At age 22 he became a sea captain, like his older brother Woodbury Langdon, sailing to the West Indies.
Then the British imposed trade restrictions with the Revenue Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765.
When John Langdon sailed his ship into Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the British seized his cargo of sugar and rum.
The British then imposed the Tea Act, provoking the Boston Tea Party, December 16, 1773.
The same day Portsmouth resolved to refuse all British ships from landing with tea.
King George III issued a royal order, October 19, 1774, banning the export of gunpowder and arms to America.
When word reached Portsmouth, John Langdon led 400 men to capture British Fort William and Mary in New Castle, seizing arms and 100 barrels of gunpowder.
In 1775, John Langdon was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress, as was later his brother, Woodbury Langdon.
In 1776, John Langdon oversaw the building of American warships, including the “Ranger,” which he recommended be captained by John Paul Jones.
Langdon was elected Speaker of the New Hampshire House, 1776-1782, where he championed fiscal responsibility of using silver and gold instead of paper currency.
When the British recaptured Fort Ticonderoga, Speaker John Langdon reportedly told the Legislature:
“I have 3,000 dollars in hard money. I will pledge the plate in my house for 3,000 more, and I have 70 hogsheads of Tobago rum which shall be disposed of for what it will bring. These and the avails of these are at the service of the state. If we defend our homes and our firesides, I may get my pay; if we do not defend them, the property will be of no value to me.”
Langdon built seven ships with which he raided British ships.
As a colonel, he led a voluntary company of soldiers to Saratoga, where he witnessed the surrender of British General Burgoyne.
He commanded soldiers in 1778 with John Sullivan’s army in Rhode Island.
In 1784, John Langdon was a State Senator and in 1785 he was elected President (Governor) of New Hampshire.
As President (Governor) of the State of New Hampshire, John Langdon issued A Proclamation for a Day of Public Fasting and Prayer. February 21, 1786:
“…that the citizens of this State may with one heart and voice, penitently confess their manifold sins and transgressions, and fervently implore the divine benediction, that a true spirit of repentance and humiliation may be poured out upon all orders and degrees of men, and a compleat and universal reformation take place…
that he would be pleased to bless the great Council of the United States of America, and direct their deliberations to the wise and best determinations…
and above all, that he would rain down righteousness upon the earth, revive religion, and spread abroad the knowledge of the true GOD, the Saviour of man, throughout the world.”
In 1786, John Langdon was chosen as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify, making the U.S. Constitution law, June 21, 1788.
Governor John Langdon wrote to George Washington:
“I have the great pleasure of informing your Excellency that this State has this day adopted the Federal Constitution…thereby placing the Key Stone in the great arch.”
In 1788, John Langdon was elected New Hampshire’s first U.S. Senator, traveling to the U.S. Capital in New York City.
The Senate elected him President of the Senate, where he counted the votes of the electoral college in the first national election.
Langdon informed George Washington that was elected President, and on April 30, 1789, he administered the oath of office to the nation’s first chief executive.
Returning to New Hampshire as Governor, John Langdon issued a Proclamation, October 10, 1805, acknowledging the nation’s victory over the Muslim Barbary Pirates of North Africa:
“It has been customary…to set apart a certain day…for…publicly recognizing their dependence upon Almighty God for protection, and that they might express their gratitude to Him for all blessings and mercies received and implore a continuance of them;-
I therefore…appoint Thursday, the 28th day of November…as a day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer…in praising and adoring Almighty God, and in offering up our thanks to Him as the great author of every good and perfect gift…
For the termination of our contest with one of the African powers; the liberation of our fellow-citizens from bondage…
But above all, for the inestimable blessings of the gospel of peace and salvation, the means of grace and hopes of future glory, through the merits of a crucified Savior. ..
That he would bless the means used for the promulgation of his word, and make pure religion and morality more and more abound.”
After retiring, John Langdon founded the New Hampshire Bible Society in 1812, four years before the American Bible Society was founded.
Serving as its first President, its goal was to put a Bible in every New Hampshire home.
John Langdon had been visited in 1817 by President James Monroe, as the newspaper reported:
“While at Portsmouth, the President spent that part of the Sabbath which was not devoted to public divine service, with that eminent patriot and Christian, John Langdon.
His tarry…was probably longer than the time devoted to any individual in New England.”
John Langdon died SEPTEMBER 18, 1819.
As Governor, John Langdon had issued a Proclamation, October 21, 1785:
“It therefore becomes our indispensable Duty, not only to acknowledge, in general with the rest of Mankind, our dependence on the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, but as a People peculiarly favoured, to testify our Gratitude to the Author of all our Mercies, in the most solemn and public manner…
To celebrate the Praises of our divine Benefactor; to acknowledge our own Unworthiness, confess our manifold Transgressions, implore his Forgiveness, and intreat the continuance of those Favours which he had been graciously pleaded to bestow upon us;
That he would…bless our Seminaries of Learning, and spread the Gospel of his Grace over all the Earth. And all servile Labour is forbidden on said Day.”
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.