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Gunning Bedford, Jr. - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Friday, December 20, 2019

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Birth: 1747 (exact date unknown)
Death: March 30, 1812 (at the age of approximately 64)
Colony: Delaware
Occupation: Lawyer
Significance: Signed the United States Constitution (at the age of 30); served as Attorney General of Delaware from (1784 to 1789); and served as a Federal District Court Judge in Delaware (1789-1812)

Gunning Bedford, Jr. Statue in Signers' Hall at the National Constitution Center

Gunning Bedford, Jr. was born in Philadelphia to a prominent family and graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1771. After graduation, Bedford moved to Delaware and began practicing law. When the Revolutionary War broke out, Bedford left his law practice to fight in the Revolutionary War. In 1783, Bedford was elected to serve in the Continental Congress (Congress of the Confederation) which met in his hometown of Philadelphia.

Due to the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, the Continental Congress was forced to leave Philadelphia for Princeton, New Jersey (Bedford's college town). While the Continental Congress was located in Princeton, Bedford continued to serve as a Delegate thereto. By the time that Bedford left the Continental Congress in 1786, the Capital city of the United States was located in New York City.

Bedford was later also named as a member of the Constitutional Convention which met in Philadelphia in the Summer of 1787. At the Constitutional Convention, Bedford was a strong voice for the rights of small states and helped to debate, draft and sign the United States Constitution

Bedford also served as the Attorney General of New Jersey from 1784 until 1789, at which point he was named by President George Washington to be a Federal District Court Judge in Delaware, and he served in this position until his death in 1812.

Gunning Bedford, Jr. in Philadelphia

Gunning Bedford, Jr. lived in Philadelphia for much of his life since the city was his hometown where he grew up. Bedford again lived in Philadelphia while a member of the Second Continental Congress in 1783. While a member of the Continental Congress, Bedford worked at Independence Hall. Bedford once again worked in Independence Hall when he helped to write the Constitution of the United States as a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Today, you can also see a statue commemorating Bedford for his role in the creation of the United States Constitution in the Signers' Hall exhibit of the National Constitution Center. Signers' Garden pays tribute to the Founding Fathers, including those such as Bedford who signed the Constitution of the United States. The National Constitution Center, Independence Hall and Signers' Garden are stops visited along The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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