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Withersspoon, John - History

Withersspoon, John - History

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Witherspoon, John

John Witherspoon was born in 1723 in Gifford, a small village near Edinburgh. He obtained a solid education in grammar school and later completed a divinity degree at the University of Edinburgh. In 1768 he decided to come to America after being offered a position as president of the College of New Jersey (today Princeton University).

Witherspoon had always hated the British, and he naturally supported the colonies in their struggle. Between 1774 and 1776 he represented his county at New Jersey's provincial assemblies. He also served on local committees of correspondence and was active in the movement that managed to remove and imprison the Royal Governor.

From 1776 until 1782, Witherspoon attended the Continental Congress. His work there focused mainly on matters dealing with military and foreign affairs. Later on, he was a participant in debates concerning the Articles of Confederation.

John Witherspoon died in 1794 at the age of sixty-eight. He was buried at Princeton Cemetery's Presidents' Lot.

John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon brought some impressive credentials and a measure of public acclaim with him when he joined the colonies in 1768, as president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton).

Born in 1723, he received the finest education available to a bright young gentleman of that era. John attended the preparatory school in Haddington Scotland. He proceeded to Edinburgh where he attained a Master of Arts, then to four years of divinity school. At this point he was twenty. In 1743 he became a Presbyterian Minister at a parish in Beith, where he married, authored three noted works on theology. He was later awarded a Doctorate of Divinity from the University of St. Andrews, in recognition of his theological skills. It was only through a protracted effort on the part of several eminent Americans, including Richard Stockton and Benjamin Rush, that the colonies were able to acquire his service. In colonial American, the best educated men were often found in the clergy. The College of New Jersey needed a first rate scholar to serve as its first president. Witherspoon was at first unable to accept the offer, due to his wife's great fear of crossing the sea. She later had second thoughts, and a visit from the charming Dr. Rush secured the deal. He emigrated to New Jersey in 1768.

Dr. Witherspoon enjoyed great success at the College of New Jersey. He turned it into a very successful institution, and was a very popular man as a result. He also wrote frequent essays on subjects of interest to the colonies. While he at first abstained from political concerns, he came to support the revolutionary cause, accepting appointment to the committees of correspondence and safety in early 1776. Later that year he was elected to the Continental Congress in time to vote for R. H. Lee's Resolution for Independence. He voted in favor, and shortly after voted for the Declaration of Independence. He made a notable comment on that occasion in reply to another member who argued that the country was not yet ripe for such a declaration, that in his opinion it "was not only ripe for the measure, but in danger of rotting for the want of it." Witherspoon was a very active member of congress, serving on more than a hundred committees through his tenure and debating frequently on the floor.

In November, 1776, he shut down and then evacuated the College of New Jersey at the approach of British forces. The British occupied the area and did much damage to the college, nearly destroyed it. Following the war, Witherspoon devoted his life to rebuilding the College. He also served twice in the state legislature. In the last years of life he suffered injuries, first to one eye then the other, becoming totally blind two years before his death. He died on his farm, "Tusculum," just outside of Princeton in November of 1794, a man much honored and beloved by his adopted countrymen.

Black History of Health: John Witherspoon

John Weatherspoon, better known as &ldquoJohn Witherspoon&rdquo was a comedian and actor. Best known for his role as &ldquoWillie Pops Jones&rdquo in the Friday series of films, Witherspoon has a vast filmography and television career. Despite not having many leading roles, his over-the-top characters stole scenes and created iconic lines that have lasted beyond the films.

A native of Detroit, Witherspoon began his career as a model but gravitated towards comedy in the 60s and 70s. His quick wit and likable personality gained him many friends in the industry, including the likes of Tim Reid, Robin Williams, Jay Leno, and David Letterman. Letterman eventually became the godfather to Witherspoon&rsquos two sons, John David (JD) and Alexander.

In addition to the Friday series of films, Witherspoon made appearances in many popular and successful films. These include Hollywood Shuffle (1987), I&rsquom Gonna Get You Sucka (1988), House Party (1990), The Five Heartbeats (1991), and Boomerang (1992). It was his character (Mr. Jackson) in Boomerang that taught audiences how to &ldquocoordinate&rdquo and &ldquobang, bang, bang!&rdquo

Witherspoon died of a heart attack in his California home on October 29, 2019. He was survived by his wife, Angela Robinson (1988), and two sons. He was 77 years old.

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A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is when blood flow decreases or stops to a part of the heart, causing damage to the heart muscle. Heart disease is a series of conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina), or stroke. African American adults are more likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease, and they are more likely to die from heart disease.

More black men die from heart attacks associated with stress than any other ethnic group in the United States. There are few early warning signs, which is why it is necessary to get regular check-ups. The check-ups include the following tests:

Witherspoon moves to America

Witherspoon was gaining fame abroad and enjoying popularity at home as the lively theological debate went on in the Church of Scotland. American Presbyterians knew of Witherspoon through his writings, which established him as a man of orthodoxy (belief in long-standing church traditions and established doctrine) and a first-rate scholar. He also had a reputation for possessing a good sense of humor to accompany his commonsense philosophy. Witherspoon's name came up when the trustees of the College of New Jersey (see box) found themselves in need of a new president. In 1766, the New York and Philadelphia Presbyterians recruited Witherspoon to come to America to head the college and lead the Presbyterian Church. He was interested in the position, but his wife, Elizabeth, had no interest in leaving Scotland or her family and friends. She had a great fear of crossing the ocean to begin life in a new land, so Witherspoon regretfully declined the offer.

Though Witherspoon had already turned down the offer, negotiations were kept alive by the continued efforts of Benjamin Rush (1745–1813 see box), a young American and graduate of the College of New Jersey who was studying medicine in Edinburgh at the time. Rush spent several days with the Witherspoons, calming Elizabeth's fears and talking away her objections. He succeeded in persuading her to move to America, and final arrangements were made. Witherspoon packed up the family's belongings along with three hundred books to add to the college library. The Witherspoons and their five surviving children arrived in Princeton, New Jersey, on August 12, 1768. The students and faculty had arranged a warm reception to make the family feel welcome in their new country. The Witherspoons were greeted a mile out of town and escorted the rest of the way. When they got to the college, the family saw a candle illuminating each window of the institution in celebration of their arrival.

Witherspoon was forty-five years old when he became the sixth president of the College of New Jersey at Princeton. He immediately went to work revising the college curriculum by adding the study of philosophy, history, and public speaking. Witherspoon insisted that his students master the English language so that they would be well equipped to take part in the political and social debates of the day. He introduced French as an elective for students who wanted to study a modern language, and he taught the classes himself. In addition to managing the college's affairs, Witherspoon taught a full load of courses and preached twice each Sunday.

John Witherspoon Suffered from Coronary Artery Disease and Hypertension Before Death at 77

Beloved actor John Witherspoon died of a heart attack while suffering from coronary artery disease, according to his death certificate.

The death certificate also names obesity and hypertension as underlying causes for his death, PEOPLE confirms. Witherspoon died on October 30 at 5:30 p.m. local L.A. time, according to the certificate. He was 77.

Witherspoon’s family first revealed the news in a statement posted on his Twitter account the same day. He died at his Home in Sherman Oaks, California.

“It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband and father John Witherspoon has passed away,” the tweet read.

“He was a legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you ‘POPS’ always & forever,” the statement concluded.

His family further opened up to Deadline after the announcement, saying, “We are all in shock, please give us a minute for a moment in privacy and we will celebrate his life and his work together. John used to say ‘I’m no big deal,’ but he was a huge deal to us.”


John Weatherspoon was born in Detroit, Michigan. He later changed his surname to "Witherspoon". John is one of 11 siblings. An elder brother, William, became a songwriter in Detroit for Motown, who may be best known for the single "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted", which became a hit for Jimmy Ruffin. Another sibling, Cato, was a longtime director of the PBS-TV Network/CH56 in Detroit for almost four decades. Their sister, Dr. Gertrude Stacks, is a evangelist and the pastor of a Pentecostal church in Detroit. The family is also related to songwriter and record producer Lamont Dozier.

John continued his passion for music and learned to play the trumpet and French horn.

Early Years and the College of New Jersey

John Witherspoon was born in Scotland and educated at the Haddington Grammar School. He acquired a Master of Arts from the prestigious University of Edinburgh in 1739 and then took a notion to study divinity. He then went on to become a Protestant minister at the Church of Scotland and was an avid supporter of republicanism. His views were radical in England and was opposed to the Roman Catholic Legitimist Jacobite rising. He was imprisoned after the Battle of Falkirk for a short time.

Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton me John Witherspoon in Scotland and asked if he would become President and head professor of the College of New Jersey. He at first turned down the opportunity and wished to stay at his home and congregation in Scotland, but would eventually emigrate to New Jersey in 1768 to become the sixth President of the College of New Jersey. From here is where Witherspoon made his greatest contribution to America.

He would begin his tenure at the College of New Jersey by putting in place a series of reforms. These reforms modeled the College of New Jersey off of the University of Edinburgh. He would also personally teach History, Eloquence, Divinity and Moral Philosophy. His ideas in Moral Philosophy were the most influential to his students. Witherspoon was an advocate of Natural Law within a Christian and Republican Cosmology. These ideas were revolutionary and were considered vital for lawyers, ministers and those holding public offices. Through this teacher he influenced many in those vocations. Some of the greater names were: James Madison and Aaron Burr. However, his influence was significant and it was more than just two of the main players in the early years of the republic.

His reforms for the College of New Jersey were broader than the classroom. In order to be able to have a dynamic classroom the college needed to first get out of debt and improve its library. Witherspoon did this by raising funds locally and in Scotland. This allowed him to buy the necessary equipment to better teach the students. The next reform that was put in place was to raise the bar for acceptance. The College of New Jersey would eventually go from a small private college that was in debt to rivaling the prestige of Harvard and Yale.


came to Usa on ship "Good Intent"

John Witherspoon was the son of David Witherspoon, who was the son of Rev. James Witherspoon and Lucy Welch. He married Janet Witherspoon in 1693 near Glascow. Janet Witherspoon was the daughter of James Witherspoon, another son of Rev. James Witherspoon and Lucy Welch. They settled at Knockbracken, Parish Drumbo, County Down, Ireland, where they lived until 1734, when they removed to South Carolina aboard the ship 'The Good Intent'. They had a large family of children, seven of whom came with them to S.C. On the second day after they set sail, Janet Witherspoon died and was buried at sea. Source: History of Williamsburg, Wm. W. Boddie.

Inscription John Witherspoon. Born near Glascow Scotland in 1670, removed to Ireland because of religious persecution and settled in County Down in 1695. In 1734 he, with his kindred and friends, came to America and settled near Kingstree in Williamsburg Township. He was the leading spirit in the erection of the first Williamsburg meeting house in 1736. He died in the fall of 1737 and was the first person buried in this graveyard. Of Covetnanter blood, a descendant of John Knox, he was a zealous adherent to the principles of the Presbyterian reformed church of Scotland. A man of deep piety, strong moral courage and a leader in the affairs of the community. This marker is erected by grateful descendants who unite in honoring and preserving his memory. Erected September 1958.

Biographical Sketch

John Witherspoon was born at Gifford, a parish of Yester, at East Lothian, Scotland, as the eldest child of the Reverend James Alexander Witherspoon and Anne Walker, a descendant of John Welsh of Ayr and John Knox. He attended the Haddington Grammar School, and obtained a Master of Arts from the University of Edinburgh in 1739. He remained at the University to study divinity.

Witherspoon was opposed to the Jacobite rising of 1745-46. Following the Jacobite victory at the Battle of Falkirk (1746), he was briefly imprisoned at Doune Castle, which had a long-term impact on his health.

He became a Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) minister at Beith, Ayrshire, serving there from 1745 to 1758, where he married Elizabeth Montgomery. They had ten children, only five surviving to adulthood.

From 1758-1768, he was minister of the Laigh Kirk, Paisley (Low Kirk). Witherspoon became prominent within the church as an Evangelical opponent of the Moderate Party. During his two pastorates he wrote three well-known works on theology, notably the satire "Ecclesiastical Characteristics" (1753) opposing the philosophical influence of Francis Hutcheson. He was awarded a Doctorate of Divinity from the University of St Andrews, Fife.

At the urging of Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton, whom he met in Paisley, Witherspoon finally accepted a second invitation to become president and head professor of the small Presbyterian College of New Jersey in Princeton. To fulfill this, he and his family emigrated to New Jersey in 1768. He became the sixth president of the college, now known as Princeton University. As the College's primary occupation at the time was training ministers, Witherspoon became a leader of the early Presbyterian church in America. Witherspoon also helped organize Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey.

Upon his arrival at then College of New Jersey, Witherspoon found the school in debt, with weak instruction and an outdated library. At once he began fund-raising, added three hundred of his own books to the library, and began the purchase of scientific equipment, including the Rittenhouse orrery, many maps and a "terrestial" globe. He also firmed up entrance requirements. These changes helped the school be more on par with Harvard and Yale, soon transforming the college into a school that would equip the leaders of a revolutionary generation. Many of his students, including James Madison, Aaron Burr, Philip Freneau, and John Breckenridge, would play prominent roles in the development of the new nation.

Considered firm but good-humored in his leadership, Witherspoon was very popular among both faculty and students. Some of the courses he taught personally were Eloquence or Belles Lettres, Chronology (history), and Divinity. Of his courses, none was more important than Moral Philosophy (a required course), which Witherspoon considered vital for ministers, lawyers, and those holding positions in government (magistrates). Witherspoon instituted a number of reforms, including modeling the syllabus and university structure after that used at the University of St. Andrews and other Scottish universities.

As a native Scotsman, long wary of the power of the British Crown, Witherspoon soon came to support the Revolution, joining the Committee of Correspondence and Safety in early 1774. His 1776 sermon "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men" was published in many editions and he was elected to the Continental Congress as part of the New Jersey delegation and, in July 1776, voted for the Resolution for Independence. In answer to an objection that the country was not yet ready for independence, according to tradition he replied that it "was not only ripe for the measure, but in danger of rotting for the want of it."

In John Trumbull's famous painting Declaration of Independence, Witherspoon is among those shown in the background facing the large table, the second seated figure from the viewer's right. Witherspoon served in Congress from June 1776 until November 1782 and became one of its most influential members and a workhorse of prodigious energy. He served on over 100 committees, most notably the powerful standing committees, the board of war and the committee on secret correspondence or foreign affairs. He spoke often in debate helped draft the Articles of Confederation helped organize the executive departments played a major role in shaping foreign policy and drew up the instructions for the peace commissioners. He fought against the flood of paper money, and opposed the issuance of bonds without provision for their amortization. "No business can be done, some say, because money is scarce," he wrote. He also served twice in the New Jersey Legislature, and strongly supported the adoption of the United States Constitution during the New Jersey ratification debates.

In November 1778, as British forces neared, Witherspoon closed and evacuated the College of New Jersey. The main building, Nassau Hall, was badly damaged and his papers and personal notes were lost. Witherspoon was responsible for its rebuilding after the war, which caused him great personal and financial difficulty.

In 1780 he was elected to a one-year term in the New Jersey Legislative Council representing Somerset County.

Witherspoon had suffered eye injuries and was blind by 1792. He died in 1794 on his farm Tusculum, just outside of Princeton, and is buried in the Princeton Cemetery. He was 71 when he died.

John Witherspoon

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John Witherspoon, (born Feb. 15, 1723, [Feb. 5, 1722, old style], Gifford, East Lothian, Scot.—died Nov. 15, 1794, Tusculum, N.J., U.S.), Scottish-American Presbyterian minister and president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) he was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence.

After completing his theological studies at the University of Edinburgh (1743), he was called to the parish of Beith in 1745 and in 1757 became pastor at Paisley. A conservative churchman, he frequently involved himself in ecclesiastical controversies, in which he proved himself a keen dialectician and an effective speaker. In 1768 he left Paisley to assume the presidency of the College of New Jersey. He was warmly received by the American Presbyterian Church and contributed significantly to its revitalization and growth. He was a vigorous college president, expanding the curriculum, providing scientific equipment, and working to increase the endowment and enrollment.

From his arrival, Witherspoon was an enthusiast about America, and in the dispute with the mother country he ranged himself uncompromisingly on the side of the colonists. He presided over the Somerset County Committee of Correspondence (1775–76), was a member of two provincial congresses, and was a delegate to the Continental Congress (1776–79, 1780–82), where in 1776 he was a persuasive advocate of adopting a resolution of independence.

Witherspoon wrote extensively on religious and political topics. His works include Ecclesiastical Characteristics (1753), Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament (1774), as well as numerous essays, sermons, and pamphlets.

Watch the video: The History and Theology of John Witherspoon (July 2022).


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