George Clymer
Born(1739-03-16)March 16, 1739
DiedJanuary 23, 1813(1813-01-23) (aged 73)
Resting placeFriends Burying Ground
Trenton, New Jersey
Known forFounding Father of the United States
Spouse(s)
Elizabeth Meredith
(m. 1765)
Children10
Signature

George Clymer (March 16, 1739 – January 23, 1813) was an American politician and Founding Father of the United States, signing both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Although fact-checkers claim he never held slaves,[1] it would appear that Clymer held slaves as some point in his life. [2] He was one of the first Patriots to advocate complete independence from Britain.[3] He attended the Continental Congress and served in political office until the end of his life.

Early life and family

Clymer was born in Philadelphia in the Province of Pennsylvania on March 16, 1739. Orphaned when only a year old, he was apprenticed to his maternal aunt and uncle,[4] Hannah and William Coleman, to prepare to become a merchant. He married Elizabeth Meredith on March 22, 1765. In a letter written by Clymer to the rector of Christ Church, the Reverend Richard Peters, Clymer states that he had previously fathered a child; neither the child's nor mother's name is mentioned.[5] Clymer and his wife had nine children, four of whom died in infancy. His oldest surviving son, Henry (born 1767), married the Philadelphia socialite Mary Willing in 1794. John Meredith, Margaret, George, and Ann also survived to adulthood, though John Meredith was killed in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1787 at age 18.[6]

Career

Clymer was a patriot and leader in the demonstrations in Philadelphia resulting from the Tea Act and the Stamp Act. Clymer accepted the command as a leader of a volunteer corps belonging to General John Cadwalader's brigade.[7] In 1759, he was inducted as a member of the original American Philosophical Society.[8] He became a member of the Philadelphia Committee of Safety in 1773 and was elected to the Continental Congress 1776–1780. Clymer shared the responsibility of being treasurer of the Continental Congress with Michael Hillegas. He served on several committees during his first congressional term and was sent with Sampson Mathews to inspect the northern army at Fort Ticonderoga on behalf of Congress in the fall of 1776.[9] When Congress fled Philadelphia in the face of Sir Henry Clinton's threatened occupation, Clymer stayed behind with George Walton and Robert Morris. Clymer’s business ventures during and after war served to increase his wealth. In 1779 and 1780, Clymer and his son Meredith engaged in a lucrative trade with Sint Eustatius. Although not partial to the merchant business, Clymer continued in business with his father-in-law and brother-in-law until 1782.[10]

Summerseat, Clymer's home
Summerseat, Clymer's home

He resigned from Congress in 1777 and in 1780 was elected to a seat in the Pennsylvania Legislature. In 1782, he was sent on a tour of the southern states in a vain attempt to get the legislatures to pay up on subscriptions due to the central government. He was re-elected to the Pennsylvania legislature in 1784 and represented his state at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. He was elected to the first U.S. Congress in 1789.

He was the first president of the Philadelphia Bank and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and vice-president of the Philadelphia Agricultural Society. When Congress passed a bill imposing a duty on spirits distilled in the United States in 1791, Clymer was placed as head of the excise department in the state of Pennsylvania. He was also one of the commissioners to negotiate a treaty with the Creek Indian confederacy at Colerain, Georgia on June 29, 1796. He is considered the benefactor of Indiana Borough, as it was he who donated the property for a county seat in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.

Clymer died on January 23, 1813. He was buried at the Friends Burying Ground in Trenton, New Jersey.

Legacy

USS George Clymer (APA-27) was named in his honor.[11] Clymer, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, was named in his honor as was Clymer, New York.[12] There is a George Clymer Elementary School in the School District of Philadelphia. Clymer's home in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, known as Summerseat, still stands, as does a house he owned in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park known as Ridgeland Mansion. One of the streets running alongside Summerseat in Morrisville is Clymer Avenue.

In Reading, Pennsylvania, Clymer Street is named in his honor. In the Leedom Estates section of Ridley Township, Pennsylvania, Clymer Lane is named after him.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Thirty-four of the 47 men depicted in the famous "Declaration of Independence" painting were slaveholders". Polifact. November 28, 2021. Archived from the original on July 15, 2021.
  2. ^ "Declaration Signer George Clymer Autograph Letter Signed Regarding a Slave Exchange". natedsanders.com. Archived from the original on November 11, 2021.
  3. ^ "George Clymer". The Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. December 11, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2020. George was orphaned at the age of seven. His father’s portion of the sizeable inheritance had dwindled considerably; although having seen some success as a captain of a privateer preying on French merchantmen in the Caribbean, Christopher left him very little – a few personal items and a Negro man, who died within a year. But George’s grandfather rectified the situation, favoring him in his will when he died in 1750, leaving him at the age of eleven with means of his own.
  4. ^ Carpenter, Louis Henry (1912). Samuel Carpenter and his descendants. J.B. Lippincott. p. 257.
  5. ^ Grundfest, Jerry (1982). George Clymer, Philadelphia revolutionary, 1739-1813. New York: Arno Press. pp. 32–33.
  6. ^ Burnell, George Clymer the Signer
  7. ^ Losser, B.J. (1857). Biographical Sketches of the Signers of the American Declaration of Independence. New York: Derby & Jackson. p. 115. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  8. ^ Bell, Whitfield J., and Charles Greifenstein, Jr. Patriot-Improvers: Biographical Sketches of Members of the American Philosophical Society. 3 vols. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1997, I:18, 236, 237-47, 457, II:35-36, 41, 42, 44, 257, 342, 343, III:133, 491.
  9. ^ Pieper, Thomas, and Gidney, James (1980). Fort Laurens, 1778–1779: The Revolutionary War in Ohio. Kent State University Press, p 13. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  10. ^ Losser, B.J. (1857). Biographical Sketches of the Signers of the American Declaration of Indendence. New York: Derby & Jackson. p. 115. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  11. ^ "History of USS George Clymer (APA-27)".
  12. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 85.
U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byDistrict Created Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania's at-large congressional district 1789–1791 alongside: Thomas Fitzsimons, Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, Thomas Hartley, Thomas Scott, Henry Wynkoop, Daniel Hiester and Peter G. Muhlenberg Succeeded byAt large on a general ticket: Thomas Fitzsimons, Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, Thomas Hartley, Israel Jacobs, John W. Kittera, Daniel Hiester, William Findley, and Andrew Gregg