John Lowell Sires American Leaders

John Lowell Sires American Leaders

John Lowell was the patriarch of one of the most important families in early United States history.

Additionally, Lowell made recommendations during Massachusetts’ Constitutional Convention which led to the abolition of slavery in that State.

John Lowell

The Siege of Boston was over.  

The British left on ships bound for New York and with them went many prominent Loyalists. This created a power vacuum in the city.

John Lowell decided the time was right to move his family from Newburyport to Roxbury, just outside Boston.  From here he grew his law practice while becoming a city leader.

Massachusetts’ Constitution

Lowell had recently survived a scandal when he signed a letter supporting the Royal governor Thomas Gage.  Surprised by the blow-back, John offered a public apology and dedicated himself to the American Revolution.

After serving for a brief time in the Massachusetts militia, Lowell was elected to the General Assembly.  It was during this time when John was tasked with attending the convention which wrote the State Constitution.

Lowell’s most notable achievement in the creation of Massachusetts’ constitution was his recommendation that the State’s Bill of Rights include the phrase “All men are born free and equal.”  This language was soon used to discuss the legality of slavery in the State and within five years that institution would be totally abolished in Massachusetts.

Continental Congress

John was eventually sent by Massachusetts as a delegate to the Continental Congress.

During his two years with the Congress, Lowell participated in the end of the Revolutionary War.  This included discussions around the Treaty of Paris which officially halted hostilities.

Lowell was also present for George Washington’s resignation.


Lowell was then selected as a Justice for the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture.  This was the first time the federal government created a system of courts and John was the inaugural Judge for the northeastern portion of the United States.

During this time, Lowell became a delegate of the commission which, once and for all, decided on the boundaries between New York and Massachusetts (although they still did not take Vermont seriously).

When the Constitution came into effect, President Washington appointed John to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.  This positioned him as the final authority in his area before cases went to the Supreme Court.

After twelve years in this position, Lowell became one of the midnight judges appointed by John Adams in the final days of his presidency.  Adams created several new positions, including the United States Circuit Court for the First Circuit, which was given to Lowell.


Perhaps the largest influence John Lowell had on the Founding of the United States was not so much what he did, but who he raised.

John was the patriarch of the prestigious Lowell family.  His children, grand-children, and great-grand-children had a profound effect on the growth of the country.

Lowell’s lineage would produce several bankers and merchants who would assist in steering the direction of America for well over a century.  Additionally, some of his sons would open the first fabric factories. These factories ushered in the Industrial Revolution in the United States (Lowell, Massachusetts, which is famous as one of the first factory towns, received its name from one of John’s sons).

Lowell’s other decedents held many important positions.  Several followed in John’s footsteps by becoming Justices.  Others became famous authors, soldiers, teachers, and poets.  There were a surprising amount of poets.

To read about other Founders who were the patriarchs of notable families, check out our article on Roger Sherman.

If you would like to learn more about John Lowell and his decedents, pick up a copy of ‘The Lowells of Massachusetts’ from the Amazon affiliate link below.

Today is the Day!!!

I will be taking the Culper Spy Ring Tour in Setauket, NY this afternoon. Make sure you follow me on Instagram as I will be posting pictures throughout the day.

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