dickinson, Governor of the State of Delaware, written on April 5, 1782. Robert Morris writes details concerning the need for compliance with congressional legislation which proportions the expenses of the war to the individual states.

Dartmouth College
Rauner Special Collections Library

Hanover, NH
Papers: 1775, 1 page. A letter from John Dickinson to Colonel George Washington. John Dickinson introduces Peter Boyd, son of Thomas Boyd, and explains that Peter Boyd is tring to gain 5,000 acres of land promised to his father by the royal proclamation.

Hagley Museum and Library
Manuscripts and Archives Department

Greenville, DE
Microfilm: In the John Nicholson Papers, 1772-1819, 27 reels. Subjects covered include John Dickinson. A finding aid is available in the repository.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1760-1772, approximately 6 items. The papers include John Dickinson's notes on legal practice, a continuance docket from 1760-1772, and a commonplace book.
Papers: In the Jacob Ashmead Papers, 1698-1794, 1 volume. Subjects covered in the papers include John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Benjamin Chew Papers, 1776-1904, 1 linear foot. This collections consists of estate papers of Benjamin Chew. Some of the early legal instruments contain the signatures of John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Coxe Family Papers, ca. 1638-1897, 210 linear feet. Correspondents include John Dickinson. The collection is also available on microfilm.
Papers: In the Simon Gratz Papers, 1677-1910, 100 linear feet. Correspondents include John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Deborah Norris Logan Papers, 1815-1839, 17 volumes. These volumes include diaries of Deborah Norris Logan. Subjects covered in the diaries include John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Logan Family Papers, 1664-1871, 30 linear feet.. These papers include a letter book of Jonathan Dickinson from 1698-1701. The collection is also available on microfilm.
Papers: In the Loudoun Papers, ca. 1696-1939, approximately 1,900 items. A section of Dickinson family papers date from 1760 until 1856. The papers include incoming official and personal correspondence of John Dickinson, as well as outgoing family correspondence, especially from John Dickinson to his wife, Mary Norris Dickinson. The papers also include financial records and family correspondence.
Papers: In the Provincial Delegates Letters, 1754-1829, approximately 600 items. The letters represent men who served as provincial delegates, including John Dickinson, 1754-1774.
Papers: In the Robert Restalrig Logan Collection, 1671-1863, size unknown. The Logan Papers are in collections of the Library Company of Philadelphia at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The papers include correspondence, documents, land and business records, financial records, real estate records, essays, notes, and newspaper clippings of John Dickinson in relation to his political and business activities. A significant portion of the papers document John Dickinson's private affairs, especially land and business activities. Documents from the Revolutionary War period relate chiefly to John Dickinson's service as an officer in the Pennsylvania. Government documents extend from the early Revolutionary period and John Dickinson's involvement in the Stamp Act Congress to his participation in the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Pennsylvania government documents include financial accounts, drafts of John Dickinson's speeches prepared while he was president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, bills, court-martial records, materials on the Wyoming controversy and miscellaneous notes on government affairs. Delaware government include papers on the Delaware River land dispute, militia returns, budget figures and various bill drafts and notes. There are also materials regarding John Dickinson's law practice which include information on cases argued before the High Court of Errors in Pennsylvania. An unpublished finding aid is available in the repository.
Papers: In the Read Family Papers, 1716-1872, approximately 200 items. Correspondents include John Dickinson.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: In the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection, 1783-1787, 2 items. Includes two items from John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Ephraim Blaine Papers, 1765-1805, 3500 items. Correspondents include John Dickinson. A finding aid is available in the repository.
Papers: In the Marian S. Carson Collection, ca. 1656-1995, 26.4 linear feet. Individual represented include John Dickinson. A finding aid is available in the repository and online.
Papers: In the Julia Post Mitchell Kunkle Collection, 1783-1788, 50 items. This collection is of J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur from 1783-1788. Correspondents include John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Read Family Papers, ca. 1568-1906, 2.2 linear feet. Correspondents include John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Rodney Family Papers, 1771-1824, 2.2 linear feet. Correspondents include John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Nicholas Van Dyke Papers, 1781-1793, 300 items. Correspondents include John Dickinson.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Boston, MA
Papers: In the Warren-Adams Papers, 1767-1822, 4 boxes. Correspondents include John Dickinson. An item list and index is available in the repository.

The Morgan Library
Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts

New York, NY
Papers: 1766, 1 item. A letter from John Dickinson to an unidentified written on August 9, 1766.
Papers: 1767, 1 item. A letter from John Dickinson to an unidentified recipient written on May 13, 1767.
Papers: 1772, 1 item. A letter from John Dickinson to an unidentified recipient written on April 18, 1772.
Papers: 1779, 1 item. A letter from John Dickinson to General Hand written on February 18, 1779. John Dickinson writes that he will call on General Hand with "some Historys for your amusement in that Wilderness which is your desination."
Papers: In the Jefferson Autograph Album, 1784, 1 item. A letter from John Dickinson to Thomas Jefferson written on October 25, 1784.
Papers: 1785, 1 item. A letter from John Dickinson to Thomas Smith written on April 30, 1785.
Papers: 1803, 1 item. A letter from John Dickinson to an unidentified recipient written on November 1, 1803.
Papers: 1803, 1 item. A letter from John Dickinson to an unidentified recipient written on November 8, 1803.
Papers: In the Arthur Saint Clair Papers, 1784, 1 item. A letter from Arthur Saint Clair to John Dickinson written on July 28, 1784. Arthur Saint Clair writes that he is sending the names of officers for possible appointment to the command of troops to be stationed near Detroit and Niagara.

The New York Public Library
Rare Books and Manuscripts Division

New York, NY
Papers: In the Caesar Rodney Papers, 1749-1923, 0.3 linear foot. Other authors include John Dickinson.

Penn State University Libraries
Special Collections Library

University Park, PA
Papers: In the Historical Collections and Labor Archives Autographs Collection, 1682-1972, 0.45 cubic foot, Correspondents include John Dickinson.

The Rosenbach Museum & Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: n.d., 1 item. A promissory note from John Dickinson agreeing to accept Pennsylvania money as specie in a transaction involving Thomas Adam and Conrad Keehmle.
Papers: 1779, 1 item. A letter from John Dickinson to Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson written on September 18, 1779. John Dickinson agrees to assist Mrs. Fergusson in an unspecified matter.
Papers: 1784, 1 item. A letter from John Dickinson to James Booth written on July 10, 1784. John Dickinson requests that James Booth help him re;lace omissions in his set of the Delaware law prior to the Revolution.
Papers: In the George Read Papers, 1766, 1 page. A letter from George Read to John Dickinson written on July 28, 1766. George Read writes concerning a lawsuit in the Delaware courts.
Papers: In the A. S. W. Rosenbach Collection, 1876-1952, 56 items. This group of materials includes papers of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Correspondents include John Dickinson.
Papers: In the Samuel Dickinson Papers, 1759, 3 pages. A will for Samuel Dickinson that lists the heirs and executors including Philemon Dickinson.

University of Michigan
William L. Clements Library

Ann Arbor, MI
Papers: In the Humphry Marshall Papers, ca. 1721-1863, 1.6 linear feet. Other authors include John Dickinson. A finding aid is available in the repository.

University of Pennsylvania
Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Van Pelt Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: In the James Wilson Papers, 1784-1890, 3 items. The papers include a petition to John Dickinson, President of the Supreme Executive Council of the State of Pennsylvania, dated April 17, 1784. The petitioners who identify themselves as "the Practitioners of the Law in the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Philadelphia," request that the offices of Justice of the Peace and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas by kept separate.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Ahern, Gregory Stephen. "'Experience Must Be Our Only Guide:' John Dickinson and the spirit of American republicanism," Ph. D. diss., Catholic University of America, 1997.

Calvert, Jane E., "Liberty Without Tumult: Understanding the Politics of John Dickinson," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 131 (July 2007): 233-62.

Dickinson, John. The Farmer's and Monitor's Letters to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies. Virginia Independence Bicentennial Edition. Williamsburg, Va.: Printed by W. Rind, 1769.

___. The Late Regulations Respecting the British Colonies on the Continent of America Considered, In a Letter From a Gentleman in Philadelphia to His Friend in London. Philadelphia, printed; London, re-printed for J. Almon, 1766.

___. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania. 1768. Reprint, St. Clair Shores, Mich.: Scholarly Press, [1969].&

___. The Letters of Fabius, in 1788, on the Federal Constitution and in 1797, on the Present Situation of Public Affairs. Wilmington, Del.: From the Office of the Delaware Gazette, by W.C. Smyth, 1797.

___. A New Essay (by the Pennsylvanian Farmer) on the Constitutional Power of Great-Britain Over the Colonies in America; With the Resolves of the Committee for the Province of Pennsylvania, and Their Instructions to Their Representatives in Assembly. Philadelphia, printed; London, re-printed for J. Almon, 1774.

___. The Political Writings of John Dickinson, 1764-1774. 1801. Reprint, edited by Paul Leicester Ford. New York: Da Capo Press, 1970.

Flower, Milton Embick. John Dickinson, Conservative Revolutionary. Charlottesville, Va.: Published for the Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion by the University Press of Virginia, 1983.

Fredman, Lionel E. John Dickinson, American Revolutionary Statesman. Charlotteville, N.Y.: SamHar Press, 1974.

Jacobson, David Louis. John Dickinson and the Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1764-1776. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1965.

McDonald, Forrest. Empire and Nation: Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, John Dickinson. Letters from the Federal Farmer, Richard Henry Lee. Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 1999.

Scull, Florence D. John Dickinson Sounds the Alarm. Philadelphia: Auerbach Publishers, [1972].

Stille, Charles J. The Life and Times of John Dickinson, 1732-1808. 1891. Reprint, New York: B. Franklin, [1969].

Willson, John. John Dickinson - The Letters of Fabius (1788). Hillsdale, Mich.: Hillsdale College Press, 1992.

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