GORHAM, NATHANIEL. (1738–1796). President of the Continental Congress. Massachusetts. Born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in May 1738, Gorham was a prosperous merchant who sat in the colonial legislature from 1771 to 1775, in the Provincial Congress from 1774 to 1775, on the Board of War from 1778 to 1781, and in the state constitutional convention from 1779 to 1780. He was in the state senate in 1780 and served in the state house from 1781 to 1787. He was speaker of the house in 1781, 1782, and 1785. He was sent to the Continental Congress in 1782–1783 and 1785–1787. He was elected president of that body on 6 June 1786. He presided over the 1787 federal Constitutional Convention for three weeks, and was influential in his state's ratification of the Constitution the next year. After the war, he and a partner were involved in the development of six million acres ceded by New York to Massachusetts in settlement of a border dispute. Complications over rising prices and Indian claims, however, wiped him out financially, and he died 11 June 1796.
SEE ALSO Continental Congress.
revised by Michael Bellesiles