US Senator, Diplomat, and Signer of the US Constitution. One of America's Founding Fathers and a member of the Federalist Party, he served as a first representative from the state of New York in the US Senate shortly after its formation by the new Congress, from July 1789 until July 1796. The son of a prosperous merchant, he attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in 1777. He read law until 1778, when he joined the militia during the American Revolutionary War and was appointed to the rank of major, serving as an aide to General John Sullivan during the Battle of Rhode Island. He then returned to his law studies and was admitted to the bar in 1780, then established a legal practice in Newburyport, Massachusetts. In 1783 he entered politics when he was first elected to the Massachusetts General Court, serving there until 1785. Form 1784 until 1787 he was chosen to represent Massachusetts at the Confederation Congress and helped to draft the final version which he signed on September 17, 1787. He then returned home to assist in Massachusetts' ratification of the Constitution, which was accomplished in February 1788. He moved to New York City, New York and was elected to the US Senate and was reelected in 1795. The following year, he was nominated by President George Washington to be the first US Minister to England and he served in that position from July 1796 until May 1803. He returned to the US and lost the bid to be reelected to the US Senate in 1804 but won the seat in 1812, serving for two additional terms from March 1813 until March 1825. He was then nominated by President John Quincy Adams as US Minister to England for a second time, from November 1825 until June 1826, when his failing health forced him to return to the US. He then retired from public life and died the following year at the age of 72.
Bio by: William Bjornstad