Signer of US Constitution. He was a self-made real estate magnate whose extensive contributions at the US Constitutional Convention helped shape much of America's guiding principles. Born in Massachusetts, he received little formal education before being sent as an apprentice, at the age of fifteen, to a Connecticut businessman. In 1759 he returned to his hometown of Charlestown, Massachusetts where he established a successful business and became a public notary. In 1771 he was elected to the provincial legislature and served until 1775. He believed strongly in American independence. He sat on the Board of War from 1778 to 1781 and became famous for his organizational and management skills because of the way he helped manage the logistics and manpower of the Massachusetts military. His efforts were rewarded as he was elected to both houses of his new state's legislature and served at the Massachusetts constitutional convention. In 1782 he was sent to represent his state in the Continental Congress. He served from 1782 to 1783, from 1786 to 1787 and again in 1789. He was president of the Congress from 1786 to 1787. In 1787 he was selected to represent Massachusetts at the US Constitutional Convention. He took an active role in the convention serving on the "Committee of Detail" and serving as Chairman of the "Committee for the Whole" and for several months as assistant President to the Convention when George Washington was unable to attend. He campaigned for a strong central government that could regulate the use of paper money and interstate commerce while promoting international trade. He fought for long terms for senators and presidents, sought to give the Congress wide powers while favoring the concept of the President appointing federal judges. In spite of his passionate work on behalf of his new nation he believed it would prove unsuccessful and that the nation was too large and diverse to remain as one. In 1788 he entered into a land deal involving six million acres in western New York. The venture did not work out and he and his partners were unable to fulfill their financial obligations leaving him in financial ruin and causing him to lose his political popularity. However, even though he had no legal training, he was appointed a state judge and sat on the bench from 1788 until he resigned in 1796. He died in his hometown at the age of fifty-eight.
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