Josiah Bartlett

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Founding Fathers
Josiah Bartlett
State New Hampshire
Religion Christian- Congregationalist [1]
Founding Documents Declaration of Independence,
Articles of Confederation

Josiah Bartlett (November 21, 1729 – May 19, 1795) was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention from the state of New Hampshire and one of the Founding fathers. Bartlett signed both the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence.[2] He held a physicians license and was member of the Continental Congress in 1775, 1776, and 1778. In addition, Bartlett served in the State court as Judge and was he was elected president of New Hampshire, and then governor of New Hampshire.[3] He was a supporter of the Federalists[4][5] and an active advocate against British oppression.

Early life

Josiah Bartlett was born at Amesbury, Massachusetts, the fourth son of Stephen Bartlett and Hannah-Mary Webster. Dr. Ordway, of Amesbury tutored Bartlett for five years. At age 17 he was studying foreign languages and medicine in Kingston, New Hampshire. For several decades Kingston had been infected with throat distemper, a swine related disease. Josiah Bartlett, as a practicing physician crafted the cure for the disease. He administered Peruvian bark to a child of his own afflicted with the disease, and with entire success. From this time the use of it became general, as a remedy in diseases of the same type.[6]


In the year 1765, Doctor Bartlett was elected to the legislature of the province of New-Hampshire. Royal governor John Wentworth appointed Dr. Bartlett to the office of justice of the peace. Bartlett accepted but failed to give allegiance to Wentworth or Britain. Also, he retained his seat in the house of representatives of the province. The governor deprived Barlett of his commission as justice of the peace, and dismissed him from command in the militia. Barlett traveled to Boston, and then to the Isle of Shoals, where he issued his proclamation, asking for allegiance and adjourning the assembly. After subsisting for a period of ninety years, by this act the British government was forever annihilated in New-Hampshire. In interim, he became the defacto President of New Hampshire. He would serve in the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1778 and signed the Declaration of Independence. During the remainder of his life, he resided in New-Hampshire.

In 1778, Josiah Barlett became chief justice of the New Hampshire court of common pleas. In 1782, he became an associate justice of the Supreme Court and in 1788, and despite not having a law degree he advanced to become Chief Justice. Later in his career, he joined the Democratic-Republican party.

In 1789, he was elected a senator to Congress and would sign the Articles of Confederation. In 1790, he founded the New Hampshire Medical Society, serving as its first president. In January, 1794, he expressed his determination to close his public career by letter.


This distinguished patriot passed away in Kingston on the 19th day of May, 1795, he was 66 years old. Barlett, New Hampshire and Josiah Bartlett Elementary School are named in his honor.

Pop Culture

The NBC television series The West Wing has a fictional character, President Josiah Bartlet (with one T), who was a Barlett's descendants, played by actor Martin Sheen.