Samuel Huntington Home

Samuel Huntington Home

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Plaque sponsored by the Gernon Trust

Located on 34 East Town Street

Lawyer, judge, diplomat, and President of the Continental Congress, Samuel Huntington left an indelible mark on the history of Norwich and the United States. His life reflected the independence and ambition of a growing nation. He saw Norwich change from a colonial possession to membership within a republic larger than any nation in Europe.

A descendent of Norwich’s founding fathers, Huntington was born in Scotland, Connecticut in 1731. From an early age, Huntington displayed intelligence and a desire to do more than was expected of him. While apprenticed as a cooper, he made time to teach himself Latin. This zest for learning caught the attention of Rev. Ebenezer Devotion, who urged young Samuel to continue his education, by allowing him access to his extensive library and introducing him to Eliphalet Dyer and Jedediah Elderkin. Prominent lawyers and patriots, these men shaped Huntington’s future by schooling him in the law. Passing the bar exam in 1758, Huntington soon married Martha Devotion (daughter of Re. Ebenezer), and moved to Norwich in 1760. Four short years later, he was elected as Norwich’s representative to the Connecticut General Assembly. A year later, he rallied his constituents to stand firm against the dreaded Stamp Act.

Over the next twenty years Huntington’s reputation for fairness and integrity grew. He was appointed superior court judge and justice of the peace. In 1775, he was named a delegate to the Continental Congress. Professional growth was matched by personal growth when he adopted three of his relative’s children and raised them as his own.

The many years of dedicated service resulted in Huntington being elected President of the second Continental Congress from 1779-1781. His service as President of the Continental Congress coincided with the ratifications with the Articles of the Confederation and Perpetual Union, our first Constitution, which declared that whoever is President of the Continental Congress shall serve as President of the United States.

On March 1, 1781 Maryland became the final state to ratify the Articles of Confederation, thus making Norwich’s Samuel Huntington the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled. This is and undeniably true fact.

Unfortunately, due to health problems, Huntington tried to retire from public service later in 1781, but was to continue in elected public office. In 1784, he became Connecticut’s Chief Justice, and in 1786, Governor of Connecticut, a post he would occupy for ten years. A testament of his popularity as Norwich’s adopted son was that in his last election for governor, he received all 900 votes from Norwich’s eligible voters. Huntington died on January 5, 1796 at age 64.

His home on East Town Street, built in 1783, is a reflection of a modest man who achieved greatness as Governor, Chief Justice, President of the Continental Congress and first President of the United States of America under the Articles of Confederation in Congress Assembled.

Samuel Huntington Tomb

Samuel Huntington Tomb

This tomb is the final resting place of Samuel Huntington and his wife

Plaque sponsored by Bill and Peg Stanley

Located in the Colonial Cemetery

This tomb is the final resting place of Samuel Huntington and his wife, Martha, born July 16, 1731 in what is now Scotland, Connecticut. He was self-educated and became an attorney. His first law practice was in Willimantic. He later moved to Norwich in 1861 as Norwich was more affluent.

He was a delegate from Connecticut to the Continental Congress and one of only 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He served as President of the Continental Congress from 1779-1781 and was Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court from 1784-1785, and Governor of Connecticut from 1786 until his death, January 5, 1796.

The tomb was found to be in disrepair in 2002, and a drive led by Bill Stanley restored the tomb at a cost of $130,000 in cash and in-kind services. It was during the restoration that it was discovered Samuel Huntington actually was the first President of the United States under our first Constitution, the Articles of the Confederation which stated whoever serves as President of the Continental Congress in Congress Assembled shall also serve as President of the United States.

Samuel Huntington was President of the Continental Congress on March 1, 1781 when Maryland became the last of the 13 colonies to ratify the Articles of the Confederation. Because Samuel Huntington was then President of the Continental Congress when America became a nation for the first time he was automatically the first President of the United States under our first Constitution, the Articles of the Confederation in Congress Assembled.