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 Tristam Burges

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Tristam Burges

  • Birth 26 Feb 1770 Rochester, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Death 13 Oct 1853 East Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA
  • Burial Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA
  • Plot AJ-03184
  • Memorial ID 6947416

US Congressman. Great-great uncle to Theodore Francis Green. Born to a farmer who joined the Revolutionary Army in 1775 but had to return home due to illness. He was the youngest of 3 boys all of whom worked the farm and were apprenticed as coopers. He received very little formal education until his 20's. He was taught to read by his older sister and his father taught him some math and writing. In April of 1791 he entered the academy run by Reverend William Williams in Wrentham Mass. He was there only a short time before he returned home due to illness. His return to school in October was cut short by the death of his father. Although he spoke well in normal conversation he soon found that he stuttered when speaking in public. He conquered his speech impediment and became such a good orator that he was selected to give the valedictory speech. In September 1793 he was admitted to Rhode Island College (Brown University). His meager funds lasted nearly till the end of his studies. The graduates, according to the importance of their commencement contribution, absorbed the cost of graduation. Giving the valedictory speech was a great honor and came with a price tag of $100. He exhausted all prospects to raise the money and graduate till an old man lent him the money at 6% interest. After graduating he operated a day school for young ladies and concurrently read law books. He encountered a stroke of good luck when he was pressed into buying a lottery ticket. Not having the five dollars he gave his IOU. He won and received $2000, which enabled him to study law full time. He was admitted to the bar in 1799 and commenced practice in Providence. In 1811 he was elected as a representative from Providence to the General Assembly. In 1817 he was appointed to be the Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. When a new party came into power the next year he was removed from his post. In 1825 he was elected to the US Congress and to the 4 succeeding Congresses. He was also a Professor of Oratory and Belles Letters at Brown University. When school president Francis Wayland ordered that all professors live in rooms on campus several professors objected. When he offered to resume his duties without compensation he was told his services were no longer needed. Ran unsuccessfully for Governor as a Whig. Argued cases before the US Supreme Court. Died at his estate Watchemoket Farm.

Bio by: Matthew Fatale


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 23 Nov 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6947416
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Tristam Burges (26 Feb 1770–13 Oct 1853), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6947416, citing North Burial Ground, Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .