Clymer, George

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Clymer, George

CLYMER, GEORGE. (1739–1813). Signer. Pennsylvania. Born in Philadelphia on 16 March 1739, George Clymer was orphaned in 1746. He nonetheless grew up to be very well connected. He was reared by his uncle, a friend of Benjamin Franklin, who left him his business and fortune. Clymer further extended his social connections by marrying Elizabeth Meredith, the daughter of a wealthy Quaker merchant.

By the outbreak of the Revolution, Clymer was one of the three richest men in Philadelphia. He was an early Patriot and captain of a volunteer company in General John Cadwalader's brigade. In 1773 he was chairman of the "Philadelphia Tea Party," forcing the resignation of all merchants named by the British to sell tea, and he went on to serve on the city's Committee of Safety. On 29 July 1775 Congress appointed Clymer and Michael Hillegas to serve as U.S. treasurers. Clymer put his personal fortune behind independence, converting all his specie to Continental currency and subscribing to a loan, both of which proved to be costly decisions. On 20 July 1776 Clymer became one of five congressional delegates named by his state to replace those who would not sign the Declaration of Independence, adding his signature to that document on behalf of Pennsylvania. In Congress he served on the critical Board of War, giving special attention to reforming the army's medical and commissary departments. On 26 September 1776 he was named to inspect the northern army at Ticonderoga and advocated increasing General George Washington's powers. He was re-elected to Congress on 12 March 1777, but was defeated for re-election on 14 September. After the British took Philadelphia, they sacked his house. In 1777 he was named a commissioner to treat with the Indians near Fort Pitt. In 1780 he was one of the founders of the Philadelphia Bank, which was formed to supply the army. He was also re-elected to the Continental Congress (1780–1782). A member of the federal Constitutional Convention anda firm supporter of the Constitution, Clymer was elected to the first Congress but declined to stand for re-election in 1791. Shortly thereafter, Washington, then serving as president, named Clymer collector of the duty on spirits, where his heavy-handed methods helped spark the Whiskey Rebellion. In 1796 he helped negotiate the Treaty of Coleraine with the Creek Indians. He was vice-president of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Society and president of the Academy of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Bank until his death on 23 January 1813.

SEE ALSO Philadelphia.


Grundfest, Jerry. George Clymer: Philadelphia Revolutionary, 1739–1813, Manchester, N.H.: Ayer, 1981.

                        revised by Michael Bellesiles

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