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Thomas Nelson

 Thomas Nelson

Thomas Nelson, also known as Governor Nelson, was a notable Virginian who played a significant role in American history. He was one of the founding fathers of the United States of America and played an instrumental role in the revolutionary war that led to the country’s independence. More than that, his contributions later earned him the honor of becoming the Governor of Virginia.

Early Childhood, Education & Family

Thomas Nelson was born to a wealthy family in Yorktown, Virginia, on December 26th, 1738. His father, William Nelson, was the governor of Virginia from 1760 until his passing in 1772. His mother, Elizabeth Burwell, was also a member of the prominent Burwell family of Virginia. 

Growing up, Thomas Nelson was well-educated and exposed to vast opportunities. His father’s position as governor gave him access to the best schools in Virginia and even sent him to Eton College in England, where he acquired Latin and the classical knowledge expected of a gentleman of his caliber. Upon returning home, Thomas Nelson’s family sent him on a tour of Europe, where he furthered his education while enjoying France, Italy, and other countries on the continent.


Upon returning home to Virginia, Thomas Nelson worked alongside his father in politics and became a proponent for the American Revolution. In 1774, he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses and played a crucial role in shaping the colonies’ revolutionary ideas concerning taxation and liberty. At the 1775 Second Continental Congress, Nelson supported and signed the “Olive Branch Petition,” asking King George III for peace with the colonies. However, King George III refused to take the petition seriously, and war followed.

Nelson was elected to the position of lieutenant colonel in the Virginia Militia in 1775 and later rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Continental Army. He was involved in many battles, including the battles of Yorktown, Brandywine, Germantown, and Saratoga, which were all instrumental in the downfall of the British army. 

Yorktown marks a vital moment in Nelson’s life, as his contribution of five hundred thousand dollars allowed General George Washington to procure funds to provide his troops with the necessary provisions. Indeed, it was reported that Thomas Nelson mortgaged his entire estate to raise the funds required to finance the army. This sacrifice earned him the distinction of being the only colonial governor to take up arms against the British during the revolution, becoming a hero in the eyes of the people.

As a result of his notable contributions to the American Revolution, Thomas Nelson was appointed one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence, further cementing his place in American history. He also held positions in the Virginia General Assembly, serving as its President before becoming Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As Governor of Virginia, he worked tirelessly to improve the lives of citizens by ensuring that the state remained independent and prosperous. He was particularly concerned about the status of slaves in Virginia and supported their acquisition of freedom and training.

When Governor Nelson was contacted to aid in the War of 1812, he was eager to help, even though he had already retired from public office. Unfortunately, Nelson’s health and age hindered him from being as active as he would have liked.

Thomas Nelson died on January 4th, 1789, a few months after Virginia became the tenth and final state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. At his death, Nelson’s estate, which included several thousands of acres of land, was bequeathed to his son, Hugh Nelson. 


In conclusion, Thomas Nelson is a significant figure in American history, and his contributions to the country have earned him a tremendous amount of respect and admiration. As governor of Virginia, he dedicated his time to ensuring that the state was independent, prosperous, and free. His sacrifice during the American Revolution allowed him to leave an indelible mark in history, proving that he was dedicated to the service and prosperity of the American people. He was a true patriot, embodying the spirit of America’s founding fathers.

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.