Posted: October 17th, 2013
Roger Sherman is among the founding fathers of America, born in Newton, Massachusetts in April 19, 1721. He was a politician, lawyer and also a cobbler at his younger days. Roger was among the few people in America who signed all the four documents of the time that were most important in establishing a new united nation. The four papers he signed were the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. During his life, he served as a mayor in New Haven, Connecticut, served on a committee of five that was charged with drafting the declaration of independence, and was a representative in the newly formed republic, as well as a senator (Sanderson, 2009).
At the age of two, his family moved to Stoughton, 27 kilometers South of Boston. Sherman, being born in a humble family, did not get the best of education. His education went as far as his father’s library. In his early ages, he spent his life as a shoemaker (Furgang, 2002). However, his drive to learn at an early age drove him to read many books during his free time considering his father had a library and had access to many books. He also helped his father with farming most of the time, and learning the work of a cobbler form him as well. After his father’s death in 1941, he went to live with his elder brother in New Milford, Connecticut two years later (Furgang, 2002).
His sheer determination and the knowledge from reading books led to his success where he purchased and opened up a store and went on to become a county surveyor. With his new influential position, he was able to acquire land to become one of the major landowners. He went on to serve in other offices in the town, such as a juryman, deacon, court clerk, and a school committee member (Rutledge, 2011). Through his position, his prosperity increased and his fame as well, making him a leader within the community. His passion for knowledge drove him to learn law, which later led to his admission to the bar, where his distinguished legal role in the community started.
In 1755 to 1761, Sherman was elected as a colonial legislator and a judge at the Litchfield County justice for peace, a county judge in 1759. He was also served with the responsibility of organizing supplies to militia during the French and Indian war (Furgang, 2002). Despite all his work in public offices and his own work, he managed to publish an article concerning monetary theory and other issues meant to criticize the importing of goods that was a serious threat to the growth of the economy. After 1771, he sold some of his possessions and businesses and left his law practice to go to New Haven where he established two stores, with one focusing on students of Yale, and the other in Wallingford. Through his work and devotion, he became a benefactor to the Yale College and worked in their treasury for several years. He was later recognized for his work, and earned an honorary master’s degree (Furgang, 2002).
All this time he was still a justice of peace in the county, and was promoted to become an associate judge in the Connecticut superior court. He was later enrolled in the two houses of the ‘colonial assembly’ in the lower house during 1764 to 66, and in the upper house between 1766 to 85. His prowess in the political arena prospered and took even bigger roles in the matters of the nation. During the mid 1770 and early 1780s, he was quite influential in the continental congress, being among the first people who denied the parliament any right to make the laws of America. Being in the committee that was held with the responsibility of drafting the declaration of independence, as well as articles of confederation, he was quite ardent in politics of revolution (Rutledge, 2011).
Sherman also played a major role in the constitutional convention, where he represented his state. He was one of the main people in making the constitutional convention, where he stood for a government concentrated by executive rather than a fully democratic one. He was the one who came up with the Connecticut compromise, which was meant to solve representation of the smaller states. He suggested that there be equal representation despite the size of the state. He also suggested two houses, the House of Representatives, which would be based on population of the state, while the higher house of senate represented all states equally. This came to solve the problem of representation in the United States.
After his role in the Constitutional convention, Sherman went on to fight in the ratification war of the constitution, showing his interest through publishing several letters in New Haven Gazette that he entitled ‘To the People of Connecticut from a Countryman.’ He later withdrew from being a judge in the superior court to gain entrance as a representative in the First Congress in 1789 to 91. During this time, he was among the leaders that advocated for protecting the local manufacturer from imported goods through imposition of import tariffs. He also opposed the federal government from taking up responsibility for state financial affairs such as debts. In addition, he went ahead to oppose the amending of the constitution, and later went on to serve as a senate replacing William Samuel Johnson in 1791. Two years later, he died in his sleep after ailing for about two months with typhoid fever (Sanderson, 2009).
Sherman was a man who had many superiors above him, but through his sound judgment and reasoning, he managed to convince many of them who listened to him (Sanderson, 2009). Sherman was also a very religious man, even refusing to the appointment of a delegate on bases of lack of religion. Sherman showed skills of leadership and devotion at an early age, considering he never received any formal education like most of his counterparts in the leadership positions who were experts in matters of the state. However, this did not deter him from becoming an educated man. This was a demonstration of sheer determination, coming from a cobbler to a senator, and among the few that have their signatures in the four important papers of the United States.
Furgang, K. (2002). The Declaration of Independence and Roger Sherman of Connecticut. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group
Rutledge, E. (2011). Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Retrieved from: http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/sherman.htm
Sanderson, J. (2009). Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, Volume 3. New York, NY: Applewood Books
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