Paca, William

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Paca, William

PACA, WILLIAM. (1740–1799). Signer, governor of Maryland, jurist. Maryland. Born near Abingdon, Maryland, on 31 October 1740, Paca graduated from Philadelphia College in 1759, entered the Middle Temple in 1760, and was admitted to the bar in Annapolis the following year. In 1765 he and Samuel Chase organized the Anne Arundel County Sons of Liberty in opposition to the Stamp Act. He was in the Maryland legislature from 1771 to 1774, when he became a member of the Committee of Correspondence and a delegate to the first Continental Congress. After his state removed restrictions from its delegates in June 1776, Paca voted for independence and became a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He remained a delegate to the Continental Congress though 1777, helped frame the Maryland constitution in August 1776, and served as state senator from 1777 to 1779. In 1778 he became chief judge of the Maryland General Court. Two years later, Congress made him chief justice of the court of appeals in admiralty and prize cases. In November 1782 he was elected governor. Twice re-elected, he served until 26 November 1785. During this period he took a particular interest in veterans' affairs. He finally voted for the Constitution as submitted to the Maryland Convention of 1788, although he was far from satisfied with the document and had proposed 28 amendments. Washington appointed Paca as a federal district judge in 1789, and he held this post until his death on 13 October 1799.

SEE ALSO Sons of Liberty.


Stiverson, Gregory A., and Phebe R. Jacobsen. William Paca, A Biography. Baltimore, Md.: Maryland Historical Society, 1976.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles