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

America had a common language, unlike the European nations, none of which was linguistically homogeneous. in 1789 the majority of Frenchmen did not speak French but were divided by a variety of provincial patois. Englishmen from Yorkshire were incomprehensible to those from Cornwall and vice versa. By contrast, Americans could understand one another from Maine to Georgia. It was very obvious why this should be so, said John Witherspoon, president of Princeton. Since Americans were much more unsettled, and move frequently from place to place, they are not as liable to local peculiarities, either in accent or phraseology.

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