He moved to Kingston in 1750 to begin his career in medicine. He boarded with Rev. Joseph Seccombe who had the custody of an extensive library. Bartlett used this opportunity to acquire vast knowledge, both, from his interactions with Rev. Seccombe and through the use of his library.
He was only 21 at the time he began his practice, but soon became a well-known doctor due to his expertise. At that time, he was the only doctor in the small settlement of Kingston, and hundreds of families depended upon him for medical care.
In 1752, he had a raging fever which threatened to take his life. Going against the conventional practice of those days to keep a patient away from cool liquids, he insisted on drinking cool cider at regular intervals which ultimately cured him.
Kingston was struck by an epidemic of diphtheria, known as ‘throat distemper’ at that time, which killed over 100 people. Small children were especially susceptible to this disease. He used a new procedure, using Peruvian bark and other medicines to successfully treat the patients.
In 1757, he was made the town selectman and he earned the trust and respect of his fellowmen due to his concern for public welfare. He actively participated in public affairs and was known to be a man of high moral principles.
He was elected as a member of the New Hampshire Provincial Assembly to represent Kingston in 1765.
The Royal Governor, John Wentworth made him the justice of peace in 1767. He also became a colonel of his country’s seventh military regiment. The underlying motive behind Bartlett’s appointment by the Governor was to enlist his support for the Royalist cause.
Bartlett was a patriot who supported colonial interests, and opposed the policies of the British government. This brought him in conflict with John Wentworth who had hoped to procure the doctor’s support for Royalist cause.
In 1774, he joined the Committee of Correspondence of the Provincial Assembly, which was at that time deemed illegal. There he came into correspondence with other patriots from different colonies, the most notable of them being Samuel Adams.
Continue Reading Below
Some of his opponents burned down his house, but even that could not deter this fervent patriot from working for the cause he believed in. He shifted his family and rebuilt the house.
All the positions he held under the Royal government were cancelled by 1775.
He was selected as a delegate to the Continental congress in 1775 and again in 1776. Being the only delegate from New Hampshire, he served on all the committees including Safety, Munitions, Secrecy and Civil Government. Later on other delegates were added.
On 4 July 1776, Bartlett was the first to vote for independence, and on 2 August 1776, he was second person to sign the Declaration Independence, after John Hancock.
In 1777, he accompanied John Stark’s forces to the Battlle of Bennington as a physician to tend to injured and sick soldiers.
Even though he was not a professional lawyer, he was made a judge of the common pleas in 1779. He served in this position till 1782 when he was appointed an associate justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
He was chosen as the Chief Justice of the state supreme court in 1788.
Due to advancing age and health problems, he was unwilling to take any more positions, but in 1790 he was elected as the Chief Executive of New Hampshire. After serving for four years he retired in 1794.