John Witherspoon

Burial Location Visited DoI Signer Grave #
Princeton, New Jersey April 23, 2010 19th Visited


Buried less than thirty feet from Aaron Burr                                                Crouching down next to John
is John Witherspoon, a famous patriot who                                                 Witherspoon's grave.
signed the Declaration of Independence.
Burr's upright grave is shown at the center
of this photograph, and Witherspoon's
marker is the second one from the bottom.


When I first started this hobby of mine, I                                    John Witherspoon was the sixth president
had no interest in going to the burial sites                                   of the College of New Jersey, now known
of the signers of Declaration of Independence.                            as Princeton University. Because of this,
As you might have guessed, I have since                                    he is interred in a section of the cemetery
changed my mind, and thus we had to return                              called Presidents' Plot.
to Princeton Cemetery to visit Witherspoon.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Originally from Scotland, Witherspoon and his family emigrated to the colonies in 1768 at suggestion of Richard Stockton, a prominent member of society. Witherspoon had received an invitation to be the head of the College of New Jersey, and like the prior invitation he received from the school, he was intent on declining it. However, Rush and Stockton persuaded him to accept the position, and the Witherspoons soon traveled to their new home in North America.

* Witherspoon personally taught some of the courses at the college, such as divinity, rhetoric, history, and moral philosophy. During his tenure as president, Witherspoon had some very notable pupils, which included Aaron Burr, James Madison, and John Breckinridge, who later became attorney general and the grandfather of America's 14th vice president.

* He was first elected to Congress in June of 1776, one month before its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence. Witherspoon, who was entirely supportive of separation from Great Britain, lost his son in the American Revolution the following year.

* John Witherspoon retired from the Continental Congress in 1779 so that he could lead a more leisurely lifestyle and enjoy what years of his life he had left. Witherspoon's retirement did not last long, though, as he was re-elected to the Congress in 1781.

* In 1782, after it seemed certain that a treaty between Britain and America would be signed, Witherspoon resigned from Congress. He spent his remaining time on Earth rather ill, and he was actually blind for the last two years of his life. He passed away on November 15, 1794. Upon his death, Samuel Stanhope Smith became the president of the College of New Jersey.

Spouse: Elizabeth Montgomery Witherspoon (1721-1789)
              Ann Marshall Dill Witherspoon Walker (1768-1811)

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