Biographies

all  |  people you should know

Artists  |  British  |  Colonials  |  Enslaved People  |  French  |  Germans  |  Natives  |  Spanish  |  Others

A

  • John AdamsSigner of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat, second President
  • Samuel AdamsBoston revolutionary leader, signer of the Declaration of Independence
  • Benedict ArnoldTalented Continental Army general who defected to the British

B

  • John BurgoyneBritish playwright, politician; general who lost the Battles of Saratoga
  • Aaron BurrContinental Army officer, lawyer, Vice President; killed Hamilton in a duel

C

D

  • John DickinsonLawyer, politician, writer, signer of the Declaration of Independence

F

  • Benjamin FranklinPhiladelphia printer, writer, scientist, inventor, diplomat to France

G

  • Thomas GageBritish general, Royal Governor of MA, ordered troops to Concord
  • King George IIIKing of Great Britain in 1760, at age 22, until 1820
  • George GermainBritish lord; American Secretary, 1775—82
  • Nathanael GreeneContinental Army general; key to winning the war in the South

H

  • Alexander HamiltonWashington’s aide-de-camp, lawyer, Secretary of the Treasury
  • John HancockMerchant, signer of the Declaration of Independence, MA governor
  • Sally HemingsHouse slave of Thomas Jefferson; mother of at least six of his children
  • Patrick HenryLawyer, orator, VA governor
  • William HoweCommander-in-chief of British forces, 1775—78

J

  • John JayLawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice
  • Thomas JeffersonLawyer, polymath, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, third President
  • John Paul JonesNaval commander for the U.S.

K

  • Henry KnoxContinental Army general, chief artillery officer, first Secretary of War

L

M

  • James MadisonConstitutionalist, congressman, Secretary of State, fourth President
  • George MasonPolitician, author, political philosopher, Anti-Federalist
  • Daniel MorganMilitia soldier, military tactician, Continental Army general
  • Gouverneur MorrisMerchant, financier; helped draft then stylized the Constitution

N

O

P

R

S

  • Baron von SteubenContinental Army general from Prussia, drilled the troops at Valley Forge
  • Gilbert StuartAmerican painter of quintessential portraits, including George Washington

T

  • John TrumbullAmerican artist, soldier at the Battle of Trenton

V

W

Charles Willson Peale, despite his devotion to the taxonomic and contemplative majesty of the natural world, nevertheless loved novelties and used all sorts of amusements to attract customers to his museum. He eventually resorted to hiring a popular musical performer who played five different instruments simultaneously, using all parts of his body. Following Peale’s death the museum passed into the enterprising hands of P. T. Barnum, becoming part of his traveling circus — a romantic ending for an Enlightenment institution.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)