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What did the Founding Fathers want?

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posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:19 AM
Did they intend to bind themselves down with chains of the Constitution? Did they want a small limited government?

How much do we know about the men who wrote the rule of law, other than as a vague grouping of extraordinarily wise men who fought for freedom and won?

It occurred to me that we probably don’t know as much as we should because, as always, we’ve been short changed by revisionist text books. So it seems like a good time to rectify this lack of knowledge since our current batch of “fathers” in Washington often act more like spoiled children and “wise guys” than men wise enough to be somebody’s father. What happened between then and now? Did the founder’s gift of perpetual liberty and independence die of old age, was it killed, or was it doomed from the starting gate?

Seventy four men from the thirteen colonies were chosen to attend the convention. Of that number only fifty five actually attended and just thirty nine signed the document. Even that’s a huge number of human beings to outline, so please be patient as it will take several postings to cover even a smattering of it.

Of the 39 signers, how many could you name without looking? Probably not very many. So here they are, with excerpts about each one, some more detailed than others, but links have been provided for further reading.

New Hampshire:

John Langdon ~ was a fourth generation American, a member of an old and established New Hampshire family. With the help and guidance of his brother and a prominent merchant named Daniel Rindge, John Langdon's career moved rapidly. He was a sea captain at the age of 22, sailing Rindge's sloops and brigantines over the Atlantic trade routes. John Langdon enjoyed the dashing life of a sea captain and being alert and ambitious, he did a little speculating of his own along with his regular duties. He was developing a good business mind and a start on his own fortune. (editorial comment: “speculating on his own” is a euphemism for doing a little pirating on the side.)

John Langdon resigned from Congress to accept the lucrative position of agent of (captured) prizes for the colony of New Hampshire. He took charge of the sale of all prizes brought into Portsmouth and amassed a fortune on the side by outfitting several privateers of his own.

Nicholas Gilman ~ was born into a wealthy, illustrious and politically connected family. He was a shipbuilder and merchant prior to the revolution. During the war he served in the army six years, joining Washington's staff in 1778 as senior deputy adjutant general.

The Gilman home was purchased from Nathaniel Ladd in 1752 and it became the NH state treasury when Nicholas was appointed treasurer in 1775 by the provincial government. It was here that bills were paid, currency signed to make it legal tender, and receipts kept in a black iron chest. This ponderous strongbox with its huge key remains in the same room today.

Rufus King ~ the family fortunes were devastated in 1766 when local Patriots, dubbed Sons of Liberty, ransacked the family home in Massachusetts because of King’s father’s loyalist views.

Rufus was admitted to the bar in 1780 and opened a practice in Newburyport. Although short-lived, his military career was important to his development as a national leader and helped him cement relations with a group of men who would become future leaders of the Federalist party.

Nathaniel Gorham~ was the sixth President of the United States under the Articles of Confederation.

Nathaniel Gorham's occupations included merchant, speculator, public security and real estate interests. His interests in real estate led to his insolvency and fall from high esteem just two years after he and Oliver Phelps (and perhaps others) of Windsor, Connecticut contracted to purchase from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts six million acres of unimproved land in western New York for one million dollars in devalued Massachusetts scrip. They quickly cleared Indian title to 2,600,000 acres in the eastern section of the grant and sold much of it to settlers. They were unable to make their payments by 1790 and met with financial ruin.

Roger Sherman ~ was born of humble origins. As a youth, he worked as a cordwainer and cobbler on the family farm in Stoughton, Mass. In 1743 he moved to New Milford, Conn., where he was variously employed as a surveyor, storekeeper, almanac compiler, and lawyer. He also began his long career as a public official serving as juryman, deacon, town clerk, school committeeman, justice of the peace, assemblyman, and commissary officer for the Connecticut militia.

Sherman was later a member of the upper house of the Connecticut Legislature (1766-1785) and as a judge of the superior court (1766-1789), while also acting as treasurer of Yale College, from which he received an honorary master's degree in 1768.

Though Sherman consistently sought to strengthen the powers of Congress, he went to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 convinced that it would suffice to "patch up" the Articles of Confederation. He fought to uphold the supremacy of state legislatures but in the end helped devise the "Great Compromise,"(providing for a dual system of congressional representation) approved the Constitution, and defended it in the ratification debates. (editorial note. Afterward, however, he authored the book “Caveat Against Injustice” as a warning against government encroachment. )

William Samuel Johnson As tensions between England and the American colonies deepened, Johnson, considering himself a moderate Whig, opposed all of the major regulatory and taxing acts of Parliament but was dismayed by the prospect of the colonies separating from The British Empire. In 1765 he was willing to serve as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress.

Refusing to take the required oath of allegiance to Connecticut's revolutionary and independent government, in November 1777 he was forced to relinquish his legal practice. In 1783 he took an oath of fidelity to the state and was permitted to return to his home and family.

After peace came in 1783 he made one of the greatest political comebacks in Connecticut's history. He was chosen an assistant; Connecticut's counsel in the settlement of the Susquehannah land dispute; delegate to Congress; member of the Connecticut delegation to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the Connecticut ratifying convention of 1788; and United States senator.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:20 AM
New York:
Alexander Hamilton ~ (Pretty much a rags to riches story.) His experience as bookkeeper in his mother's store landed him a job as a clerk with the international trading firm of Nicholas Cruger, a New Yorker whose business hub was on St. Croix. Under Cruger's tutelage, Hamilton mastered the intricacies of global finance and experienced firsthand how the material interests of peoples and countries interwove in the complicated fabric of international trade.

Hamilton had become a marked man because of his quick ascent out of nowhere to become Washington's closest and most trusted assistant. Most of Washington's communications were written in Hamilton's hand; and when someone wanted to get to Washington, they knew their best route was through Hamilton.

Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler. The Schyuler family was one of the wealthy Dutch dynasties of New York. Elizabeth's father, Major General Philip Schuyler [Saratoga], was acquainted with Hamilton and was delighted with the match, despite the fact that Hamilton was penniless and propertyless. Not inconsiderable was the fact that the marriage would be a mutually beneficial arrangement. Schuyler had a feeling that Hamilton would go far and was willing to give him a push if necessary; although it turned out that Hamilton ended up doing most of the pushing.

(In regard to new government powers) Hamilton suggested revenue sources – securing a foreign loan, a money tax on business, and a tax in kind on farmers. He expounds upon turning the public debt to the nation’s advantage; creating an economy based on paper money; and dwells at length on the founding of a national bank which would be established by the investments of “monied men of influence” who would “relish the project and make it a business.”

The entire story would be advisable.

New Jersey:
William Livingston ~ came from a wealthy family and benefited from private tutors for his education through the equivalent of our current high school level. He entered Yale University in 1738, and graduated in 1741, when he was only 18 years old. In 1748, Livingston was admitted to the bar and opened a law practice in New York City, where he became known as a strong supporter of civil rights, specifically freedom of religion and freedom of the press.
Livingston married Susannah French, the daughter of a wealthy New Jersey land owner. In 1772, the Livingston family moved to Elizabethtown [now Elizabeth], New Jersey where they built a large country home to house their growing family. The house known as Liberty Hall still stands there today. One of the Livingston daughters, Sarah, married a young New York lawyer by the name of John Jay. John Jay was also a Dutch American who became prominent in the birth and development of these United States, serving as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and also serving as the first Secretary of State under President George Washington.
In 1776, Livingston became the first republican governor of New Jersey. There had been a crown governor before him during the colonial period. Livingston remained governor of New Jersey until his death in 1790, a time period of 14 years. The long time period was especially impressive because he had to be re-elected each year. Four year terms had then not been considered yet.
William Livingston served his country well during the tumultuous period of the American Revolution. He was a man of considerable wealth, and could have avoided the turmoil of the time, by escaping to his land holdings. He did the opposite, and used his considerable talents to fight for independence, and later for the development of the new republic into an effectively governed nation.

David Brearley ~ presided at the New Jersey convention that ratified the Constitution in 1788, and served as a presidential elector in 1789 that chose George Washington. That same year, President Washington appointed him as a federal district judge, and he served in that capacity until his death. Brearly devoted much energy to lodge and church affairs. He was one of the leading members of the Masonic Order in New Jersey, as well as state vice president of the Society of the Cincinnati, an organization of former officers of the Revolutionary War.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:22 AM
William Patterson ~ studied law and was accepted to the bar in 1769. In 1775, he was chosen to represent Somerset County in New Jersey's Provincial Congress. During the Revolutionary War he served New Jersey as a member of the legislative council and was also a member of the Council of Safety (1777-78) which developed and managed New Jersey's military forces for the war. William Paterson was a member of the Somerset County battalion of Minutemen, but he never saw active service.
William Paterson was also an attorney general during this time (1776-1783). As attorney general, William Paterson prosecuted Loyalists and helped to maintain order during a turbulent period in American History.

Jonathan Dayton ~ represented New Jersey at the Constitutional Convention. He believed that government should defend individual freedoms, but within the framework of an established social hierarchy. He was convinced that a strong central government was needed to guide and protect the new nation, and was in fact the only means by which organizations essential to future prosperity-including a professional army-could operate efficiently while remaining securely under the people’s control.

Dayton's father, Elias, was a militia officer in the French and Indian War who returned home to prosper as a merchant and colonial official. Dayton was clearly influenced by his family's position in the community and his father's ideas about government. Both men, like most Americans of their day, believed that the average citizen should defer to the views of his "betters".

Dayton came home from the war to assume important responsibilities in the family's mercantile business and to study law. Although a political neophyte, his prominence in the community, his war record, and his father's influential connections led quickly to a role in state government.

He worked closely with Hamilton, his former schoolmate, on financial policy. He also was instrumental in organizing Congress' response to the threat posed by the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion, and he marshaled the votes needed to approve the Jay Treaty that settled with Britain issues left over from the Revolution. He spent his last four years in Congress as Speaker of the House.

Dayton had invested heavily in land speculation in the Ohio region, owning claims to nearly a quarter of a million acres (a town in Ohio would be named for him). This involvement led him to loan money to his other old classmate, Aaron Burr. When illegal activities by Burr were unveiled in 1807, Dayton also fell under suspicion. Although exonerated by a grand jury, Dayton suffered from a guilt by association that effectively ended his political career.

Like Washington, he enjoyed describing himself as a "simple farmer," but like the Virginia aristocrat, he enjoyed the benefits of a family with strong political and financial connections.

Benjamin Franklin ~ was the tenth son of a soap and candlemaker. He received some formal education but was principally self-taught. After serving an apprenticeship to his father between the ages of 10 and 12, he went to work for his half-brother James, a printer. In 1721 the latter founded the New England Courant, the fourth newspaper in the colonies. Benjamin secretly contributed 14 essays to it, his first published writings.

In 1730 Franklin took a common-law wife, Deborah Read, who was to bear him a son and daughter, and he also apparently had children with another nameless woman out of wedlock. By 1748 he had achieved financial independence and gained recognition for his philanthropy and the stimulus he provided to such civic causes as libraries, educational institutions, and hospitals. Energetic and tireless, he also found time to pursue his interest in science, as well as to enter politics.

At the Constitutional Convention, though he did not approve of many aspects of the finished document and was hampered by his age and ill-health, he missed few if any sessions, lent his prestige, soothed passions, and compromised disputes.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:24 AM
Thomas Mifflin ~ was the oldest son of John and Elizabeth (Bagnell) Mifflin, a prosperous merchant family and early Quaker settlers. He was the third president under the Articles of Confederation.

He entered the Continental Army and was the quartermaster general until 1778, a decision that brought him into personal religious conflict, causing him to be dismissed from his Quaker Meeting for participating in military action. In June 1775, then Major Mifflin became George Washington's aide-de-camp, rose the rank of major general, but fell into disfavor with Washington when Mifflin became involved with those attempting to replace General Washington with General Horatio Gates.

Mifflin was credited with pulling Pennsylvania out of its Revolutionary War debt, establishing a model penal code, and undertaking many public works projects. However creditors descended on Mifflin in 1799 and he died penniless and with no heirs on January 20, 1800, just a little over one month after leaving office.

Robert Morris ~ at 13 years of age Morris emigrated to Maryland to join his father, a tobacco exporter at Oxford, Md. After brief schooling at Philadelphia, the youth obtained employment with Thomas and Charles Willing's well-known shipping-banking firm. In 1754 he became a partner and for almost four decades was one of the company's directors as well as an influential Philadelphia citizen.

In 1775 the Continental Congress contracted with Morris’s firm to import arms and ammunition, and he was elected to the Pennsylvania council of safety (1775-76), the committee of correspondence, the provincial assembly (1775-76), the legislature (1776-78), and the Continental Congress (1775-78). In the last body, on July 1, 1776, he voted against independence, which he personally considered premature, but the next day he purposely absented himself to facilitate an affirmative ballot by his delegation.

Morris, a key congressman, specialized in financial affairs and military procurement. Although he and his firm profited handsomely, had it not been for his assiduous labors the Continental Army would probably have been forced to demobilize. He worked closely with General Washington, wheedled money and supplies from the states, borrowed money in the face of overwhelming difficulties, and on occasion even obtained personal loans to further the war cause.

Under the Articles of Confederation. Congress, recognizing the perilous state of the nation's finances and its impotence to provide remedies, granted Morris dictatorial powers and acquiesced to his condition that he be allowed to continue his private commercial enterprises.

Morris obtained a sizable loan from France. He used part of it, along with some of his own fortune, to organize the Bank of North America, chartered that December. The first government-incorporated bank in the United States, it aided war financing.

During the later years of his public life, Morris speculated wildly, often on overextended credit, in lands in the West and at the site of Washington, DC. To compound his difficulties, in 1794 he began constructing on Philadelphia's Chestnut Street a mansion designed by Maj. Pierre Charles L'Enfant. Not long thereafter, Morris attempted to escape creditors by retreating to The Hills, the country estate along the Schuylkill River on the edge of Philadelphia that he had acquired in 1770.

Arrested at the behest of creditors in 1798 and forced to abandon completion of the mansion, thereafter known in its unfinished state as "Morris' Folly," Morris was thrown into the Philadelphia debtor's prison, where he was nevertheless well treated. By the time he was released in 1801, under a federal bankruptcy law, however, his property and fortune had vanished, his health had deteriorated, and his spirit had been broken. He lingered on in poverty and obscurity, living in a simple Philadelphia home on an annuity obtained for his wife by fellow-signer, Gouverneur Morris.

edit on 19-10-2012 by frazzle because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:25 AM
George Clymer ~ was orphaned in 1740, only a year after his birth in Philadelphia. A wealthy uncle reared and informally educated him and advanced him from clerk to full-fledged partner in his mercantile firm, which on his death he bequeathed to his ward. Later Clymer merged operations with the Merediths, a prominent business family, and cemented the relationship by marrying his senior partner's daughter, Elizabeth, in 1765.

Motivated at least partly by the impact of British economic restrictions on his business, Clymer early adopted the Revolutionary cause and was one of the first to recommend independence.

Quiet and unassuming, Clymer rarely spoke in debate but made his mark in committee efforts, especially those pertaining to commerce, finance, and military affairs. During the War for Independence, he also served on a series of commissions that conducted important field investigations. In December 1776, when Congress fled from Philadelphia to Baltimore, he and George Walton and Robert Morris remained behind to carry on congressional business.

Within a year, after the victory at the Battle of Brandywine, Pa. (September 11, 1777), British troops advancing on Philadelphia detoured for the purpose of vandalizing Clymer's home in Chester County about 25 miles outside the city. His wife and children hid nearby in the woods.
Clymer was appointed as collector of excise taxes on alcoholic beverages in Pennsylvania (1791-94).
In 1795-96 he sat on a Presidential commission that negotiated a treaty with the Cherokee and Creek Indians in Georgia.

Thomas FitzSimons ~ The Fitzsimons' family came to Philadelphia from Ireland in the mid-1750s. His father died soon after settling in the New World, but not before providing an adequate education for his five children. Both Thomas and his twin sister Ann married into the city's growing community of Irish merchants. In 1763 Thomas went into business with his new brother-in-law, George Meade (the grandfather of the Civil War general), specializing in trade with the West Indies.

FitzSimons was concerned about the inflation and other serious economic problems that marked the latter years of the Revolution. Pennsylvania, burdened with a weak government, was unable to cope with these issues. FitzSimons' experiences both in uniform and on the states Navy Board convinced him that stronger central authority did not pose a threat to liberty and was in fact the only solution to the new crisis. Many leaders who felt this way were unpopular in Philadelphia because of their wealth, but Fitzsimons' reputation as a caring officer, as well as his work for the poor on numerous local relief committees, sustained his popularity. At this time he also became associated with the Patriot financier Robert Morris, helping to organize the banking facilities that Morris used to support the Continental Army and Navy in the last years of the war. In fact, FitzSimons served as a director of the Bank of North America from its founding in 1781 until 1803.

Although his integrity impressed Madison, his political evenhandedness did not sit so well with the voters, who began to criticize his stand on fiscal matters. Chagrined by the criticism and distracted by business obligations, Fitzsimons resigned in 1783.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:25 AM
Congressman Allen West's "Field of Dreams" speech in Temecula California before the November election. Not since Ronald Reagan has the mission and purpose of the Conservative movement been articulated so well. Thank God for Allen West. (Californians: register to vote by Oct. 22nd at the Calif. Secretary of State Website. Save the Field of Dreams!)

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:27 AM
Jared Ingersoll ~ was the son of a prominent British official, whose strong Loyalist sentiments would lead to his being tarred and feathered at the hands of radical Patriots. Ingersoll graduated from Yale College in 1766, studied law in Philadelphia, and was admitted to the bar in 1773. Although by training and inclination a Patriot sympathizer, the young Ingersoll shied away from the cause at the outset because of a strong sense of personal loyalty to his distinguished father. On his father's advice, he sought to escape the growing political controversy at home by retiring to London to continue his study of the law at the Middle Temple (1773-76) and to tour extensively through Europe.

In 1788 Ingersoll renounced his family's views, made his personal commitment to the cause of independence, and returned home. With the help of influential friends he quickly established a flourishing law practice, and shortly thereafter he entered the fray as a delegate to the Continental Congress (1780-81). Always a supporter of strong central authority in political affairs, he became a leading agitator for reforming the national government in the postwar years, preaching the need for change to his friends in Congress and to the legal community.

At the Convention, Ingersoll was counted among those who favored revision of the existing Articles of Confederation, but in the end he joined with the majority and supported a plan for a new federal government.

Ingersoll represented Georgia in Chisolm vs. Georgia (1793), a landmark case in states' rights. Here the court decided against him, ruling that a state might be sued by a citizen of another state. This complete reversal of the notion of state sovereignty was later rescinded by the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution. In representing Hylton in Hylton vs. US. (1796), Ingersoll was also involved in the first legal challenge to the constitutionality of an act of Congress. In this case the Supreme Court upheld the government's right to impose a tax on carriages.

Governeur Morris ~ was the author of much of the Constitution. The noble phrases of that document's Preamble, "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union", like the finely wrought clauses that followed, clearly mirrored his personal political philosophy. Morris was perhaps the most outspoken nationalist among the Founding Fathers. Although born into a world of wealth and aristocratic values, he had come to champion the concept of a free citizenry united in an independent nation. In an age when most still thought of themselves as citizens of their sovereign and separate states, Morris was able to articulate a clear vision of a new and powerful union.

He was convinced that a strong central government was needed to preserve and enhance the liberties and boundless opportunities won in the war. As ambassador to Paris during the cataclysmic French Revolution, he came to fear the excesses of power that could be perpetrated in the name of liberty. Influenced by these events, he would later reject what he saw as unjustified assertions of authority by his own government.

Morris was admitted to the bar in 1771 after three years of study with William Smith, one of New York's leading legal minds and a strong opponent of British policies toward the colonies. The new lawyer's social status, combined with his natural wit and aristocratic grace, gave him ready access to the colony's leaders. His mentor (William Smith) who had successfully instilled in Morris a greater sense of mental discipline, urged him to exploit these contacts and introduced him to rising young Patriots like John Jay and Alexander Hamilton.

During the Convention debates, he defended ideas that had been associated with him ever since he had helped write the New York constitution in 1776: religious liberty, opposition to slavery, the right of property as the foundation of society, the rule of law, and the consent of the governed as the basis of government. His aims were ambitious and reflected his vision of a government that would serve as an example to the rest of the world.
In 1802 Morris summarized his best sentiments in a letter to fellow signer John Dickinson: "In adopting a republican form of government, I not only took it as a man does his wife, for better for worse, but what few men do with their wives, I took it knowing all its bad qualities."

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:31 AM
Governeur Morris ~ was the author of much of the Constitution. The noble phrases of that document's Preamble, "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union", like the finely wrought clauses that followed, clearly mirrored his personal political philosophy. Morris was perhaps the most outspoken nationalist among the Founding Fathers. Although born into a world of wealth and aristocratic values, he had come to champion the concept of a free citizenry united in an independent nation. In an age when most still thought of themselves as citizens of their sovereign and separate states, Morris was able to articulate a clear vision of a new and powerful union.

He was convinced that a strong central government was needed to preserve and enhance the liberties and boundless opportunities won in the war. As ambassador to Paris during the cataclysmic French Revolution, he came to fear the excesses of power that could be perpetrated in the name of liberty. Influenced by these events, he would later reject what he saw as unjustified assertions of authority by his own government.

Morris was admitted to the bar in 1771 after three years of study with William Smith, one of New York's leading legal minds and a strong opponent of British policies toward the colonies. The new lawyer's social status, combined with his natural wit and aristocratic grace, gave him ready access to the colony's leaders. His mentor (William Smith) who had successfully instilled in Morris a greater sense of mental discipline, urged him to exploit these contacts and introduced him to rising young Patriots like John Jay and Alexander Hamilton.

During the Convention debates, he defended ideas that had been associated with him ever since he had helped write the New York constitution in 1776: religious liberty, opposition to slavery, the right of property as the foundation of society, the rule of law, and the consent of the governed as the basis of government. His aims were ambitious and reflected his vision of a government that would serve as an example to the rest of the world.

In 1802 Morris summarized his best sentiments in a letter to fellow signer John Dickinson: "In adopting a republican form of government, I not only took it as a man does his wife, for better for worse, but what few men do with their wives, I took it knowing all its bad qualities."

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:32 AM
James Wilson ~ was born in Scotland, where he attended three universities, but failed to earn a degree. Shortly after arriving in America in 1765, he became a Latin tutor at the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), and successfully petitioned that institution to grant him an honorary master's degree. He soon decided that the law, rather than the academy, was the shortest route to advancement in America. He studied under John Dickinson, a fellow signer of the Constitution, and established a practice in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1768. Two years later, he moved westward to the Scots-Irish settlement of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where his new practice quickly prospered. Land speculation and lecturing on English literature at the College of Philadelphia occupied his remaining time.

He served on committees with the Continental Congress (1774-77) dealing with Indian and military affairs reflecting the cautious attitudes of his constituency when, like his mentor John Dickinson, he voted to postpone, for a three-week period, consideration of Richard Henry Lee's 7 June 1776 motion for independence, an action for which he was strongly criticized, although he subsequently voted for independence and signed the Declaration.

France selected him as its Advocate General in America (1779-83), a position that required him to advise the new nation's ally on aspects of American law, especially in commercial and maritime matters. Although he was not then a delegate to the Continental Congress, that body recognized his skill as a financier when in 1781 it appointed Wilson director of the Bank of North America, recently founded by Robert Morris to help finance the war effort.

He cooperated with James Madison in promoting popular sovereignty, especially in the election of congressmen, and led the opposition against those delegates who sought to reserve special rights and privileges for the rich and well-born. He considered the election of the national legislature by the people to be "not only the cornerstone, but the foundation of the fabric." Reflecting more than any other delegate what would one day become the mainstream of American political thought, Wilson was practically alone among the Founding Fathers in advocating the direct election of the President.

Wilson became one of the Convention's leading advocates of a strong executive, and, in general, of a powerful federal government.

Wilson also joined the new national government, serving as an associate justice of the Supreme Court (1789-98). At the same time, however, he was speculating in lands in western New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia and promoting a grandiose scheme to recruit European immigrants to settle there. The investments proved ruinous, and Wilson was forced to move, in the last months of his life, to Burlington, New Jersey, to escape debtor's prison.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:34 AM
George Read ~ was the son of an Irish immigrant, a well-to-do landowner from Dublin who eventually settled his family in New Castle, Delaware. Read attended local schools in Chester, Pennsylvania, and Reverend Francis Alison's well-known academy in New London, Pennsylvania, before reading law under John Moland of Philadelphia. He married Gertrude (Ross) Till, daughter of a future signer of the Declaration of Independence.

An irregular attendee of the Continental Congress, he moved in conservative Patriot circles with delegates such as his friend (and fellow signer of the Constitution) John Dickinson. They were willing to fight for colonial rights, but were wary of extremism. Although he voted against independence on 2 July 1776 because he thought that reconciliation with Great Britain was still possible, he came round and, on 4 July, fully supported the Declaration.

Reflecting the views of the smaller states, Read argued that taxes levied by Congress should be based on the population of the states, rather than on the value of lands and improvements, and that the title to western lands should be held jointly with specific limits placed on the claims of individual states to them.
At the Convention, Read immediately pushed for a new national government based on a new Constitution. As he put it: "to amend the Articles was simply putting old cloth on a new garment." He was a leader in the fight for a strong central government, advocating, at one time, the abolition of the states altogether and the consolidation of the country under one powerful national government. "Let no one fear the states, the people are with us;" he declared to a Convention shocked by this radical proposal.

Gunning Bedford Jr. ~ was born in Philadelphia, the son of a respectable master-craftsman, and cousin to Colonel Gunning Bedford, who served as governor of Delaware. He attended Princeton and received an A.B. in 1771 and A.M. in 1774 (making him a contemporary of such students as New Jersey's William Paterson and Virginia's James Madison). He read for the law in Philadelphia, entered the bar in Chester County, Pennsylvania; and was admitted to the Delaware bar as well. He eventually moved to Delaware, probably because he anticipated a political reward, which in fact he received in 1784, when he was appointed state's attorney general.

Bedford also supported a motion that would have allowed a majority of the state legislatures to remove the national executive, and spoke forcefully for an unchecked legislative power. He returned to Delaware, however, satisfied with the Constitution and defended it in the state ratifying convention.

George Washington appointed Bedford in 1789 a federal district judge, a position he held for the remainder of his life.

John Dickinson ~ was the second son of Samuel Dickinson, the prosperous farmer, and his second wife, Mary (Cadwalader) Dickinson. In 1740 the family moved to Kent County near Dover, DE., where private tutors educated the youth. In 1750 he began to study law with John Moland in Philadelphia. In 1753 Dickinson went to England to continue his studies at London's Middle Temple. Four years later, he returned to Philadelphia and became a prominent lawyer there. In 1770 he married Mary Norris, daughter of a wealthy merchant.

Dickinson's moderate position left him in the minority. In Congress he voted against the Declaration of Independence (1776) and refused to sign it.

Although he resented the forcefulness of Madison and the other nationalists, he helped engineer the Great Compromise and wrote public letters supporting constitutional ratification. Because of his premature departure from the convention (illness), he did not actually sign the Constitution but authorized his friend and fellow-delegate George Read to do so for him.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:36 AM
Richard Bassett ~ was born in Cecil County, MD., in April 1745. After his tavern-keeper father deserted his mother, he was reared by a relative, Peter Lawson, from whom he later inherited Bohemia Manor (MD.) estate. He read for the law at Philadelphia and in 1770 received a license to practice in Dover, DE. He prospered as a lawyer and planter, and eventually came to own not only Bohemia Manor, but homes in Dover and Wilmington as well.

At the U.S. Constitutional Convention the next year, Bassett attended diligently but made no speeches, served on no committees, and cast no critical votes. Like several other delegates of estimable reputation and talent, he allowed others to make the major steps.

Bassett subsequently went on to a bright career in the state and federal governments. In the Delaware ratifying convention, he joined in the 30-0 vote for the Constitution. Subsequently, in the years 1789-93, he served in the U.S. Senate. In that capacity, he voted in favor of the power of the President to remove governmental officers and against Hamilton's plan for the federal assumption of state debts.

From 1793 until 1799 Bassett held the chief justiceship of the court of common pleas. He espoused the Federalist cause in the 1790s, and served as a Presidential elector on behalf of John Adams in 1797. Two years later, Bassett was elected Governor of Delaware and continued in that post until 1801. That year, he became one of President Adams' "midnight" appointments as a judge of the U.S. Circuit Court. Subsequently, the Jeffersonian Republicans abolished his judgeship, and he spent the rest of his life in retirement.

Jacob Broom ~ was the eldest son of a blacksmith who prospered in farming. He was educated at home and probably at the local Old Academy. Although he followed his father into farming and also studied surveying, he was to make his career primarily in mercantile pursuits, including shipping and the import trade, and in real estate.

At the Constitutional Convention, he never missed a session and spoke on several occasions, but his role was only a minor one.

In 1795 Broom erected a home near the Brandywine River on the outskirts of the city. He was its first postmaster (1790-92) and continued to hold various local offices and to participate in a variety of economic endeavors. For many years, he chaired the board of directors of Wilmington's Delaware Bank. He also operated a cotton mill, as well as a machine shop that produced and repaired mill machinery. He was involved, too, in an unsuccessful scheme to mine bog iron ore. A further interest was internal improvements: toll roads, canals, and bridges. (He died at 58)

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:37 AM
James McHenry ~ Son of a prosperous merchant, he received a classical education in Dublin, an education continued in the New World at the Newark Academy (later the University of Delaware). He was a recent immigrant to America. Less than five years after first landing in Philadelphia, McHenry, who included himself among those he called the "sons of freedom," was serving with the Continental forces surrounding Boston. He proved to be a strong nationalist, focusing more on the concept of a united America than on loyalty to any one of the three colonies in which he had lived before the Revolution.

His experiences in the Army, including service on General George Washington's personal staff, convinced him that the only obstacles to nationhood were timidity among the citizenry and "disunion" among the states. Throughout a career of public service that lasted into the second decade of the new republic, he upheld the ideal of a strong central government as embodied in the Constitution as the best guarantee against any such disunity or loss of national purpose in the future.

He spent two years in Philadelphia as an apprentice to one of America's foremost physicians, Dr. Benjamin Rush and worked in the military hospital in Cambridge as a volunteer assistant surgeon, but before long he was asked to accept the demanding assignment of surgeon in one of the hospitals being established in northern New York to care for the wounded in the wake of an abortive American attack on Canada.

There McHenry temporarily served with the Flying Hospital (a kind of Revolutionary War MASH) before coming to General Washington's personal attention. In May 1778 the Commander in Chief selected him to serve as assistant secretary on his staff. McHenry remained on Washington's staff as a volunteer without rank or pay for two and a half years. During that period he saw action in the battles of Monmouth and Springfield, New Jersey, and became a valued member of Washington's immediate "military family," along with men like Henry Knox, Alexander Hamilton, and the Marquis de Lafayette.

Elected to the state legislature, he served for thirteen years, using this forum to argue the cause of federalism. Between 1783 and 1786 he sat in the Continental Congress, and in the following year he represented Maryland at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Although he played no leading part in the deliberations of the Convention, McHenry continued to support the call for a strong central government.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:39 AM
Daniel Carroll ~ was a prominent member of one of America's great colonial families, a family that produced a signer of the Declaration of Independence in Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a cousin, and the first Catholic bishop in the United States, Daniel's brother John. Daniel Carroll was a patrician planter who fused family honor with the cause of American independence, willingly risking his social and economic position in the community for the Patriot cause. Later, as a friend and staunch ally of George Washington, he worked for a strong central government which could secure the achievements and fulfill the hopes of the Revolution. Ironically, for one whose name was synonymous with the colonial aristocracy, Carroll fought in the Convention for a government responsible directly to the people.

Carroll was an active member of the Constitutional Convention, despite the fact that illness prevented him from attending the early sessions. Like his good friend James Madison, Carroll was convinced that a strong central government was needed to regulate commerce among the states and with other nations. He also spoke out repeatedly in opposition to the payment of members of Congress by the states, reasoning that such compensation would sabotage the strength of the new government because "the dependence of both Houses on the state Legislatures would be compleat . . . .The new government in this form is nothing more than a second edition of [the Continental] Congress in two volumes, instead of one, and perhaps with very few amendments."

He wanted governmental power vested in the people, and he joined James Wilson in campaigning for popular sovereignty. When it was suggested that the President should be elected by the Congress, it was Carroll, seconded by James Wilson, who moved that the words "by the legislature" be replaced with "by the people." His signature on the Constitution made him one of two Catholics to sign the document, a further symbol of the advance of religious freedom in America during the Revolutionary period.

He also defended the Constitution in the pages of the Maryland Journal, most notably in his response to the arguments advanced by the well-known Anti-federalist Samuel Chase. After ratification was achieved in Maryland, Carroll became a representative in the First Congress, where, reflecting his concern for economic and fiscal stability, he voted for the assumption of state debts by the federal government.

Dan of St. Thomas Jenifer ~ was a wealthy, aristocratic bachelor who expended long years of effort on behalf of Maryland, colony and State, where he was a popular figure in political circles. Although he attended the Mount Vernon Conference, he made little impact at the Constitutional Convention.

Little is known about his childhood or education, but as an adult he came into possession of a large estate near Annapolis, called Stepney, where he lived most of his life. He never married. The web of his far-reaching friendships included such illustrious personages as George Washington.

Jenifer supported the Revolutionary movement, albeit at first reluctantly. He favored a strong and permanent union of the States and a Congress with taxation power. In 1785 he represented Maryland at the Mount Vernon Conference. Although he was one of 29 delegates who attended nearly every session of the Constitutional Convention, he did not speak often but backed Madison and the nationalist element.

John Blair ~ was born at Williamsburg in 1732 of a prominent Virginia family,. His father, John Blair, was a colonial official and his uncle, James Blair, was founder and first president of the College of William and Mary. Blair graduated from that institution and studied law at London's Middle Temple. Thereafter, he practiced at Williamsburg.

Blair attended the Constitutional Convention religiously but never spoke or served on a committee. He usually sided with the position of the Virginia delegation.

In 1789 Washington named Blair as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, where he helped decide many important cases.

edit on 19-10-2012 by frazzle because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:42 AM
James Madison Jr. ived all his life (except for his presidential years) in the beautiful county of Orange, Virginia, on a 5,000-acre plantation that produced tobacco and grains and was worked by perhaps one hundred slaves. After being schooled at home, Madison went to preparatory school and then to the College of New Jersey at Princeton.

Madison was among the half dozen leading promoters of stronger national government and earned a reputation as a well-informed and effective leader. Madison spent three years in Virginia helping pass Jefferson's bill for religious freedom and other reform measures.

At the convention Madison supported the Virginia plan for giving real power to the national government.

Madison opposed the privileged position Hamilton gave to commerce and wealth. He also greatly opposed Jay's Treaty, which settled differences between America and Great Britain regarding trade. Madison felt that the treaty would align the United States with England in a way that would betray the nation's principles, or standards. Thus, the final ratification of Jay's Treaty (April 1796) over Madison's bitter opposition marked his declining influence in Congress. A year later he retired to Virginia.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:43 AM
George Washington ~ was born into the landed gentry in 1732 at Wakefield Plantation, VA. Until reaching 16 years of age, he lived there and at other plantations along the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, including the one that later became known as Mount Vernon.

At the age of 16, in 1748, Washington joined a surveying party sent out to the Shenandoah Valley by Lord Fairfax, a land baron. For the next few years, Washington conducted surveys in Virginia and present West Virginia and gained a lifetime interest in the West.

In 1754, winning the rank of lieutenant colonel and then colonel in the militia, Washington led a force that sought to challenge French control of the Ohio River Valley, but met defeat at Fort Necessity, PA - an event that helped trigger the French and Indian War (1754-63). Late in 1754, irked by the dilution of his rank because of the pending arrival of British regulars, he resigned his commission. That same year, he leased Mount Vernon, which he was to inherit in 1761.

In 1755 Washington reentered military service with the courtesy title of colonel, as an aide to Gen. Edward Braddock, and barely escaped death when the French defeated the general's forces in the Battle of the Monongahela, PA.

Late in 1758 or early in 1759, disillusioned over governmental neglect of the militia and irritated at not rising in rank, he resigned and headed back to Mount Vernon.

Washington then wed Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow and mother of two children. The marriage produced no offspring, but Washington reared those of his wife as his own. During the period 1759-74, he managed his plantations and sat in the Virginia House of Burgesses. He supported the initial protests against British policies; took an active part in the nonimportation movement in Virginia; and, in time, particularly because of his military experience, became a Whig leader.

In 1775, after the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, Congress appointed him as commander in chief of the Continental Army. Overcoming severe obstacles, especially in supply, he eventually fashioned a well-trained and disciplined fighting force.

Once the Treaty of Paris (1783) was signed, he resigned his commission and returned once again to Mount Vernon. His wartime financial sacrifices and long absence, as well as generous loans to friends, had severely impaired his extensive fortune, which consisted mainly of his plantations, slaves, and landholdings in the West. At this point, however, he was to have little time to repair his finances, for his retirement was brief.

Dissatisfied with national progress under the Articles of Confederation, Washington advocated a stronger central government. He hosted the Mount Vernon Conference (1785) at his estate after its initial meetings in Alexandria, though he apparently did not directly participate in the discussions. Despite his sympathy with the goals of the Annapolis Convention (1786), he did not attend. But, the following year, encouraged by many of his friends, he presided over the Constitutional Convention, whose success was immeasurably influenced by his presence and dignity. Following ratification of the new instrument of government in 1788, the electoral college unanimously chose him as the first President.

Usually leaning upon Hamilton for advice, Washington supported his plan for the assumption of state debts, concurred in the constitutionality of the bill establishing the Bank of the United States, and favored enactment of tariffs by Congress to provide federal revenue and protect domestic manufacturers.
Washington took various other steps to strengthen governmental authority, including suppression of the Whisky Rebellion (1794).

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:45 AM
North Carolina:
William Blount ~ Blount was born into a world of wealth and privilege. The oldest son in a family of distinguished merchants and planters who owned extensive properties along the banks of the Pamlico River, he was educated by private tutors, and with his brothers he moved with ease into a career managing some of his father's mercantile interests. At this stage of his life, Blount showed little sympathy for the aspirations of the roughhewn settlers in the western regions of the colony.

He was raised in the aristocratic tradition of the seaboard planter society, Blount faithfully served his native state in elective office and under arms during the Revolution. But like George Washington, Blount also foresaw the boundless opportunities and potential of the west. Drawn to the trans-Allegheny territories, he eventually played a major role in the founding of the state of Tennessee.

Blount's journey from the drawing rooms of the east to the rude frontier cabins of his adopted state not only illustrates the lure of the region to a man of business and political acumen but also underscores the fact that the creation of a strong central government that could protect and foster westward expansion was a critical factor in America's growth as a nation. Indeed, Blount had led the fight in North Carolina for ratification of the new Constitution because he, like many of his fellow veterans, had already come to realize that the various political and economic promises of independence could be fulfilled only by a strong, effective union of all the states.

In 1790 President Washington chose his old comrade in arms to serve as territorial governor of the trans-Allegheny lands ceded by North Carolina to the new nation. He also appointed Blount to the post of superintendent of Indian affairs for the Southern Department.

Army's single regiment was fully committed to operations in the Northwest Territory. It also won Blount the respect and support of the settlers pouring into the region. After he led Tennessee to full statehood in 1796, serving as chairman of its constitutional convention, he was elected as one of the new state's first United States senators.

Blount's new career proved short-lived. In less than a year his colleagues expelled him from the Senate on charges of conspiring with an agent of the British government. These charges, unconfirmed to this day, connected Blount with a plot to seize control of Spain's possessions in Louisiana and Florida. There was certainly a widespread frustration in the frontier states, and especially in Tennessee, over Spain's continued control of the Mississippi River, on which the economic survival of the region depended. Whatever his connection with the affair, Blount's popularity in Tennessee remained undiminished. In 1798 he was elected to the state legislature, where he served with honor as speaker of the senate until his death.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:47 AM
Richard Dobbs Spait ~ Throughout his short life, Spaight, who represented North Carolina in the Constitutional Convention, exhibited a marked devotion to the ideals heralded by the Revolution. The nephew of a Royal governor, possessed of all the advantages that accompanied such rank and political access, Spaight nevertheless fought for the political and economic rights of his fellow citizens, first on the battlefield against the forces of an authoritarian Parliament and later in state and national legislatures against those who he felt sought excessive government control over the lives of the people. The preservation of liberty was his political lodestar.

His father, a popular Royal official in his own right, was North Carolina's treasurer and later a member of the Royal Governor's Council, the executive committee that directed the affairs of the colony. The Spaight family enjoyed extensive properties in the mercantile-planter region of Pamlico Sound.

Always an ardent nationalist, Spaight firmly supported the cause of effective central government. In this, he reflected a viewpoint common among veterans of the Revolution: that only a close union of all the states could preserve the liberties won by the cooperation of all the colonies. At the same time, Spaight believed that to guarantee the free exercise of these liberties, the powers of the state must be both limited and strictly defined.
Spaight's major contribution to constitutional government- took place not in Philadelphia but in his native state, where the fight for ratification proved exceptionally difficult. The Anti-Federalists were in the majority when the ratifying convention met at Hillsboro in 1788. They did not plan to reject the Constitution outright, preferring to recommend a series of amendments, specifically a bill of rights, and adjourn. When the Federalists forced the issue, the Constitution went down to defeat.

The Federalists bided their time. They kept closely informed about the ratification progress in other parts of the country through Spaight's contacts with George Washington. By 1791 the Constitution had been approved by eleven states (?) and the new national Congress had submitted a bill of rights to the states in the form of ten amendments to the Constitution. With Anti-Federalist power in North Carolina eroding, Spaight and his colleagues called for a new ratifying convention. Their strategy worked. Even the traditionally Anti-Federalist western. counties now elected Federalist delegates, and North Carolina quickly approved the Constitution.

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1798 and served slightly more than one term before health problems forced his resignation. While in Congress Spaight's increasing concern with states' rights led him to abandon the Federalist cause and join the Democratic-Republican party forming around Thomas Jefferson. He emerged from retirement one last time in 1801 to run for the state senate. A bitter argument with his Federalist rival, John Stanley, ended in a pistol due] on the outskirts of Newbern. After each party missed three successive shots, Spaight was hit and fell mortally wounded.

Hugh Williamson ~ Few men have enjoyed so varied a career as Hugh Williamson--preacher, physician, essayist, scientist, businessman, and politician. He traveled and studied in Europe, witnessed the Boston Tea Party, participated in the Revolution, served as a U.S. Congressman, and numbered among the leading scientific authors of his day. In addition to all these achievements, he was one of the leading lights at the Constitutional Convention.

...His pursuit of scientific interests continued, and in 1768 he became a member of the American Philosophical Society... He was also a founder of the Literary and Philosophical Society of New York and a prominent member of the New York Historical Society.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:49 AM
South Carolina:
John Rutledge ~ mirrored the beliefs and attitudes of the southern planter aristocracy. He subscribed to the idea of an ordered society that guaranteed the rights and privileges of men of property. At the same time, he was a fearless Patriot who sacrificed his own considerable wealth to the cause of independence. Well educated, Rutledge proved to be an able leader in a crucial era in the history of his state and nation. As governor of South Carolina during the Revolution and as an active delegate at the Constitutional Convention, he exhibited attractive and important qualities of leadership: tact, industry, courage, and political conviction.

Rutledge advocated a moderate policy, one that would avoid severing ties with the mother country while insisting on colonial self-government. He chaired the committee that drafted the congress' petition to Parliament seeking a repeal of the tax. Continuing as a leader of the moderate wing of the Patriot cause, he was elected to the First Continental Congress in 1774. Again he advocated a nonviolent course, calling for an embargo on English goods and a boycott of English markets (although he fought successfully to keep rice, a South Carolina staple, off the embargo list). He returned to Philadelphia as a member of the Second Continental Congress (1775-76), until replaced by his younger brother Edward, who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Believing that the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation threatened the rights that had been won by the Revolution and guaranteed by provisions in the state constitutions, Rutledge cooperated closely with James Wilson in championing a strong central government. Rutledge was an influential delegate from the start of the Convention, when his proposal to conduct the sessions behind closed doors and submit all of the members to an oath of secrecy was accepted by all the delegates.

Rutledge served as a presidential elector in 1789, joining in the unanimous choice of George Washington. The final phase of his public career saw him in high judicial positions, first for one year as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and then as chief justice of the South Carolina supreme court (1791-95). He was nominated by Washington to replace Chief Justice John Jay in 1795, but the Senate refused to confirm him because of his vehement opposition to Jay's Treaty with Great Britain and because of recurring illness following the death of his wife in 1792, an illness that effectively ended his public career.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:51 AM
Charles Pinckney ~ The Pinckneys were one of South Carolina's oldest and most distinguished families, and successive generations made a significant contribution to the development of the new nation. The family had arrived in America in 1692, and Pinckney's great-grandfather, a wealthy English gentleman, quickly established an enduring base of political and economic power. Pinckney's father, a rich planter and lawyer with an extensive practice in Charleston, rose to the rank of colonel in the state militia and was a prominent leader within the colonial assembly.

He was an ardent apostle of the rights of man. He dedicated his considerable political and legal talents to the establishment of a strong national government saying, "The effects of the Revolution may never cease to operate," but continue to serve as an example to others "until they have unshackled all the nations that have firmness to resist the fetters of despotism."

Pinckney was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1779 while still in his twenty-first year, however, he never saw a career in the law as his major vocation. Coming of age in the midst of the Revolution, the gifted young scholar turned naturally to politics.

While many politicians, enjoying the fruits of independence, celebrated the sovereignty of the individual states, Pinckney was among those who perceived a clear and present danger in allowing a weak confederation of the states to lead the new nation that had emerged from the Revolutionary War.

His conviction was that only a strong central government could provide the economic and military strength essential to prosperity and security. Unlike some of his prominent colleagues, Pinckney saw little to fear in a powerful government. He agreed with the Federalists that the rights of the citizen would be protected under the Constitution since it recognized that the government's power came from the people and that the government remained in all things accountable to the people.

Over thirty of the Constitution's provisions can be traced directly to his pen, and his personal experience in the Revolution clearly influenced his support of others. Among the more important issues for which he fought was the subordination of the military to civil authority. This principle was made explicit in the provision that declared the President Commander in Chief and retained for Congress, the branch of government most directly representing the will of the people, the power to declare war and maintain military forces. Defending his position on this sensitive subject, Pinckney once expressed to South Carolina's voters his inability to understand how anyone, considering the nation's recent experiences, could fail to perceive the need for "regular military forces." Only the timid would oppose it, he concluded, for although the Constitution made the President the Commander in Chief, it also guaranteed that "he can neither raise nor support forces by his own authority." Pinckney also tried, unsuccessfully, to include in the Constitution some explicit guarantees concerning trial by jury and freedom of the press-measures that would later be enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Although Pinckney associated in Philadelphia with many future leaders of the Federalist party, his nationalist sentiments were more compatible with those expressed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. As a result, he served as the manager in South Carolina of Jefferson's successful campaign for President in 1800 and supported Jefferson's program during a brief term in the United States Senate before resigning in 1801 to become ambassador to Spain, where he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase.

posted on Oct, 19 2012 @ 11:52 AM
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney ~ Like other first families of South Carolina whose wealth and social prominence could be traced to the seventeenth century, the Pinckneys maintained close ties with the mother country and actively participated in the Royal colonial government. Nevertheless, when armed conflict threatened, Pinckney rejected Loyalist appeals and embraced the Patriot cause. Pragmatically, his decision represented an act of allegiance to the mercantile-planter class of South Carolina's seaboard, which deeply resented Parliament's attempt to institute political and economic control over the colonies. Yet Pinckney's choice also had a philosophical dimension. It placed him among a small group of wealthy and powerful southerners whose profound sense of public duty obliged them to risk everything in defense of their state and the rights of its citizens. In Pinckney's case this sense of public responsibility was intensified by his determination to assume the mantle of political and military leadership traditionally worn by members of his family.

In 1753 the family moved to London where the elder Pinckney served as the colony's agent, in effect, as a lobbyist protecting colonial interests in political and commercial matters. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney enrolled in the famous Westminster preparatory school, and he, with his brother Thomas, remained in England to complete his education when the family returned to America in 1758. After graduating from Christ Church College at Oxford, he studied law at London's famous Middle Temple. He was admitted to the English bar in 1769, but he continued his education for another year, studying botany and chemistry in France and briefly attending the famous French military academy at Caen.

Returning to South Carolina after an absence of sixteen years, Pinckney quickly threw himself into the commercial and political life of the colony. To supplement an income derived from plantations, he launched a successful career as a lawyer. He became a vestryman and warden in the Episcopal church and joined the socially elite 1st Regiment of South Carolina militia, which promptly elected him as lieutenant. In 1770 he won a seat for the first time in the state legislature, and in 1773 he served briefly as a regional attorney general. During this period he married Sarah Middleton, the daughter and sister of South Carolina political leaders who, respectively, would serve in the Continental Congress and sign the Declaration of Independence.

When war between the colonies and the mother country finally erupted in 1775, Pinckney cast aside his close ties with England and South Carolina's Royal colonial government to stand with the Patriots. He served in the Provincial Congresses that transformed South Carolina from Royal colony to independent state and in the Council of Safety that supervised affairs when the legislature was not in session. During this period Pinckney played an especially important role in those legislative committees that organized the state's military defenses.

In recognition of his forceful leadership, South Carolina chose him to represent the state at the Constitutional Convention that met in Philadelphia in 1787. There he joined Washington and other nationalist leaders whom he had met during the Pennsylvania campaign. Pinckney agreed with them that the nation needed a strong central government, but he also worked for a carefully designed system of checks and balances to protect the citizen from the tyranny so often encountered in Europe. When he returned to Charleston, he worked diligently to secure South Carolina's ratification of the new instrument of government. In 1790 he then participated in a convention that drafted a new state constitution modeled on the work accomplished in Philadelphia.

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