Charles Thomson

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Charles Thomson (November 29, 1729 – August 16, 1824) served as the secretary of the Continental Congress(1774–1789) during the entirety of the time it met.

He helped design what would eventually become the Great Seal of the United States,[1], and he spent nearly two decades translating the Bible from its original Greek.[2]


He was born in Ireland in 1729, and at the age of eleven years was brought to America in company with three older brothers. Their father died from the effects of sea sickness, when within sight of the capes of the Delaware. They landed at New Castle, in Delaware, and had no other capital with which to commence life in the New World, than strong and willing hands and honest hearts. Charles was educated at New London, in Pennsylvania, by Dr Allison and became a teacher in the Friend's Academy at New Castle. He went to Philadelphia where he enjoyed the friendship of Dr Franklin and other eminent men.[3]


In 1756 he was the secretary for the Delaware Indians at a great council held with the white people, at Easton; and that tribe adopted him as a son, according to an ancient custom. With all the zeal of an ardent nature, Thomson espoused the republican cause; and when the first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, in September 1774, he was called to the responsible duty of secretary to that body.

At about that time he married Hannah Harrison, (the aunt of future President Harrison) whose brother Benjamin was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Year after year, Mr Thomson kept the records of the proceedings of Congress, until the new organization of the government under the Federal Constitution in 1789.

Thomson Bible

The demands of public business did not wean him from books of which he was a great lover. He had a passion for the study of Greek authors and actually translated the Septuagint from the original into English. He made copious notes of the progress of the Revolution, and after retiring from public life in 1789, he prepared a History of his own times. But his sense of justice and goodness of heart would not permit him to publish it, and a short time before he died he destroyed the manuscript. He gave as a reason, that he was unwilling to blast the reputation of families rising into repute, whose progenitors were proved to be unworthy of the friendship of good men, because of their bad conduct during the war.


Mr Thomson died on the 16th of August 1824, at the age of 95.[4]


  • Septuagint Bible (Translated from Greek to English)
  • A Synopsis of the Four Evangelists, Or, A Regular History of the Conception, Birth, Doctrine, Miracles, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ: In the Words of the Evangelists, 1815

See also