Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

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Abraham Clark


It is unfortunately the fact, in respect to many of the distinguished actors in the revolutionary drama, but especially in reference to the subject of this memoir, that but few incidents of their lives have been preserved. The truth is, that although men of exalted patriotism, who filled their respective duties, both in public and private life, with great honor to themselves and benefit to all around them, they were naturally unobtrusive and unambitious. The incidents of their lives were, indeed, few. Some of them lived in retirement, pursuing the "even tenor of their way," nor was the regularity of their lives often interrupted, except, perhaps, by an attendance upon congress, or by the discharge of some minor civil office in the community.
   These remarks apply with some justice to Mr. Clark, but perhaps not with more force, than to several others, who stand enrolled among the signers of the declaration of independence.
   Mr. Clark was a native of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, where he was born, on the fifteenth of February, 1726. His father's name was Thomas Clark, of whom he was an only child. His early education, although confined to English branches of study, was respectable. For the mathematics and the civil law he is said to have discovered an early predilection.
   He was bred a farmer; but his constitution being inadequate to the labors of the field, he turned his attention to surveying, conveyancing, and imparting legal advice. For this last service he was well qualified; and as he gave advice gratuitously, he was called, "the poor man's counselor."
   The course of Mr. Clark's life, his love of study, and the generosity of his character, naturally rendered him popular. His opinion was valued, and often sought, even beyond the circle within which be lived. He was called to fill various respectable offices, the duties of which he discharged with great fidelity; and thus rendered himself highly useful in the community in which he lived.
   At an early period of the revolution, as he had formed his opinion on the great question, which divided the British government and the American colonies, he was appointed one, of the committee of public safety; and some time after was elected by the provincial congress, in conjunction with the gentlemen, a sketch of whose lives has already been given, a delegate to the continental congress.
   Of this body he was a member, for a considerable period and was conspicuous among his colleagues from New Jersey, A few days after he took his seat for the first time, as a member of congress, he was called upon to vote for, or against, the proclamation of independence. But he was at no loss on which aide to throw his influence. His patriotism was of the purest character. Personal considerations did not influence his decision. He knew full well that fortune and individual safety were at stake. But what were these in comparison with the honor and liberty of his country. He voted, therefore, for the declaration of independence, and affixed his name to that sacred instrument with a firm determination to meet the consequences of the noble, but dangerous action, with a fortitude and resolution becoming a free born citizen of America.

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Last modified January 2, 2004