Gov. Meldrim Thomson's 'One Hundred Famous Founders'
Excellent for School or Private Libraries
Review By Dean Dexter
Former New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson's One Hundred Famous Founders
offers biographical sketches of all signers of both the Declaration of
Independence and US Constitution. Other heroes of the American Revolution
are also included, such as John Paul Jones, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry,
Joseph Warren, Molly Pitcher, James Otis and New Hampshire's own hero of
the Battle of Bennington, Gen. John Stark of Manchester.
This is Thomson's second book*, and is a must for any home, office or school
library because it brings together in one easy-to-read work the key players
of probably the most critical time in our nation's history.
Home schooling parents will find it especially useful as an addition to
existing material on the Revolutionary period. Unlike some resources used
by home schoolers, which are reprints of 18th century works in which the
copyrights have expired, this book on the Founders is fresh and insightful,
yet avoids the blandness, political correctness and revisionism that is
so prominent in many contemporary historical works.
Thomson presents each patriot with a brief, yet comprehensive outline of
his or her life and the circumstances surrounding the events of the period.
Because of Thomson's deep love for the Constitution, and the whole process
the colonies went through to bring about both independence and a new nation,
the reader can easily get a "feel" for who those people were,
the events swirling around them, and the prices they paid -- or were willing
to pay -- for what they believed.
Thomson, a lawyer, former law book publisher and newspaper columnist, took
five years to write the book, which is meticulously researched with illustrations
of every founder.
Although one sees portraits of the founders in gray hair and powdered wigs,
Thomson points out that those who "shaped and fashioned" our constitution
were relatively young.
"The youngest was Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey, for whom Dayton, Ohio,
was later named," writes Thomson, "He was only 26. Charles Pickney
of South Carolina was 29 and Alexander Hamilton of New York was 322 and
Gouverneur Morris was 35 ... Even James Madison, called in later years,
'The Father of the Constitution', was only 36 at the time."
Some fought duels, others stole gun powder for the revolutionary cause.
There were heroes and scoundrels, rich ones and poor ones, doctors, ministers,
farmers, and soldiers. Some paid with their lives.
There was Caesar Rodney from Delaware, for instance, who, by signing the
Declaration of Independence, understood he would be unable to return to
England for treatment of the cancer that would later kill him. Writes Thomson:
"By his vote for Independence this great patriot also knew that he
had literally signed his own death warrant."
New Hampshire is well represented in the book by Matthew Thornton, Josiah
Bartlett, William Whipple, Nicholas Gilman, John Langdon, and Gen. Stark.
Langdon, a wealthy Portsmouth ship builder, was the first presiding officer
of the U.S. Senate and the one who offered the Presidential oath of office
for the first time, to George Washington in 1789.
While earlier serving as Speaker of the New Hampshire House, Langdon is
shown rallying the legislature to send troops to fight the British under
Writes Thomson: "Langdon rose before the Members of the Legislature
and said in a stirring talk, 'I have $3000 in hard money, I will pledge
the plate in my house for $3000 more, and I have 70 hogsheads of Tobago
Rum which will be disposed of for what it will bring ... if we defend our
homes and our firesides I may get my pay; if we do not defend them the property
will be of no value to me."
Such was the Spirit of '76, and Thomson brings it alive in a skillfully
written, convenient format that readers of all ages will enjoy.
One Hundred Famous Founders, by Meldrim Thomson, Jr. (Governor
of NH, 1973-1979), published by Mt. Cube Farm, 406 pages, hardbound with
photographs and illustrations, with an introduction by U.S. Senator Bob Smith.
$25 postpaid. To order, call 603-353-4814.
*Thomson's first book, Live Free or Die, was published in 1979
(Equity-311 pages). "It consists of a melding of articles and speeches
given by the author before, during and immediately after his six years of
service as the 91st Governor of New Hampshire." -- From the Preface.