The only man who signed all four founding documents (The Continental Association, The Articles of Confederation, The Declaration of Independence, and The Constitution) that transformed thirteen English colonies into the United States. Thomas Jefferson stood outside the halls of congress late one afternoon and with the hand that penned the Declaration of Independence, he pointed across the steps and said in a loud voice to those assembled around him “There goes a man who never said a foolish thing in his life”. The Federalist Fisher Ames once said, speaking of the same man “If I am absent during the discussion of a subject, and consequently know not on which side to vote, I always look at [him], for I am sure if I vote with him I shall vote right.” How can it be, that a man who was there at every turn during the birth of this nation, who had the respect and admiration of the great men around him, has a name that escapes us?
Like Jefferson did so long ago I would like to direct your attention to the object of his praise – Roger Sherman of Connecticut. Like Franklin and Hamilton, Sherman was successful at a young age, after being born into challenging circumstances. Also like those men he knew how to leverage the opportunities at hand. In his case there were two, the robust library left to him by his father, and a mentor in the person of Samuel Dunbar, the Harvard-educated minister who tutored him in mathematics, sciences, literature and philosophy.
When he was only age nineteen his father, William, died. As his older brother had moved to New Milford, Connecticut earlier, responsibility for the nearly destitute family devolved on him. He kept things together for two years before the family eventually followed his brother and also relocated to New Milford.
While in New Milford, he worked briefly as a cordwainer (shoemaker) before going into business with his brother to open the town’s first general store. They would later open another one in New Haven, after his subsequent move there, to cater to Yale students. Among the things sold in this store were a series of almanacs that he produced from 1750 to 1761. These included information on astronomy, religious festivals, weather, and his views on the values of colonial currencies. Also included were sayings of wisdom. They were not clever like those of a certain printer from Philadelphia, but it’s worth including a few of them as they provide some insight as to his character:
A faithful man in public is a Pillar in a Nation
Good Laws well executed, are the Bulwarks of Liberty and Property
He who by good Actions deserves well, needs not another’s praise
Publick good is to be preferred before private Interest
One day he had occasion to visit a neighboring town and, as a favor to a neighbor who had a legal matter he wished to pursue, Sherman agreed to visit an attorney to discuss the case on the neighbor’s behalf. Always prepared, he made some notes to help him through the discussion. After apparently conducting himself well in the consultation with the attorney, Sherman was asked for the notes, which he reluctantly surrendered. The lawyer remarked that, with a few minor adjustments, they were as good as anything he himself could have written. He recommended that Sherman pursue a career in the legal profession. Thus he began a self-study of the law, and with only this informal training was admitted to the bar in Connecticut in 1754. This would position him for many of the roles that were to follow. In fact, from 1755 to his death in 1793 he would hold one or more public offices.
First there was a series of local positions before he hit the national stage. These included three stints as a member of the Connecticut assembly (1755-1756, 1758-1761, 1764-1766), appointment as justice of the peace for Litchfield County (1755-1761), and of the quorum (1759-1761). His move to New Haven in June 1761 resulted in additional assignments such as justice of the peace and member of the court (1765-1766), election to the State senate (1766-1785), judge of the superior court (1766-1767 and 1773-1788), and member of the council of safety (1777-1779). He was later mayor of New Haven from 1784 until 1793.
His prominence in Connecticut politics led to his election in 1774 to the First Continental Congress, serving on the state’s delegation with Eliphalet Dyer and Silas Deane. Sherman had already been active and outspoken in pre-revolutionary causes. Historian Julian P. Boyd, in an article published in 1932, wrote:
As a prosperous merchant who objected to an external control over his trade, and as a Puritan who regarded the existing order as one that would retain its excellence only if kept intact, he naturally fell in with the Revolutionary movement. The enforcement of the Navigation Acts on the one hand, and the dubious prospect of an Anglican bishop in Connecticut on the other, struck at two of the main pillars in Sherman’s cosmos. He lacked the training in philosophy and jurisprudence that characterized the learned James Wilson and the radical Thomas Jefferson, but, surprising to relate, this orthodox and conservative Puritan stood with them in advance of his countrymen on the fringes of treason by declaring that Parliament had no right in any case to legislate for the colonies. He was one of the first to refer to the colonies as “distinct dominions” in the British Empire
Nicknamed “The Old Puritan,” he cut a distinct figure in the congresses and the Constitutional Convention with his reserved and plainspoken ways. As Boyd’s article asserts:
[He] was typical of the best that such a society could produce. As a private individual, he exemplified the Puritan virtues of self-reliance, industry, economy, strict morality, and devoutness. As a public official, he performed the duties of his office so as to safe guard the integrity of the established order as nearly as possible and with as much economy as possible.
Though as you will later see he was a persuasive speaker, he hardly had charismatic style. John Adams observed this immediately, in the First Continental Congress, recording in his diary “Sherman’s air is the reverse of grace; there cannot be a more striking contrast to beautiful action than the motion of his hands …. He has a clear head and sound judgment, but when he moves a hand in anything like action, Hogarth’s genius could not have invented a motion more opposite to grace.” Nevertheless, this ungainly man was no rube; he knew how to get things done.
The basic philosophy that would inform his actions throughout his work on the national government would please any states rights advocate. “1. defence agst. Foreign danger, 2. Agst internal disputes & a resort to force, 3. Treaties with foreign nations, 4. regulating foreign commerce, &drawing revenue from it … All other matter civil and criminal would be much better in the hands of the States.”
Armed with these skills and this philosophy, he made his way from Connecticut politics into the national realm. His role grew as each new document came up for drafting and ratification. As far as the Continental Association, I could find little evidence of any specific role he played in its development. This document was developed under the First Continental Congress and was subsequently approved by substantially the whole body (fifty-one of the fifty-six members).
His first major opportunity came with the Declaration of Independence. He was assigned to the committee of five designated to draft the Declaration. The other members were Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Robert Livingston of New York. While it was an honor to be part of this group, it would be hard to find a more subordinate role to hold than sharing committee responsibilities to draft a document with a writer with the skills of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson wrote the document, synthesizing the language of several other writings and declarations he had read. The history of who made the Committee edits is not well-documented (though the edits themselves are), but it appears Sherman had little role – it was mostly Franklin and Adams. The American Philosophical Society collection has a letter from Jefferson to Franklin asking for the latter’s review that appears to relate to the Declaration. Further changes were made by the Congress as a whole (much to Jefferson’s chagrin); Sherman could have had a hand in those, but whether he did is unknown. So he at least nominally had a high profile role, though in reality it is difficult to ascertain that he had a lot of influence. Roles providing more opportunity to shine were still to come.
Next was the Articles of Confederation. About a month prior to the issuance of the Declaration, Congress had set up three committees – the aforementioned committee to draft the Declaration, a committee comprising representatives from each state to write a document to govern the newly independent states (what eventually became the Articles), and a Board of War and Ordinance. Sherman was on all three, the only man who was, and it resulted in a backbreaking workload. He usually rose at 7:00 am and concluded his committee work for the day around 10:00 pm.
With respect to the Articles, there is not much documentation on the specifics of their deliberations, although we do know John Dickinson of Pennsylvania was the major drafter of the document. As would be expected, concerns centered on what would become a recurring theme, the balance of power between the national government and those of the states. As a states’ rights man, Sherman in all likelihood had a lot to say as far as specific provisions in the Articles and the one state one vote outcome that eventually resulted.
Once written, the question was how the Articles would be ratified. In an approach that pre-figures the Connecticut Compromise in the Constitution, Sherman proposed “the vote should be taken two ways; call the Colonies, and call the individuals (i.e. the members of Congress), and have a majority of both.”  As it turns out, the small states won the debate, and the Articles were ratified on a one state one vote basis. They were implemented in March 1781 following Maryland’s approval. Sherman’s Connecticut had been the fifth to ratify, in February 1778.
In the midst of all this, Sherman had state responsibilities in Connecticut with which to contend. In 1783-84 he worked along with Richard Law to completely review Connecticut’s laws from the colonial period and propose changes. A simple split was made: Sherman took statutes with names starting with A-L, Law the remainder. One of the first changes, which would echo later debates, was the development of Connecticut’s “Declaration of Rights.” Although this would appear to be a bill of rights, it was not part of the Connecticut constitution, but was statutory law, and even then was not fully implemented. Further, it was not authored by Sherman, though he included the rights in his revisions. His thinking on this would later be utilized in considering a national Bill of Rights. Further, the experience of overhauling Connecticut’s laws would expand his lawmaking skills.
Back to the national stage, next up was the Constitutional Convention, and it is here where Sherman took on an extremely active role, leading the opposition to James Madison and his Virginia Plan for an expansive view of federal power. The opposition role taken by Sherman and the coalition he formed was discussed in historian Jack N. Rakove’s Pulitizer Prize winning 1996 book “Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution” and expanded on in a series of articles published in The American Political Science Review (APSR) in 2005 and 2006. Keith L. Dougherty and Jac C. Heckelman state in an APSR article entitled “A Pivotal Voter from a Pivotal State: Roger Sherman at the Constitutional Convention” that “recently, scholars have studied the personal power of various delegates at the Constitutional Convention. In particular, Rakove (1996, 92) alluded to Roger Sherman’s ability to counter James Madison.” As political scientist David Brian Robertson of the University of Missouri noted in another APSR article, “Madison’s Opponents and Constitutional Design,” “thirty years older than Madison, Sherman came to the Convention with a formidable political reputation as a leading American statesman.” Rakove himself argues in “Original Meanings:” “America has had more Shermans in its politics than Madisons, and arguably too few of either, but it was the rivalry between their competing goals and political styles that jointly gave the Great Convention much of its drama and fascination – and also permitted its achievement.”“ Dougherty and Heckelman, in the same piece mentioned above, presented a more detailed description of the ways in which Sherman was particularly effective at derailing Madison’s agenda, indicating “Sherman skillfully used rhetoric, timing, and compromise to manipulate the design agenda and alternatives … He staked out positions diametrically opposed to Madison, and then expressed a readiness to compromise on a middle ground.”
The numbers support this narrative. According to Madison’s notes, Sherman made 138 separate speeches over the course of the Convention. Only three others made more. He also made 18 motions, which runs slightly below the average of all delegates who made 10 or more motions, and only 6 of his were passed (the second lowest percentage of the same group, though only slightly lower than Madison’s percentage). The cohesive Connecticut delegation consisting of Sherman, Oliver Ellsworth, and William Samuel Johnson was extremely active, registering by one accounting 265 speeches and motions, more than double the number for the next continuously represented state. Further, and perhaps more telling, 79 percent of its votes were against the Virginia Plan.
Sherman’s biggest contribution of all was the Connecticut Compromise, which managed to assuage the conflicting concerns of the large and small states by establishing equal representation in the Senate while having proportional representation by population in the House. Sherman cannily presented this as the first order of business on a Monday morning, June 11, an optimal time to fire a strike at Madison’s Virginia Plan as the delegates came in relaxed after the Sunday off. Although the equal representation component for the Senate went down to a nay vote that day, the proposal was now on the map and eventually passed. Besides taking a lot of wind out of the big state – small state issue, it also eliminated one of the major components of the Virginia Plan for a more empowered federal government. Also ensconced in the Constitution was a provision Sherman had proposed indicating that “[No] State, without its consent shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate”. This passed without dissent, making equal representation in the Senate permanent.
Rakove and the others were talking about more than just the Connecticut Compromise when they made the case that Sherman and the Connecticut delegation had pivotal influence of many of the convention votes. Sherman’s tactics in leading the opposition continued to result in hits to Madison’s Virginia Plan, via an opposition coalition that he continued to consolidate as the convention went on. The success of this opposition is seen in other victories such as a defeat of a federal veto of state legislation, and the enshrinement of the radical concept of dual sovereignty between the states and the national government into the constitution.
As the convention wore on, the frequency of these victories for Sherman and his coalition increased. Robertson’s article shows a table summarizing the conflicts between Sherman and Madison on specific issues arising during the debates. Of 39 issues cited, Sherman prevailed on 19, Madison on 10, and 7 resulted in compromises (the other three were interpretational issues for which no clear-cut winner is determinable).
Among Sherman’s wins were: Senate Term (Sherman six years vs. Madison nine), national veto of state laws (no vs. yes), and reducing the veto override to two-thirds (for vs. against). He was able to strike a compromise on the number of states required to ratify the constitution (unanimous or ten vs.seven with a majority of the population; ended up at nine). He lost on issues like popular election of the house (Sherman was against and Madison for) and the President appointing judges (Madison prevailed with a yes, though under the condition of the Senate’s “advice and consent”). It must be kept in mind that these votes are not Sherman vs. Madison as individuals, but whether the Convention decided upon Sherman’s or Madison’s position. While no one is arguing that Sherman, not Madison, assumes the mantle as “Father of the Constitution,” clearly Sherman had a bigger role than may have been previously understood.
History can always be interpreted in more than one way, and this is one interpretation, but it was a revelation to me that the “Father of the Constitution” lost more battles than he won at the Convention, and that the end product deviated as much as it did from Madison’s going-in strategy embodied in the Virginia plan. I see this not as a mark against Madison but rather as an indication of the skill of Sherman and the others in opposition and a measure of the degree of collaboration and compromise that was necessary to fashion a constitution that was acceptable to all parties.
Sherman, while not a match for Madison in the science of political theory (compare his case for ratification, which I’ll discuss below, to The Federalist), proved that he could more than compete in the rough and tumble of politics, and where necessary be a deal-maker and compromiser. Per Boyd:
If he was not grounded in the theory of government, he was, nevertheless, a master in the art of practical politics, and from the beginning he was a leader in the Continental Congress. If his revolutionary doctrines are surprising, no less so is his use of that adroit compromising and diplomatic “management” which are so essential to a mastery of statecraft. Puritans are not often found in attitudes of compromise with principles they hold in abhorrence, such, for instance, as slavery and democracy. Yet Sherman, perhaps more than any other, deserves the title of the Great Compromiser in the formative period of the Republic.
Robertson’s article concludes (bolds mine):
The Convention delegates who opposed James Madison’s Virginia Plan have had a far greater impact on American politics than most Americans appreciate ….. Undeniably, Madison’s opponents achieved much of what they sought. Led by Roger Sherman and the Connecticut delegation, they spoiled Madison’s strategy for the Convention. They altered key features of his Constitutional plan and engineered substitute provisions better suited to their states’ political interests … Madison’s Convention opponents, then, made the basic, enduring rules of American politics much more protective of the states, and more resistant to geographical redistribution, than the rules Madison set out to put in place. Because American politicians have had to play by these basic rules since 1789, Sherman and his allies have had a cumulative and lasting effect on the way American politics has evolved. Madison’s Convention opponents helped produce government that is more complicated and harder to use than any delegate expected (Robertson 2005)…. Yet if either Madison or his main opponents had walked away from the Constitutional Convention, it is difficult to imagine how the meeting would have produced a comparable political success. The political synergy between Madison and Sherman, then, very well may have been necessary for the Constitution’s adoption. 
To the point about the lasting impact some of the Sherman-driven compromises have had, Robertson goes on to state that, with respect to dual sovereignty in the economic sphere, “If the national government exercised this uncontested commercial authority (that is, on intra as well as interstate commerce) from the beginning, America’s most explosive policy conflicts, including slavery, trade unions, and civil rights, would have played out differently, changing Americans’ political inheritance in fundamental ways.”
Interestingly, the outcomes that defeated many components of Madison’s going-in plan would later help propel Madison’s political career. Think of the state’s rights arguments made by Madison in the Virginia and Kentucky resolves. Things would have been easier for the emerging Republican party of Jefferson and Madison had Sherman been even more successful. Again per Robertson:
…. During the Convention, Sherman concentrated on defending the political economies of the states and ignored the difficulties of drawing a clear distinction between state and national authority. It was Madison, not Sherman, who was among the first American politicians to seize on this distinction. Madison, defending “state’s rights,” used Constitutional guarantees of state policy authority to build a national coalition of diverse interests opposed to Hamilton’s program for national economic direction. Madison’s political career after 1787, like America’s political development, owes a considerable-if unappreciated-debt to his opponents’ influence on the Constitution’s design.
A few other issues related to the drafting of the Constitution deserve discussion for Sherman’s role in them. They are the Bill of Rights, the ratification debates, and slavery.
The absence of a Bill of Rights in the initial draft was a point of contention for many, and would cause some delegates not to sign, as well as slowing ratification in some states. Most of the discussion in the formulation of the Constitution had focused on powers, not rights, until George Mason made a proposal late in the convention to add a Bill of Rights. Sherman’s speech on this was one of the only ones recorded. He was not in favor of a Bill of Rights, stating he “was for securing the rights of the people where requisite. The State Declaration of Rights are not repealed by this Constitution; and being in force are sufficient-There are many cases where juries are proper which cannot be discriminated. The Legislature may be safely trusted.”
He also believed that rights would only be protected in so far as representatives of good character were elected by the people: “The only real security that you can have for all your important rights must be in the nature of your government. If you suffer any man to govern you who is not strongly interested in supporting your privileges, you will certainly lose them.” Sherman regarded a bill of rights as pointless, not worth the parchment it was written upon, because such a document would never bind the legislature unless the legislators themselves were committed to protecting rights. 
Scott D. Gerber, Professor of Law at Ohio Northern University, writing in the journal Polity in 1996 put it this way: “The substance of Sherman’s argument-that a federal bill of rights was unnecessary because the state declarations of rights were sufficient to protect the rights of their citizens and the new federal government was not given any power to infringe upon the rights thus protected-was later echoed by James Wilson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton in their better known statements on the matter.” These sentiments carried the day for the moment, though the Bill of Rights was far from dead.
In 1789, Madison pleaded for further consideration of a Bill of Rights, as the lack of one was creating ratification problems in several states. Sherman was part of the committee established to deal with the issue. In the debate after the committee issued its report, Sherman said Congress does not “have the right to propose amendments in this way,” because the Constitution “is the act of the people” and “the amendments will be the act of the State Governments.” He then moved to have the proposed amendments, if ratified, placed after the text of the original Constitution. “Under this title,” he declared, “the amendments might come in nearly as stated in the report, only varying in phraseology so as to accommodate them to a supplementary form.” 
Sherman’s opposition to the Bill of Rights failed, and he acquiesced to its inclusion in the Constitution. His principal contribution in this matter then was his successful insistence that the new articles be appended at the end of the Constitution instead of being interwoven at appropriate points in the original document as proposed by Madison.
An interesting aside: In 1987, the National Archives discovered amongst Madison’s papers a rough draft of the Bill of Rights, clearly in Sherman’s handwriting, and the only original draft of the Bill known to exist. A debate ensued among historians as to whether this indicated Sherman was actually supportive of the Bill. Though the draft was written by Sherman, this was apparently due to his role in transcribing the deliberations of the House Select Committee on the Bill, and not indicative of where he stood (as described above), though this conclusion may not be universally agreed upon among historians.
As far as ratification, Sherman recognized, as many of the delegates did, that although the Constitution was imperfect, it was probably the best instrument that could be expected under present conditions. In support of ratification he published a series of five essays in the New Haven Gazette under the pseudonym “A Countryman.” After conceding in Countryman I that in considering a new constitution “people are justly cautious how they exchange present advantages for the hope of others in a system not yet experienced,” he also cautioned in Countryman II against approving (or rejecting) simply based on the reputation of the men behind it:
It is enough that you should have heard, that one party has seriously urged, that we should adopt the New Constitution because it has been approved by Washington and Franklin : and the other, with all the solemnity of apostolic address to Men , Brethren , Fathers , Friends and Countryman , have urged that we should reject, as dangerous, every clause thereof, because that Washington is more used to command as a soldier, than to reason as a politician Franklin is old , others are young and Wilson is haughty . You are too well informed to decide by the opinion of others, and too independent to need a caution against undue influence.
His arguments throughout the other five essays were often repetitive and approach the decision from a somewhat negative perspective: He stated that voters needed to ask themselves whether the proposed constitution would bring more good than harm. He also asserted that a government is only as good as the men elected to run it and that the proposed government compared favorably with their current state government, paralleling his argument regarding the Bill of Rights. In Countryman IV, he stated:
What forms your security under the General Assembly [of Connecticut]? Nothing save that the interest of the members is the same as yours. Will it be the same with Congress? There are essentially only two differences between the formation of Congress and of your General Assembly. One is, that Congress are to govern a much larger tract of country, and a much greater number of people, consequently your proportion of the government will be much smaller than at present. The other difference is that the members of Congress when elected, hold their places for two, four and six years, and the members of Assembly only six and twelve months.
Not exactly a sophisticated theoretical argument as one might see in The Federalist, but it was still effective. Connecticut ratified on January 9, 1788 by a vote of 128-40, and as with the Articles it was the fifth state to do so.
Any discussion of people who took a key role in the Constitution would not be complete if it didn’t touch on that person’s stance regarding the most divisive issue of the day – slavery. Sherman, a pious Puritan and a longtime and staunch opponent of the institution, had surprisingly little to say about it at the convention. He touched on it obliquely with respect to taxation issues, arguing against taxation of the importation of slaves because it implied they were property. He debated against it, but in the end relented even on the taxation point (not to mention on the three-fifths compromise). Two pragmatic reasons for his accommodating approach to the slavery issue: the reality that many of the states were moving toward ending slavery (only three allowed importation), and, he took the road that most of his colleagues took – that any provision to curtail or eliminate slavery would not result in a Constitution that would be acceptable to the southern states. Thus, he ended up doing what the rest did, punting the issue to future generations to resolve.
Why, for all his contributions, is Sherman not more recognized by history? One website blames his lack of recognition on religious prejudice against this pious Puritan by historians. I think any such bias plays a minor role, if any. But even if his religious beliefs aren’t a factor, his Puritan character definitely comes into play. He was the antithesis of a charismatic leader. His awkward demeanor and his less than sparkling speaking skills tend to cause his role to be downplayed, but endeavors like this to found a nation need “idea guys” as well as the technicians who hash out the details in the trenches. Sherman was the latter. Besides lacking the flash, he was also short on some of the attributes that defined the other founders, like Jefferson’s Renaissance man character and urbanity, Madison’s brilliance in constitutional theory, the military record of Washington, Franklin’s wit and worldliness, the youthful ambition of Hamilton, or even Adams’ vanity and sense of self-importance. Lastly, his advanced age at the Convention (he was the second oldest delegate behind Franklin) foreclosed the possibility of many follow-up accomplishments. He would die only six years after the Convention, while still a member of Congress.
At this point, he’ll just have to settle for his surest claim to fame: The only man to sign all four key founding documents. In my estimation, still not a bad way to be remembered.
- Reverend Charles A. Goodrich, Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (New York: Thomas Mather, 1837), Seventh Edition, 166.
- Julian P. Boyd, “Portrait of a Cordwainer Statesman,” The New England Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Apr., 1932), 221, http://www.jstor.org/stable/359611.
- USHistory.org, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Roger Sherman, http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/sherman.html, accessed June 30, 2017.
- Gregg Mangan, “Roger Sherman, Revolutionary and Dedicated Public Servant,” Connecticut History, https://connecticuthistory.org/roger-sherman-revolutionary-and-dedicated-public-servant/, accessed July 6, 2017.
- Victor Hugo Paltsits, The Almanacs of Roger Sherman, 1750-1761 (Worcester, MA: The Davis Press, 1907), 40-48
- Goodrich, Lives of the Signers, 160-161.
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005 (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 2005), 1902-1903.
- “Roger Sherman 1721-1793,” Roger Sherman Society, http://www.rogershermansociety.com/Biography_of_Roger_Sherman.htm, accessed July 6, 2017.
- Boyd, “Portrait of a Cordwainer Statesman,” 229.
- Ibid., 223.
- Ibid., 226.
- Mark David Hall, Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2013), 95.
- The document can be seen at http://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/thomas-jefferson-benjamin-franklin-asking-suggestions-draft-declaration.
- Hall, Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic, 71.
- Ibid., 73.
- Ibid., 78.
- Ibid., 79.
- Keith L. Dougherty and Jac C. Heckelman, “A Pivotal Voter from a Pivotal State: Roger Sherman at the Constitutional Convention,” The American Political Science Review, Volume 100, No.2 (May 2006), 297, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27644351.
- David Brian Robertson, “Madison’s Opponents and Constitutional Design,” American Political Science Review, Volume 99, No.2 (May 2005), 231, http://www.jstor.org/stable/30038934.
- Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), 92.
- Dougherty and Heckelman, “A Pivotal Voter from a Pivotal State,” 297.
- John R. Vile, The Constitutional Convention of 1787 – A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of America’s Founding (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, 2005) 2:219.
- Dougherty and Heckelman, “A Pivotal Voter from a Pivotal State,” 300.
- Robertson, “Madison’s Opponents and Constitutional Design,” 232, 236.
- Rakove, Original Meanings, 92.
- Robertson, “Madison’s Opponents and Constitutional Design,” data compiled from chart on page 233.
- Boyd, “Portrait of a Cordwainer Statesman,” 230.
- Robertson, “Madison’s Opponents and Constitutional Design,” 242.
- Ibid., 242.
- Scott D. Gerber, “Roger Sherman and the Bill of Rights,” Polity (The University of Chicago Press), Vol. 28, No. 4 (Summer, 1996), 523, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3235344.
- Paul Leicester Ford, Essays on the Constitution of the United States (Brooklyn: Historical Printing Club, 1892), 219, https://ia800304.us.archive.org/19/items/EssaysOnTheConstitutionOfTheUnitedStates/EssaysOnTheConstitutionOfTheUnitedStates.pdf.
- Gerber, “Roger Sherman and the Bill of Rights,” 524.
- Ibid., 523.
- Ibid., 526.
- Ibid., 521.
- Ford, Essays on the Constitution of the United States, 215.
- Ibid., 218.
- Hall, Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic, 113.
- Ford, Essays on the Constitution of the United States, 225.
- Hall, Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic, 106.
- Ibid., 108.
Roger Sherman (1721-1793) was the only founder to sign the Articles of Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. He served 1,543 days in the Continental Congress and was a member of the five-man committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence.
At the Federal Convention of 1787 he spoke more times than all but three delegates and was the driving force behind the Connecticut Compromise. As a Representative and Senator in the new republic, he played critical roles in debates over the Bill of Rights, the assumption of state debts, and the creation of a national bank. He was also one of the leading political leaders in Connecticut for the latter part of the eighteenth century. Nevertheless, no book dedicated to his writings has ever been published. Collected Works of Roger Sherman brings together essays, documents, records of his remarks in the Constitutional Convention and in the First Federal Congress, and important representative letters Sherman wrote to a variety of correspondents, including:
- 1768 letter to William Samuel Johnson, emphasizing Parliament’s limited authority over the colonies
- 1772 letter to the theologian Joseph Bellamy, criticizing Bellamy’s position on a congregation’s ability to fire its minister
- 1777 letter to Richard Henry Lee, addressing a number of economic issues
- 1789 series of letters between Sherman and John Adams, exploring the nature of republican government and the proper scope of presidential power.
Mark David Hall is Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics and Faculty Fellow in the William Penn Honors Program at George Fox University. In addition to editing, with Kermit L. Hall, the Collected Works of James Wilson (Liberty Fund, 2007) and, with Daniel L. Dreisbach, The Sacred Rights of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American Founding (Liberty Fund, 2009), he has written Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2013).
One of the leading figures of his day, Roger Sherman was a member of the five-man committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence and an influential delegate at the Constitutional Convention. As a Representative and Senator in the new republic, he had a hand in determining the proper scope of the national government’s power as well as drafting the Bill of Rights. In Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic, Mark David Hall explores Sherman’s political theory and shows how it informed his many contributions to America’s founding.
A close examination of Sherman’s religious beliefs provides insight into how those beliefs informed his political actions. Hall shows that Sherman, like many founders, was influenced by Calvinist political thought, a tradition that played a role in the founding generation’s opposition to Great Britain, and led them to develop political institutions designed to prevent corruption, promote virtue, and protect rights. Contrary to oft-repeated assertions that the founders advocated a strictly secular policy, Hall argues persuasively that most founders believed Christianity should play an important role in the new American republic.
Historical Events Involving Roger Sherman
The Declaration of Independence Approved by Congress as 56 Courageous Signers “Pledge… Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor.”