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Taking his seat as one of New Jersey's delegates to the Second Continental Congress on June 28, 1776, the Reverend John Witherspoon, president of the College of New Jersey at Princeton, was quick to answer a colleague who thought the country was not ready for independence. "Sir, in my judgment the country is not only ripe for the measure," said Witherspoon in his heavy Scots burr, "but in danger of rotting for the want of it." A month earlier Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister, had changed his mind about the propriety of the clergy preaching about politics, proclaiming from his pulpit, "I willingly embrace the opportunity of declaring my opinion without any hesitation, that the cause in which America is now in arms, is the cause of justice, of liberty, and of human nature."

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