Stone, Thomas

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Stone, Thomas

STONE, THOMAS. (1743–1787). Signer. Maryland. Born in Charles County, Maryland, 1743, Stone studied law with Thomas Johnson in Annapolis, was admitted to the bar in 1764, and four years later married the wealthy Margaret Brown. In 1771 he bought land near Port Tobacco, Charles County, and established a successful legal practice. In 1774, Stone was one of the sheriff's lawyers who prosecuted Thomas Johnson, Samuel Chase, and William Paca for contesting the legality of poll taxes for supporting the clergy. Although a conservative, Stone sided with the Patriots when the break came with England. He served in the Continental Congress from 13 May 1775 until October 1778, except for a portion of 1777, when he declined re-election. Fellow signers of the Declaration of Independence from Maryland were Chase and Paca, and Johnson also served in Congress with Stone.

Stone also served in the Maryland Convention of 1775–1776, and in the state senate from 1776 to 1791, becoming known mostly for his silence. He appears to have retained his moderate views toward war with England, and one of his few recorded speeches advocated coming to terms with Lord Richard Howe in September 1776. He resumed his seat in Congress on 26 March 1784. Toward the end of this session he was named president pro tempore, but he declined re-election to Congress and resumed his law practice. He was named to the federal Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, but declined to serve on account of his wife's illness. She died in June 1787 Stone gave up his work and died of "melancholy" on 5 October 1787.

SEE ALSO Chase, Samuel; Paca, William.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Vivian, Jean H. "Thomas Stone and the Reorganization of the Maryland Council of Safety, 1776." Maryland History Magazine 69 (1974): 271-278.

                          revised by Michael Bellesiles