James Hiller is the fourteen year old main character of the series. He is a patriot, and writes about the war to "tell the people what is really happening".
James was orphaned at a very young age due to a lighting strike on his childhood home that causes a fire. He was pulled out of the fire during a last minute rescue by a neighbor. It is unknown what happened to him between that time and the time he sought out Dr. Franklin, however it is mentioned briefly that he had grown up on the streets. After this, he went looking for Ben Franklin, as he was the inventor of the lightning rod, and and eventually became his apprentice.
James is headstrong, zealous in what he believes, sometimes stubborn, and not afraid to risk his life for a cause, mission, or to help someone (as shown in Midnight Ride and The Turtle). However, despite his tendencies for recklessness, James tries hard to be responsible and cares very deeply for his friends.
Sarah Phillips: James first met Sarah when the Boston Tea Party took place on the Dartmouth, the ship Sarah was travelling in to Philadelphia from England. The two didn't initially get along, as she right away disagreed with James about the colonies' desire for independence. However throughout the series, the two became very close friends. After reaching Philadelphia, James gives his late mother's ring — the single possession that he has of his parents —to Moses to make Sarah a replacement pendant for her precious locket, which she had lost in a skirmish with a Redcoat.
Throughout the series, it is a running tease that James and Sarah might harbor romantic feelings for each other, though this is never explicitly stated. On one occasion (set up by Henri), they had to act as an engaged couple so that James would not be kidnapped by the British navy.
Even though he tries to hide it, James really has a soft spot for Sarah, wanting to cheer her up when she is upset, and feeling the need to protect her from harm. In the episode "Captain Molly" James was worried about Sarah's safety during the battle; James was extremely saddened when he thought that she didn't make it only to see her unharmed and say to her "Thank goodness you're safe." with much relief.
When Sarah comes back from England in "In Praise of Ben," and she gave James a heartfelt hug, causing him to startle and become embarrassed from her affection. In more than one occasion James has been shown to become jealous of any man that takes a romantic interest in her such as the solider Udney Wolf-Hutchinson, during which he rolled his eyes and nicknamed Udney "Ugly." The two also share a level of physical closeness (such as James' frequently touching her shoulders) uncommon between other characters.
Henri Richard Maurice Dutoit LeFebrve: Henri was unofficially adopted by James and Moses when they rescued him from being a cabin boy on a ship and ever since then has treated him like a younger brother. Henri is always being watched over by James, making sure he doesn't find trouble or get into danger (although he does anyway).
When they are traveling, Henri is James and Sarah's little mouse that listens to secret conversations and distraction for gathering information. Henri is also James's assistant, helping him get what he needs and with the printing press along with Moses.
Benjamin Franklin: James's Mentor and employer. After his parents died when he was a baby due to their house burnt down from a lightning strike, James heard about Dr. Franklin, who had invented the lightning rod, and has worked at the Gazette ever since. James sees Ben as a role model, valuing his help for problems and for advice in stressful situations. Because of this, James decided that he would open his own newspaper and follow in his mentor's footsteps as a great journalist. He sees a lot of great things in Ben: a leader, and brave man and a father to all of America. James is ever grateful to Ben for kindness and acceptance of him be a apprentice.
Moses: James respects Moses and is his friend and guardian. Moses makes sure that James and the other kids don't get into trouble and stay out of danger at the request of Dr. Franklin. The two are very close, and have a father-son type bond. James often goes to Moses for advice and guidance. While other people see Moses as a slave, James sees Moses as a free and equal man.
- James is voiced by Chris Lundquist.
- The name James is derived from Jacob and means usurper or supplanter.
- At the end of the series, it is implied that he moved to upstate New York to start his own newspaper.