Biography of Stephen Hopkins
Stephen Hopkins was a politician, Founding Father, and an early opponent of British colonial policies that restricted the rights of American colonists. He became involved in local politics at a young age and was eventually appointed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. He represented Rhode Island at the Albany Congress in 1754 and participated in the discussion about the Albany Plan of Union. When Parliament passed the Sugar Act in 1764, he wrote a pamphlet that criticized the law. In 1772, he has involved in the investigation of the Gaspee Affair and was critical of the British. Rhode Island elected him as a delegate to the First Continental Congress, where he helped write the Declaration and Resolves and he signed the Continental Association. In 1775, he was elected to the Rhode Island Committee of Safety and to the Second Continental Congress, and he signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1778, he participated in the process of writing the Articles of Confederation. By the time of his death in 1785, he was one of the most accomplished politicians of the American Revolution.
This painting by John Trumbull depicts the presentation of the Declaration of Independence to Congress. The detail (left) shows Hopkins, wearing his trademark hat. Image Source: Wikipedia.
5 Things to Know About Stephen Hopkins
- Hopkins was born on March 7, 1707, near Providence, Rhode Island, and died in Providence on July 13, 1785.
- Samuel Ward was also a delegate from New Hampshire to the Albany Congress. Ward and Hopkins became political rivals over the use of paper money. Ward favored specie — gold and silver — while Hopkins was an advocate of paper money.
- Hopkins played a significant role in Rhode Island’s role in the American Revolution. His pamphlet protesting the Sugar Act, “The Rights of the Colonies Examined,” was published by the Rhode Island General Assembly and distributed throughout the colonies.
- Hopkins was one of the oldest delegates to the First Continental Congress.
- Although he was a slave owner, he freed some of his slaves and introduced a bill to the Rhode Island Assembly in 1774 to prohibit the importation of more slaves into the colony.
Stephen Hopkins is important to the history of the United States because he was involved in so many key moments of the American Revolution and the pamphlet he wrote in 1764 helped form the ideas behind the concept of “No Taxation Without Representation.” He is also a Founding Father because he signed the Declaration of Independence.