Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Maryland. Born in Somerset County, Maryland, his mother died soon after his birth, and when he was three years old, his father, a minister, moved the family to Baltimore. There he received his early schooling from his father, before studying law in Annapolis. When he was twenty, he set up practice as a lawyer, and the same year, married Anne Baldwin. They would have seven children. In 1764, he was elected to serve in the Maryland General Assembly and later, was representative from Maryland in the Continental Congress, during which he signed the Declaration of Independence for the state of Maryland. Prior to the Revolution, he organized the Sons of Liberty in Annapolis, and because his ruddy face would become flushed red with excitement during political debates, his opponents gave him the name "Bacon Face." In 1774, he was selected to attend the First Continental Congress, and a year later, was selected again for the Second Continental Congress. He quickly voted for Independence, when the issue came up on July 2, 1776. Because of his zeal for independence, he was called the "Samuel Adams of Maryland" and "The Torch that Lit the Revolutionary Flame in Maryland." During the war, his wife died, and in 1784, he married Hannah Kitty Giles, with whom he had two more children. In 1796, he joined the Supreme Court, serving until his death in 1811, as an associate justice. In 1804 he was impeached for malfeasance (illegal conduct) in presiding over two sedition trials, but was acquitted the following year, when the US Senate ruled that judges may not be removed from office on what was basically political grounds. His conduct during the two sedition trials was not really illegal, but was not acceptable to some of his political enemies, and they sought to remove him from the Supreme Court. This trial set the legal precedence that judges could not be removed for political reasons. He died in Baltimore, Maryland in 1811, at the age of seventy.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson