Braxton, Carter

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Braxton, Carter

BRAXTON, CARTER. (1736–1797). Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Virginia. Son of a wealthy planter, Carter Braxton was born on 10 September 1736, on the family's plantation. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1756 and, after the death of his first wife in December 1757, he spent the next three years in England. In May 1761 he married Elizabeth Corbin, daughter of a British official, and started a fourteen-year tour as representative from King William County in the House of Burgesses (1761–1775) that was interrupted only by a short period when he served as county sheriff.

In the controversies that led to the break with England, Braxton wavered between his conservative instincts and political survival. He opposed the Virginia Resolves of 1765, but supported the non-importation agreements. He is credited with preventing bloodshed in the dispute between Governor Dunmore and Patrick Henry's militia over the seizure of colonial powder in the spring of 1775, and was appointed to the Committee of Safety after the governor fled. The following year the assembly selected him as a delegate to the Continental Congress, where he supported the resolution for independence and signed the Declaration of Independence, but there are few references to him in the Journals of the Continental Congress. Probably because of his conservative views and his wife's loyalism, he was not re-elected. His county, however, returned him to the House of Burgesses, where he served from 1776 to 1785. In 1785 he suffered a stroke and retired from public affairs. Braxton lost most of his wealth during the Revolution, dying in a rented Richmond house, 10 October 1797.

SEE ALSO Virginia Resolves of 1765; Virginia, Military Operations in.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dill, Alonzo Thomas. Carter Braxton, Virginia Signer: A Conservative in Revolt. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1983.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles