Philemon Dickinson

1739 – 1809

I was a leader of the Militia, and a representative in the Legislature.

I was born in Delaware in 1739 on my father’s plantation. I graduated from the College of Philadelphia in 1754, studied law with my brother John in Philadelphia, married Mary Cadwalader in 1767 and became the owner of an estate on the banks of the Delaware a mile north of Trenton.

When the Revolution broke out I was commissioned a brigadier general of the militia, on October 19, 1775. In 1776, I represented Hunterdon County in the Provincial Congress of New Jersey and helped draw up New Jersey’s Constitution, which was adopted two days before the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

During the summer and fall of 1776, my troops guarded New Jersey against the British making forays from Staten Island and New York City. In November and December, we retreated with Washington’s army south across New Jersey, crossed the Delaware into Pennsylvania, and I established my headquarters at Yardley. Our part of the river was completely frozen with ice, so we could not get across to take part in the Battle of Trenton.

After the British returned to New York in 1777, many of my militiamen were assigned to man posts opposite Staten Island. We were praised for our fighting in the battles of Monmouth, Connecticut Farms, and Springfield.

In 1784 after the war, I wrote a report recommending that Trenton be the capital of our new nation. I stayed active in civic and financial affairs until my death on February 4, 1809, at the age of 70.


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Image Philemon Dickinson