Who Was Roger Sherman?
Roger Sherman (April 19, 1721 to July 23, 1793) is an American hero and a champion of Liberty.
One of the most important and influential of the Founding Fathers, Roger Sherman had a profound influence on our Nation’s establishment and Constitution. He has the sole and great distinction of being the only person to sign the four major documents of the Revolutionary period: the Articles of Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution.
Born in Massachusetts, Roger Sherman moved to New Milford, Connecticut in 1743. Apprenticed as a cobbler, he was a bright and studious young man. Over the next decade he became a merchant, surveyor, town clerk, church deacon, and lawyer, being admitted to the bar in 1754. Admired by the people of Litchfield County, Sherman was elected by them that year to serve in the colonial legislature.
In 1761 he moved to New Haven, opening a store near Yale, and developed a strong relationship with the school that would last until his death. He continued his engagement in public service: from 1764 to 1785 he served in both houses of the colonial legislature.
Angered by the British Parliament’s involvement in colonial affairs, he became an early member of the Patriotic Cause, leading the New Haven Committee of Correspondence.
In 1774 he was elected to the Continental Congress. Highly respected by his colleagues – Thomas Jefferson famously said of him “There is Mr. Sherman of Connecticut, who never said a foolish thing in his life” – Sherman was appointed to the Committee of Five assigned to draft the Declaration of Independence. He was an active member of the Congress throughout the Revolutionary War.
During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Sherman helped the delegates overcome a major roadblock when he proposed the Connecticut Compromise, which established a federal legislative branch of government consisting of a House and a Senate, giving some acceptable sharing of power between small and large states.
In addition to helping write the Constitution – Sherman is the author of the Article One, Section 10 restrictions on paper money – he was very engaged in lobbying the public for its adoption, most notably via letters he wrote to the New Haven Gazette in 1788. Among them are Observations on the New Federal Constitution, which can be found here, and Observations on the Alterations Proposed as Amendments to the New Federal Constitution, which can be found here.
The text of Sherman’s treatise on paper money and inflation, A Caveat Against Injustice, can be found here.
Sherman was elected Mayor of New Haven in 1784, and served in that position until his death in 1793. He is buried in New Haven. He also played a major role in helping Connecticut revise its statutes after the end of the colonial period.
His national service never flagged. Sherman was also elected as a Member of the first United States House of Representatives in 1789, and in 1791 was appointed to the United States Senate to replace William Johnson, who had resigned. Sherman served in that capacity until his death.