Archives > Historical Features > Exhibits > 18th Century


Portrait of Caspar WistarPortrait of Thomas WhitePortrait of Robert MorrisPortrait of Rev. Richard Peters


Read their stories...see their faces...

From Penn's founding in 1749 until the beginning of the next century, 122 men served as trustees of the institution in its varying institutional forms, from the Academy and Charity School of Philadelphia in 1749, to the College of Philadelphia in 1755, to the University of the State of Pennsylvania in 1779, and finally in 1791, as University of Pennsylvania. The biographies of these trustees (and of four men who served as clerks or secretary to the board) reveal the achievements and nature of these varied individuals, and also a glimpse into the 18th century world in which Penn began.


Discern the trends...

Were the trustees all men of wealth and status? What were their professions? How were these men connected by family, marriage and professional ties? How did they shape first the colonial economy and then the economy of the new nation? Were they all born in America? Were they educated in America?

Did Quakers or Episcopalians dominate the board of trustees? Was the board non-sectarian? How many clergymen were included?

What was the connection between the trustees and politics? How much influence was wielded by the Pennsylvania proprietors, the Penn family? What role did trustees play in the American Revolution? How did they shape the New Republic? How many held political offices? How did they align politically? How did they influence the law?


Engage in a scavenger hunt...

Who could beat Benjamin Franklin at chess?

Who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Who remained loyal to the king?

Who were imprisoned for debt? Who was jailed for assaulting Quaker elders?

Who designed the Seal of the United States?

Who owned slaves? Did anyone openly oppose slavery?

Who were NOT native English-speakers?

Did a father and son ever sit on the board simultaneously? Did two brothers ever do so?

Who were land speculators in "western" Pennsylvania?

Who died during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793?

Who fought in a duel?

Who was both an ordained clergyman and a combat officer?

Who asserted that drinking rum led to lead poisoning and why?

Who made a living as a brewer?

Whose mansion was the site of a Revolutionary War battle?

Who served as mayor of Philadelphia? Governor of Pennsylvania?



The 187 pages (including many biographies) of this exhibit were researched, written and created by Mary D. McConaghy, Michael Silberman, and Irina Kalashnikova. This exhibit first appeared on the Web in 2004, as part of the celebration of Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday.






School Divisions:

Special topics:


of all Trustees 1749-1800
* indicates Founder

Andrew Allen
John Allen
*William Allen
William A. Atlee
Joseph Ball
John B. Bayard
Charles Biddle
Edward Biddle
William Bingham
Robert Blackwell
John Bleakley
*Phineas Bond
*Thomas Bond
William Bradford
George Bryan
Edward Burd
John Cadwalader
Thomas Cadwalader
Samuel Campbell (clerk)
John Carson
Benjamin Chew
Gerardus Clarkson
George Clymer
*William Coleman
Nicholas Collin
David Conyngham
William Coxe
Alexander Dallas
John Dickinson
Jacob Duché
Andrew Elliot
John Evans
James Ewing
John Ewing
Ferdinand Farmer
Thomas Fitzsimons
Edward Fox (secretary)
George Fox
*Tench Francis
*Benjamin Franklin
P. F. Glentworth (clerk)
George Gray
James Hamilton
Robert Hare
Justus H.C. Helmuth
Henry Hill
Francis Hopkinson
Joseph Hopkinson
*Thomas Hopkinson
James Hutchinson
Jared Ingersoll
*John Inglis
James Irvine
David Jackson
Paul Jackson
Isaac Jones
John Jones (clerk)
Frederick Kuhl
John C. Kunze
Lynford Lardner
John Lawrence
*Thomas Lawrence
*Thomas Leech
William Lewis
*James Logan
*Joshua Maddox
*William Masters
Timothy Matlack
*Samuel McCall
Joseph B. McKean
Thomas McKean
John Mifflin
Thomas Mifflin
Samuel Miles
Robert Molyneux
William Moore
Benjamin R. Morgan
Robert Morris
Samuel Morris
Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg
John P.G. Muhlenberg
John Nixon
Isaac Norris
John Penn
Richard Penn
*Rev. Richard Peters
Hon. Richard Peters
Charles Pettit
*William Plumsted
James Potter
Samuel Powel
William Rawle
David Redick
John Redman
Joseph Reed
David Rittenhouse
George Ross
James Searle
John D. Sergeant
Edward Shippen
*William Shippen
Jonathan B. Smith
Matthew Smith
William Smith
James Sproat
John Sproat
Alexander Stedman
Samuel Sterret
Amos Strettell
*Robert Strettell
*Philip Syng
*Abram Taylor
Edward Tilghman
James Tilghman
*Joseph Turner
Thomas Ustick
Casparus D. Weiberg
*Thomas White
William White
Alexander Wilcocks
*Charles Willing
Thomas Willing
James Wilson
John H. Winckhous
Caspar Wistar
*Lloyd Zachary




Penn in the Age of Franklin
A web exhibit created jointly by the Penn University Archives and the Penn Libraries