- Roger Sherman
name = Roger Sherman
jr/sr = United States Senator
party = Pro-Administration
June 13, 1791ndash July 23, 1793
predecessor = William S. Johnson
successor = Stephen M. Mitchell
order2 = Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
Connecticut's At-large district
March 4, 1789
March 4, 1791
predecessor2 = None
date of birth =
April 19, 1721
place of birth =
date of death =
July 23, 1793
nationality = USA
spouse = Elizabeth Hartwell
Rebecca Minot Prescott
Roger Sherman (
April 19, 1721(J.C), April 30, 1721(G.C.)ndash July 23, 1793) was an early American lawyerand politician. He served as the first mayor of New Haven, Connecticut, and served on the Committee of Fivethat drafted the Declaration of Independence, and was also a representative and senator in the new republic.
He was the only person to sign all four great state papers of the U.S.: the
Articles of Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederationand the Constitution. [ [http://www.aoc.gov/cc/art/nsh/sherman.cfm Roger Sherman] Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved February 14, 2007. ] Thomas Jeffersononce said of him: "That is Mr. Sherman of Connecticut, a man who has never said a foolish thing in his life."
Sherman is also the patriarch of one of the most powerful and prolific U.S. political families, the
Baldwin, Hoar & Sherman family.
Roger Sherman was born in
Newton, Massachusetts. When he was three years old, his family moved to Canton, Massachusetts, a town located seventeen miles (27 km) south of Boston. Sherman's education did not extend beyond his father's library and grammar school and his early career was spent as a shoe designer but he was blessed with the ability of learning, and access to a good library owned by his father as well as a Harvardeducated parish minister, Rev. Samuel Dunbar, who took him under his wing;
In 1743, after his father's death, he moved (on foot) with his mother and siblings to
New Milford, Connecticut, where in partnership with his brother, he opened the town's first store. He very quickly introduced himself in civil and religious affairs, rapidly becoming one of the town's leading citizens and eventually town clerk of New Milford. Due to his mathematical skill he became county surveyor of New Haven Countyin 1745, and began providing astronomical calculations for almanacs in 1748.
Legal, political career
Despite the fact that he had no formal legal training, Sherman was urged to read for the bar exam by a local lawyer and was admitted to the Bar of
Litchfield, Connecticutin 1754, and chosen to represent New Milford in the Connecticut General Assemblyfrom 1755 to 1758 and from 1760 to 1761. In 1766 he was elected to the Upper House of the Connecticut General Assembly, where he served until 1785.
He was appointed justice of the peace in 1762, judge of the court of common pleas in 1765, and justice of the Superior Court of Connecticut from 1766 to 1789, when he left to become a member of the
United States Congress. He was also appointed treasurer of Yale College, and awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree. He was a professor of religion for many years, and engaged in lengthy correspondences with some of the greatest theologians of the time.
In 1783 he and Richard Law were appointed to massively revise the confused and archaic Connecticut statutes, which they accomplished with great success. In 1784 he was elected
Mayor of New Haven, which office he held until his death. He is especially notable for being the only person to sign all four great state papers of the United States: the United States Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Association, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. Only one other person, Robert Morris, signed 3 of these documents (not the Articles of Association).
At the start of the
Revolutionary Warin 1775 Sherman was appointed to the Connecticut Governor's Council of Safety and also commissary to the Connecticut Troops. He was elected to the Continental Congressin 1774 and served very actively throughout the War, earning high esteem in the eyes of his fellow delegates and serving on the Committee of Fivethat drafted the Declaration of Independence.
During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, summoned into existence to amend the
Articles of Confederation, Sherman offered what came to be called the Great Compromise. In this plan, the people would be represented in the house by proportional representation in one branch of the legislature, called the House of Representatives. The states would be represented in another house called the Senate. Each state had a representative for every 30,000 people. In the upper house, on the other hand, each state was guaranteed two senators, no matter their size.
Sherman is also memorable for his stance against
paper moneyand his authoring of Article I Section 10 of the United States Constitution.
:"Mr. Wilson & Mr. Sherman moved to insert after the words "coin money" the words "nor emit bills of credit, nor make any thing but gold & silver coin a tender in payment of debts" making these prohibitions absolute, instead of making the measures allowable (as in the XIII art:) with the consent of the Legislature of the U.S. ... Mr. Sherman thought this a favorable crisis for crushing paper money. If the consent of the Legislature could authorize emissions of it, the friends of paper money would make every exertion to get into the Legislature in order to license it." [Farrand, Max, ed. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787.]
Mr. Sherman and other Founding Fathers feared that without prohibiting the States from making "any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts" that congress could simply print an endless supply of papery currency and force it upon its citizenry. This was a major issue predating the Constitution as English common law forced one colony to accept the inflated currency of another at face value. The result was that one could actually "make" money by redeeming notes of one colony for gold or silver coin in another. [A Caveat Against Injustice or an Inquiry into the Evils of a Fluctuating Medium of Exchange., New York, Roger Sherman, 1752.] This, and other "evils" of paper money are well documented by Roger Sherman in his highly influential book "A Caveat Against Injustice or An Inquiry into the Evils of a Fluctuating Medium of Exchange".
Rogers Sherman's descendants, in the third and fourth generations and later, via the associated Baldwin, Hoar & Sherman families have been influential political participants and office holders in United States history, especially in the 19th century.
Roger Sherman was a first cousin twice removed of
Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin. Sherman's mother Mehitable Wellington and Whitney's great-grandmother Elizabeth Wellington were siblings. It has been suggested that both of them were descended from Edward I of England.
Archibald Cox, famous for his firing during the Saturday Night Massacrewas a direct descendant of Roger Sherman.
Roger Sherman's grandson and namesake,
Roger Sherman Baldwinearned his place in history as as US Senator and was one of two lawyers descended from members of the original Committee of Fivewho successfully argued for the freedom of approximately 50 Mendemen, women, and children involved in the AmistadSupreme Court case of 1841.
He is buried in the
Grove Street Cemeteryin New Haven, and his grave is the center of the city's 4th of Julycelebrations.
Places and things named in honor of Roger Sherman
* The town of
Sherman, Connecticutis named in honor of Roger Sherman.
* Sherman Avenue in central
Madison, Wisconsinis named in honor of Roger Sherman. Most of the main streets in Downtown Madison are named after signers of the United States Constitution. Naturally, there is also a Sherman Avenue in New Haven, which extends into neighboring Hamden.
* The official name of the policy debate team at
Western Connecticut State Universityis the " Roger Sherman Debate Society".
There is a Sherman Street in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood of Brooklyn that is named for Roger Sherman. This was mentioned in the book Brooklyn By Name byLeonard Bernardo and Jennifer Weiss
*Dictionary of American Biography
*Boardman, Roger Sherman, "Roger Sherman, Signer and Statesman," 1938. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1971.
*Boutell, Lewis Henry, "The Life of Roger Sherman," Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1896.
*Boyd, Julian P., “Roger Sherman: Portrait of a Cordwainer Statesman.” New England Quarterly 5 (1932): 221-36.
*Collier, Christopher; "Roger Sherman’s Connecticut: Yankee Politics and the American Revolution," Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1971.
*Gerbr, Scott D., "Roger Sherman and the Bill of Rights." Polity 28 (Summer 1996): 521-540.
*Hoar, George Frisbie, "The Connecticut Compromise. Roger Sherman, the Author of the Plan of Equal Representation of the States in the Senate, and Representation of the People in Proportion to Numbers in the House," Worcester, MA: Press of C. Hamilton, 1903.
*Rommel, John G., "Connecticut’s Yankee Patriot: Roger Sherman," Hartford: American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Connecticut, 1980.
* [http://www.colonialhall.com/sherman/sherman.php From Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, "Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence", 1856]
* [http://www.stoughtonhistory.com History of Sherman's boyhood home of Stoughton, Massachusetts]
*Find A Grave|id=950
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