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Henry Marchant - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2020

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Birth: April 9, 1741
Death: August 30, 1796 (age 55)
Colony: Rhode Island
Occupation: Lawyer, Politician
Significance: Signed The Articles of Confederation (at the age of 37); served in the Continental Congress(1777-1779); served as the First United States District Judge of Rhode Island (1790-1796)

Henry Marchant

Henry Marchant was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in Massachusets, Marchant traveled to Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania and study law. After receiving his degree in 1762, Marchant began his legal career in Newport, Rhode Island. Marchant had great success in his field, and in 1771, he was appointed the Attorney General of Rhode Island and held the position until 1777.

While serving as Rhode Island's Attorney General, Marchant watched as tensions erupted between the American Colonies and the British and the Revolutionary War began. Marchant supported the revolutionary cause, and in 1777, Marchant stepped down as Attorney General of Rhode Island to serve in the Second Continental Congress.  While in the Continental Congress, Marchant was among the first first to sign the Articles of Confederation on July 9, 1778 after the Articles were ratified by his colony of Rhode Island. 

Marchant returned to Rhode Island in 1779, and he continued working as a lawyer. In 1784, Marchant was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and he held the position until he stepped down in 1790 when President George Washington appointed him as the First United States District Judge of Rhode Island. Marchant served in this role until his death in 1796.

Henry Marchant in Philadelphia

Henry Marchant first traveled to Philadelphia as a young man to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1762. In 1777, Marchant returned to Philadelphia to serve as a member of the Second Continental Congress. While in the Continental Congress, Marchant worked at Independence Hall, where he signed The Articles of Confederation. 

Today, Independence Hall and the original location of the University of Pennsylvania are among the stops visited along The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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