Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers, once said ‘That is Mr. Sherman, of Connecticut, a man who never said a foolish thing in his life’. Such reflective and deep words were for none other than Roger Sherman, who was not only one of the most influential political leaders of his time, but was also one of the dignitaries who witnessed numerous historic events, that would at once, change the face of America and its structure. One of the chief political leaders and Founding Fathers, Roger Sherman was a delegate to a number of American committees and donned a number of governmental hats. Not only was he on the board that drafted the prestigious Declaration of Independence, he was also a delegate to the Continental Congress and a member of the well-known Federal Constitutional Convention. An insightful thinker, analyst and lawyer, Roger Sherman was believed to be a profound, yet original intellectual and owing to his conservative disposition, his judgment was sound and his wide experiences led him to have a long and fulfilling political career. Roger Sherman also served as the first mayor of New Haven Connecticut and was also the United States Senator for a brief period of time. His humble beginnings supplemented his career, which eventually helped his assume leadership in his community and finally make a mark on the map of America. To learn more about this intriguing personality, scroll further.
Childhood & Early Life
Roger Sherman was born on April 19, 1721, in Newton Massachusetts.
At the age of 2, Sherman’s family moved to Stoughton, where he grew and became a part of Canton in 1797.
As a boy, he was spurred by desire to study and read widely in his spare time, to complement his minimal education at a public school.
However, he spent most part of his childhood as a shoe-maker and learning the cobbler’s trade, along with a few farming chores with his father.
Sherman had access to a library owned by his father, which is where he did most of his learning, before the parish minister, Reverend Samuel Dunbar, took him under his wing.
In 1743, Sherman’s father passed away, following which, he and his family had to literally, travel on foot till they reached Connecticut.
Here, Sherman and his brother, opened the town’s first store. It was during this time, he was introduced to politics and soon found himself involved in public service.
His political career started when he became the surveyor of New Haven County in 1745.
Roger Sherman was admitted to the Bar of Litchfield, Connecticut in 1754. It was during this time he authored ‘A Caveat Against Injustice’, an American classic on currency, coin and circulation.
He was chosen to represent New Milford in the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1755 to 1758 and from 1760 to 1761.
Sherman was appointed the justice of peace in 1762.
He was elected to the Governor’s Council in 1766, which he served until 1785. Around the same time, Roger Sherman became a member of the prestigious Connecticut Committee of Safety, which he served from 1777 to 1779.
During the Constitutional Convention on 1787, Sherman was summoned to amend the important Articles of Confederation. At the same time, he created the famous, ‘Three-Fifths Compromise’ along with James Wilson.
He provided astronomical calculations for yearbooks in 1788.
Sherman was made a member of the Federal House of Representatives from Connecticut’s At-large district on March 4, 1789, which he served till March 4, 1791. It was during this time, he performed his greatest public service.
In a bitter conflict between the large state party and the small state party, Sherman and his colleagues, acted as arbitrators. Their share in bringing about the final bill, which provided for equal representation in one house and relative representation in the other, became so important, that it was eventually called the ‘Connecticut Compromise’.
During his term with the Federal Congress, he supported the assumption of the state arrears, the launch of national banks and the protective tariff policy.
In 1790, he was appointed to review the statutes of Connecticut, along with Richard Law.
He was appointed as the United States Senator from Connecticut, which he served from June 13, 1791 to July 23, 1793.
A Caveat Against Justice
The Regulation of Monopoly
He was the only person who signed all four great state papers of the United States; The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Association, the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution.
He created the ‘Three-Fifths Compromise’ along with James Wilson.
He acted as a peacemaker during the ‘Connecticut Compromise’.
He also authored ‘Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution’.
Awards & Achievements
Roger Sherman was appointed treasurer of Yale College.
He was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree
Personal Life & Legacy
Roger Sherman married Elizabeth Hartwell, who died during childbirth. He had 7 children from his first marriage.
He then married Rebecca Minot Prescott on May 12, 1763, with whom Sherman fathered 8 children. Many of Sherman’s children and close kin became prominent personalities.
Roger Sherman passed away in his sleep on July 23, 1793 after he was diagnosed with typhoid fever. He was buried in New Haven Green and in 1821, when the cemetery was relocated, Sherman’s remains were interred in Grove Street Cemetery.
Today, a number of towns, streets and statues are named after Roger Sherman such as Town of Sherman, Sherman Avenue in Connecticut and a statue at the National Constitution Center in Pennsylvania, respectively.