Hugh Williamson Gets Thrown A Surprise Tea Party

Hugh Williamson Gets Thrown A Surprise Tea Party

Hugh Williamson is best known as a signer of the United State Constitution.

This story, however, takes place twenty-five years earlier.

Williamson was a young doctor who had a precarious relationship with Benjamin Franklin when, on his way to Europe, he happened to stop in Boston and witness a famous Tea Party. 


Hugh Williamson

By 1773, Hugh Williamson had studied theology, taught mathematics at the College of Philadelphia and become a practicing physician. 

He was also a well known writer on various academic topics whose intelligence had received some fame across the ocean. 

Williamson was on his way to England in an effort to raise money for several projects and promote a common use of measurements when he rode into Boston to await his ship.

Hugh was not expecting to see a crowd of men dressed like Native Americans show up at the docks and dump tea into the bay.

On that cold December evening, he was one of the few out-of-towners to witness the Boston Tea Party.


An Old Rival

Two days later, Williamson’s ship sailed for England.

As this was the first vessel to leave for the Mother Country, Huge was among the people who brought the breaking news of Boston’s transgressions.

Additionally, Williamson carried with him correspondence from Thomas Cushing which was meant for Benjamin Franklin

Hugh being entrusted with the letter is no surprise, as Williamson and Franklin knew each other. Unfortunately, the two men were from rival political factions in colonial Philadelphia. In fact, Hugh had once written several pamphlets attacking Franklin and his ideas.

Suddenly, they were on the same team.


Petitioning Parliament

Williamson and Franklin put their past disagreements aside immediately.

They rallied the other Americans in London and signed a petition against the Boston Port Bill which was the harsh response Parliament issued in reaction to the Tea Party. Other notable future Founders who signed the petition include Thomas Pinckney, Henry Laurens, Arthur Lee, William Lee, Ralph Izard and Edward Bancroft.

Although Franklin would rush home shortly thereafter, Hugh stayed in Europe to finish his original mission.


Further Founding

Hugh Williamson learned of American independence while in Great Britain. 

When he returned home, he relocated to North Carolina to assist in smuggling medicine through the British naval blockade. He started a new medical practice, served as Surgeon General of his new State and was selected to attend the Continental Congress.

After the Revolutionary War ended, Williamson attended the Philadelphia Convention and signed the United States Constitution.

In his final act of public service, he became an inaugural member of the US Senate.


If you’d like to learn about another North Carolinian who signed the Constitution, check out this article:

Richard Dobbs Spaight Overcomes Defeat

As a signer of the Constitution, it is not surprising that Williamson has a biography about him..

‘Physician, Patriot and Founding Father’ is the only modern biography of this man. though I have not yet read it, Williamson’s life had some many interesting stops along the way I recommend you learn more about him.

If you’d like a copy you can get one through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

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