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Robert Treat Paine - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

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Birth: March 11, 1731
Death: May 11, 1814 (aged 83)
Colony: Massachusetts
Occupation: Lawyer, Politician, Judge
Significance: Signed The Declaration of Independence (at the age of 45); served as Massachusetts Attorney General and as a Judge on the Massachusetts Supreme Court

Robert Treat Paine

Robert Treat Paine was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in Massachusetts to a Baptist Reverend, Paine attended Boston Latin School and Harvard College. After completing his education, Paine began practicing law. Paine was the lawyer who conducted the prosecution of the British Soldiers who committed the Boston Massacre, but opposing counsel was John Adams who succeeded in convincing the jury of the innocence of the majority of the soldiers.

In 1774, Paine was voted to be one of Massachusetts' representatives to the First Continental Congress. The following year, Paine was re-elected and served in the Second Continental Congress. Paine voted for Independence, and he signed The Declaration of Independence. After signing The Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776, Paine traveled to Massachusetts shortly thereafter.

Back in Massachusetts, Paine was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and served as a member of the executive council. Paine also helped to to write the Massachusetts Constitution and was subsequently named the Massachusetts Attorney General from 1777 until 1790, at which point he was elected to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, a position he held until his retirement in 1804. Paine died 1814 at the age of 83.

Robert Treat Paine in Philadelphia

Paine arrived in Philadelphia as a Delegate to the First Continental Congress which met at Carpenters' Hall in September 1774. Paine returned to Philadelphia the following year in 1775 as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. While serving as a member of the Second Continental Congress, Paine worked at Independence Hall, and he would eventually sign The Declaration of Independence.

A plaque commemorating Paine for signing The Declaration of Independence can be found on Signers' Walk on the 600 block of Chestnut Street (between 5th and 6th Streets). 

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