On December 21, 1767 an essay titled "Letter from a Farmer in Pennsylvania" appeared in the Boston Chronicle.  In the coming months, twelve more such letters would appear in newspapers throughout the American colonies.  The author of these letters was John Dickinson, whose essays on behalf of the American cause earned him the title of “Penman of the Revolution.”   To mark the 250th anniversary of the first publication of the Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, the University of Delaware Library is featuring the exhibition “John Dickinson: Penman of the Revolution” which is on view from September 6 through December 15, 2017

John Dickinson (1732-1808) was an attorney and politician who spent most of his career in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware.  As a member of the First Continental Congress, Dickinson wrote the majority of the 1774 Petition to the King, and as a member of the Second Continental Congress wrote the 1775 Olive Branch Petition, two attempts to negotiate with King George III. When these efforts failed, he reworked Thomas Jefferson's language and composed the final draft of the 1775 Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms. When Congress eventually decided to seek independence, Dickinson served on the committee that wrote the Model Treaty, and then wrote the first draft of the 1776–1777 Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.

“John Dickinson: Penman of the Revolution” celebrates the extraordinary career of John Dickinson and displays original editions of his published work, documents and letters, and secondary material. 


Curated by Timothy D. Murray.