He became a vocal supporter for colonial autonomy and served New Jersey in the Continental Congress. Becoming the sole person in the clergy to sign the Declaration of Independence, Witherspoon consistently fought to ensure spiritual liberties in the newest state. He was likewise an influential teacher, with a number of his pupils happening to serve conspicuously in the new U.S. government.
From Haddington he went to the University of Edinburgh for his Master of Arts degree and then it absolutely was on to divinity school, which he completed at age 19. He soon visited the parish of Beith and became the local minister, moving to Paisley in 1757 to assume the function of pastor. He started serious writing around now, printing Ecclesiastical Features in 1753.
After several years in Paisley, during which time his ecclesiastic and intellectual reputation grew beyond the boundaries of his parish, Witherspoon was contacted by a number of prominent Americans to come across the Atlantic. As in the time clergymen were frequently the most knowledgeable individuals, Witherspoon was recruited to become the very first president of the College of New Jersey (later renamed Princeton University) by, amongst others, Richard Stockton and Benjamin Rush. Sadly, his wife’s fear of crossing the great ocean divide kept him from taking the place until 1768, at which time the couple made the move together.
It ended up being a visit by Benjamin Rush that convinced the Witherspoons to take the risk of emigrating to America, also it had been a move that could pay off nicely for Witherspoon as well as the school, as both succeeded with him at the helm. He was instrumental in enlarging the school’s program, fixing scientific equipment, and raising both the endowment as well as the registration. The success of the school turned Witherspoon into a favorite and powerful guy, and his writing on areas associated with the colonies got him added focus.
He also released a novel on the topic, Considerations on the Nature and Degree of the Legislative Power of the British Parliament, in 1774.
In November 1776, Witherspoon shut and evacuated the school’s campus as British forces closed in. They eventually resided in the region and damaged the school widely. In his later years, Witherspoon became completely blind because of injuries to his eyes, but his heritage was already safe: In the College of New Jersey, Witherspoon instructed an American president (James Madison) as well as a vice president (Aaron Burr), along with 39 representatives, 21 senators, 12 governors, nine Cabinet members and three Supreme Court justices.