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What Bartlett left: A Founding Father mostly forgotten

July 19. 2014 9:00PM


Josiah Bartlett's home is on the market. In real life, not on television. The story of the sale reminded us that what most people do not know about the real Josiah Bartlett is a lot more interesting than anything fans of "The West Wing" might know about that TV show's fictional President of the same name.

Last weekend, Ruth and Dale Albert of Kingston put their home up for sale. It just happens that their home belonged to Josiah Bartlett, the second signer of the Declaration of Independence and probably the first delegate in the Contintental Congress to vote for independence from Great Britain.

According to the Realtor, the home has been in the Bartlett family since it was built, and this is the first time it has ever been put on the open market. Among the artifacts inside the private residence are medical instruments owned by Bartlett, who was a well-known medical doctor (he treated Gen. John Stark's casualties from the Battle of Bennington).

There are a lot of 18th century homes remaining in New Hampshire, particularly East of Concord. If only they could talk. Bartlett's would tell some amazing stories. It is no accident that Bartlett, who moved to Kinston in 1750, built this home in 1774, the same year he joined the local Committee of Correspondence and was elected to the Provincial Congress, both illegal organizations. (Boston's Committee of Correspondence was the force behind the Boston Tea Party.) "Arsonists, possibly Loyalists, burned his house to the ground" in 1774, according to the National Archives.

Bartlett had been appointed a justice of the peace and a militia commander by Royal Governor Benning Wentworth. He had been a selectman and a member of the assembly. He was one of the most prominent men in the area. He became one of New Hampshire's most prominent revolutionaries and governor from 1790-1794. He did not say much at the Continental Congress, but his vote for independence and his signature (a death warrant, if he had been captured) spoke loudly enough.

In our busy lives in this still (mostly) free country, it is easy to forget how blessed New Hampshire was to have been served by patriots, including Bartlett, who risked everything and lost much to leave a free and independent nation for their descendants. In the Granite State, we are fortunate to have some remaining physical reminders of the remarkable lives of these men and women.

We hope that the new owner of the Bartlett home is as devoted a caretaker of this historic home as his family has been.

A United States that forgets its founders is one that will soon lose its liberty.

New Hampshire Politics History Editorial

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