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David Brearley - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Monday, December 23, 2019

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Birth: June 11, 1745
Death: August 16, 1790 (age 49)
Colony: New Jersey
Occupation: Lawyer, soldier, Politician, Judge
Significance: Signed the United States Constitution (at the age of 42); and served as a United States District Court Judge (1789-1790)

David Brearley Statue in Signers' Hall at the National Constitution Center

David Brearley was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, and he attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) where he studied law. During the American Revolution, Brearley first served in the Monmouth County Militia. In 1776, Brearley served in the Continental Army until 1779. Brearley bravely fought in the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of Germantown, among other battles.

Brearley was named as a representative of New Jersey to serve as a member of the Constitutional Convention which met in Philadelphia during the Summer of 1787. At the Constitutional Convention, Brearley was the Chairman of the Committee on Postponed Parts, an influential position that helped to resolve many aspects of the new government that were being disputed among the delegates. For example, many topics including the term length of the President to how handle patents all made their way through Brearley's committee. On September 17, 1787, Brearley was one of 39 delegates who signed the Constitution of the United States.

After the ratification of the United States Constitution, Brearley was nominated by President George Washington to serve as a judge for the United States District Court in New Jersey. Brearley died less than a year later in 1790.

David Brearley in Philadelphia

Brearley actually fought in what is present day Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Germantown took place in what was then an independent city outside of Philadelphia, but is today located within city limits. Brearley first lived in Philadelphia when he helped to write the United States Constitution as a member of the Constitutional Convention, which met at Independence Hall in 1787. Today, you can also see a statue commemorating Brearley 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 Brearley who signed the Constitution of the United States. The National Constitution Center, Signers' Garden and Independence Hall are all visited along The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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