Whipple House - Kittery, ME
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
N 43° 05.160 W 070° 44.049
19T E 358848 N 4771824
This house was the birthplace of William Whipple, one of the first signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was a member of the Continental Congress and held a number of important positions in his career.
Waymark Code: WME15M
Location: Maine, United States
Date Posted: 03/19/2012
Published By:Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 5

The following are excerpts from the writings of Blaine Whipple, a distant relative of William.


William Whipple was born 14 January 1730 in Kittery, Maine and died 28 November 1785 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He married his cousin Katharine Moffatt at Portsmouth abt. 1769. His early career was at sea where he was Captain of his own ship at age 21. He left the sea and entered the mercantile business in Portsmouth with his two younger brothers, Robert and Joseph. He was active in Portsmouth affairs and represented the city in the Colonial Legislature, the Colony when it formed an independent governing body, and served in the Continental Congress from 29 February 1776 to 25 September 1779.

After leaving Congress he was New Hampshire’s first Federal Tax Collector and Judge and President of the Court to try the first case heard under the Articles of Confederation. He again represented Portsmouth in the Legislature and the State as Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature.

William was one of the 56 signers of the Declaration. He fought for his country with ideas in the Congress and on the battlefield with indomitable will. His service on key Congressional Committees was constant, steady, and preserving. He was among the hardest working members of a Congress that lacked a bureaucracy to carry outs its directives. He was 46 when he voted to declare independence from England.

In March 1776, Whipple joined the Qualifications Committee which recommended appointment to offices other than military. He was named to the Cannon Committee in April and to the Secret Committee in November.

That Congress recognized his military insight is evidenced by his appointment to many special committees dealing with military matters. In March 1776, he, Richard Henry Lee and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina were the Committee to work with Gen. Charles Lee on “the best methods of defending New York.”

George Washington’s request in May 1776 for arms was referred to Whipple, Sam Adams of Massachusetts, George Wythe of Virginia, Caesar Rodney of Delaware, and R.H. Lee. This Committee also conferred with the Chiefs of the Six [Indian] Nations who had come to Philadelphia at the request of Congress.

He Chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee when France pressured the Congress in January 1779 to decide on issues critical to a Peace Conference with England. Whipple’s Committee decided that negotiations could only begin after Great Britain acknowledged “the absolute and unlimited liberty, sovereignty and independence” of the United States in matters of government and commerce.

William left Philadelphia for New Hampshire June 18, 1777 the day after Congress authorized a national flag with 13 stripes, alternately red and white, to represent the states; and 13 stars, white in a blue field, to represent the Union. He delivered orders to John Paul Jones naming him commander of the Ranger, launched in Portsmouth. It was the first warship to fly the flag. While home, the Legislature appointed him Brigadier General of the Militia, giving him command of the First Brigade with general orders to protect the seacoast.

He played a major role in the Battle of Saratoga (New York) which historians have ranked as one of the most decisive in history as it changed the course of the Revolution by bringing France into the war on America’s side.

Whipple refused to accept his fourth election to the Congress or an appointment to the newly created Board of Admiralty created by Congress to shape and run the Navy and returned to New Hampshire where he accepted appointment to one of the country’s most difficult and unpopular jobs, the state’s federal tax collector. He also accepted appointment as a federal judge and President of the court that heard the dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut over the Wyoming Valley. He was a Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court of Judicature from Jan. 20, 1783 until his death Nov. 28, 1785.

New Hampshire historian Richard Francis Upton, in evaluating the various Delegates representing the state, placed William first and labeled him “one of the most popular and respected members of Congress. His was the New Hampshire voice most often raised in Congressional debates, and it was a voice listened to, especially on marine, foreign affairs, and public administration issues.”

Street address:
88 Whipple Rd.
Kittery, ME United States

County / Borough / Parish: York County

Year listed: 1979

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Architecture/Engineering,Event

Periods of significance: 1875-1899

Historic function: Domestic

Current function: Domestic

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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