Bullet-Point Bio: Roger Sherman

Roger Sherman

-One of our delegates from Connecticut.

-He is the only person to have signed all four great state papers of the United States: the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution.

-Lived from April 19th, 1721 – July 23rd, 1793

-Born in Newton, Massachusetts.

-His father was a farmer and shoemaker.

-Growing up, Roger had a great love for studying many subjects including theology, politics, and law.

-Roger learned the art of shoemaking from his father.  

-He was 19 when his father died.  Roger cared for his younger brothers and sisters by working as a cobbler.

-Roger moved the family to New Milford, Connecticut to be near an older brother.

-He would study while he worked – often with a book propped up on his cobbler’s bench.

-He learned mathematics, becoming a surveyor in 1745.

-Surveying gave Roger some extra income and enabled him to pay for his younger brothers’ education.

-He made astronomical observations that were published in an almanac in New York.

-When Roger was 28, he married his hometown sweetheart, Elizabeth Hartwell.  They had seven children before Elizabeth’s death at age 34.

-He later married Rebecca Prescott.  They had eight children.

-He became interested in law, studied on his own, and was admitted to the bar.  He began practicing law at age 33.

-In 1774, Sherman was appointed to the Continental Congress.

-He took a strong stand for colonial rights and served in Congress for the rest of his life.

-He served on many committees including the committee of war, the maritime committee, and the board of treasury.

-He was also appointed to the committee to help daft the Declaration of Independence.  Thomas Jefferson had a great respect for Sherman.

-He died at age 72 from typhoid fever.

-There are a couple of towns and many streets named after him.

-Author Dennis Fradin wrote of him,

 “One of Sherman’s greatest service[s] to the nation came in 1787 when he helped forge the U.S. Constitution, which replaced the early national laws called the Articles of Confederation.  Sherman helped solve a giant problem.  The states with large populations wanted to have more lawmakers than those with fewer people.  The small states were afraid that if that happened, they wouldn’t have much power.  Sherman introduced the Connecticut Compromise: Heavily populated states would have more members in the House of Representatives, but each state would have an equal number of U.S. Senators.  This system was adopted and has worked well for more than two centuries.  Sherman’s compromise may have inspired Connecticut’s nickname, the Constitution State.”

-Author John Sanders wrote of him,

“In the controversy which arose between Great Britain and her colonies, Mr. Sherman was one of those who from the commencement of hostilities, foresaw the necessity of our entire union and complete independence, and urged, with energy, the boldest and most decisive measures.  He engaged in the defense of our liberties, not with the rash ardour of political enthusiasm, nor the ambitious zeal of a lover of popularity, but with the deliberate firmness of the undertaking, able to foresee dangers, resolute to meet them, and sagacious in devising the means of successful opposition.”

-Jonathan Edwards said of Sherman,

“When he resided at home, he was accustomed, as a peculiar gratification, to retire to his closet, and commit his thoughts to writing, or extract from books the wisdom of other times.  His mind was always employed; and those hours which were not interrupted by business, or public engagements, were generally devoted to reading and contemplation.  The volume which he consulted most especially, was the Bible: it was his custom to purchase a Bible at the commencement of every session of congress, to peruse it daily, and to present it to one of his children on his return.  To his familiar acquaintance with the pages of inspiration may be attributed much of that extraordinary sagacity which he uniformly exhibited.”

John Adams wrote of Roger Sherman,

“…he was one of the most sensible men in the world.  The clearest head and the stoutest heart…Mr. Sherman…was one of the soundest and strongest pillars of the revolution.”

-Some of his other public service included:

  • Being appointed county surveyor
  • Serving as a member of the Connecticut Legislature
  • Serving as judge of the court of common pleas of Litchfield County
  • Serving as judge of the court of common pleas of New Haven County
  • Serving as a member of the governor’s council of Connecticut 
  • Serving as judge of the superior court of Connecticut 
  • Serving as Treasurer of Yale College
  • Serving as delegate from Connecticut to the Continental Congress
  • Serving as delegate from Connecticut to the Congress of the Confederation
  • Serving as the 1st Mayor of New Haven, Connecticut 
  • Serving as a member of the Constitutional  Convention
  • Serving as representative from Connecticut in the United States Congress
  • Serving as U.S. Senator from Connecticut 




-Photo credit: Wikipedia public domain (see specifics below)


For You They Signed, 2009, Marilyn Boyer 

The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence, Dennis Brindell Fradin, 2002

Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, John Sanderson, 1823

Founders of Freedom in America: Lives of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence and so Helped to Establish the United States of America, David C. Whitney, 1964

Specific photo copyright information required:

This image is a work of an employee of the Architect of the Capitol, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, all images created or made by the Architect of the Capitol are in the public domain in the United States, with the exception of classified information. Architect of the Capitol logo
Public domain This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or less.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s