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Richard Bassett - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Friday, December 20, 2019

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Birth: April 2, 1745
Death: August 15, 1815 (age 70)
Colony: Delaware
Occupation: Lawyer, Judge, Politician
Significance: Signed the United States Constitution (at the age of 42); served as United States Senator (1789-1793); served as Governor of Delaware from (1799 to 1801); and served as a Federal District Court Judge in Delaware (1801-1802)

Richard Bassett Statue in Signers' Hall at the National Constitution Center

Richard Bassett was born in Maryland where he studied law. Bassett then moved to Delaware and began a long career practicing law. Bassett's law career was interupted by the American Revolutionary War as he joined the Delaware Council of Safety in 1776 and then the Delaware Militia in 1777 where he served until 1781.  After large scale fighting in the Revolutionary War ceased in 1781, Bassett returned to Delaware where he was elected to the Delaware Legislative Council and continued to serve in the Delaware state government until 1786.  

in 1787 Bassett was named a member of the Constitutional Convention which met in Philadelphia. At the Constitutional Convention, Bassett represented Delaware and helped to debate, draft and sign the United States Constitution

Bassett was elected to the United States Senate in 1789 to represent the state of Delaware.  As Senators are admitted into the Senate one at a time in alphabetcal order, Bassett holds the distinction of being the first United States Senator.  Bassett would also serve as the Governor of Delaware from 1799 - 1801 before retiring and returning to Maryland where he grew up.  Bassett lived out his last years in Maryland as a plantation owner before dying in 1815 at the age of 70.

Richard Bassett in Philadelphia

Bassett first lived in Philadelphia when he helped to write the United States Constitution as a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, which met at Independence Hall.  Bassett also worked in Congress Hall as a United States Senator while Philadelphia was the Capital of the United States. Today, you can also see a statue commemorating Bassett 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 Bassett who signed the Constitution of the United States. The National Constitution Center, Congress Hall, Signers' Garden and Independence Hall are all visited on The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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