Founding Father: Thomas Nelson
Thomas Nelson, Jr. was born at Yorktown, Virginia on December 26, 1738. He was the son of Elizabeth Burwell and William Nelson. Like many other people from Virginia, Thomas went to England to go to school. He went to Eton, a school from boys between the ages of 13-18, and afterward, he went to Christ’s College, which was at Cambridge University. Thomas Nelson graduated from in 1760, and then came back home to Virginia.
When Thomas Nelson came back home, he started to work at the family business. He was also elected to the Virginia House of Burgess while on his ship ride home.
On July 29, 1762, Thomas Nelson got married to Lucy Grymes. He had 11 children together with her. He kept his position at the House of Burgesses until it was closed in 1774 by the royal governor Dunmore. After this, Thomas Nelson helped send supplies to Boston by using his own money. He also helped set up a Yorktown tea party, which was similar to the Boston Tea Party.
Thomas Nelson became the York County’s representative of the general Convention which was in Williamsburg on August 1, 1774. The next year, Thomas Nelson returned for a second time to the general convention. Here, he wrote a resolution that helped the army.
In July 1755, he attended the third convention of Virginia, which was held in Richmond. That same month, Thomas became a colonel for a regiment in Virginia. The next month, Thomas Nelson has appointed a delegate to serve in the Second Continental Congress. In order to do this, he resigned as a colonel and took his Congress on September 13.
From then until May 1777, Thomas Nelson continued to represent Virginia in the council, where he was involved in many important committees. Nelson was respected by the other representatives because of his good judgment and liberal feelings. Not only did Thomas Nelson vote for independence for the colonies, but he also signed the Declaration of Independence. In May 1977, while he was in Congress, Nelson was attacked suddenly with some sort of mental disease. Afterward, it was a lot harder for him to think and remember things.
He decided to resign from his seat in Congress and go back to Virginia. When he started feeling a bit healthier, he became the commander in chief and brigadier general of the military. Here, he was very important to the country and to Virginia. He had enough money to help him support the military whenever they were struggling.
In 1781, Thomas Nelson became Governor of Virginia. Soon after, the French army attacked the town and he helped defend Virginia with his own money. When the Revolutionary War ended, Thomas Nelson did not have much money left. Unfortunately, the government never paid him back for the money he put towards winning the war. He became very sick that year and could not be Governor any more, so he stepped down. Thomas Nelson went to live with his son, until he passed away on January 4, 1789.
Fun Facts for Kids about Thomas Nelson
• During the Yorktown Tea Party, Thomas Nelson helped throw two half-chests of tea into the York River.
• Thomas Nelson is a descendant of King Henry III.
• When Thomas Nelson’s father died, Thomas received 20,000 acres of land and over 400 slaves.
• You can still see damage from cannons that shot into Nelson’s house during the battle of Yorktown.
• Thomas Nelson was born on December 26, which makes him a Capricorn.