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Page 1

George Clymer

1739-1813

George Clymer was born in the city of Philadelphia, in the year 1739. His father was descended from a respectable family of Bristol, in England ; and after his emigration to America became connected by marriage with a lady in Philadelphia. Young Clymer was left an orphan at the age of seven years, upon which event the care of him devolved upon William Coleman, a maternal uncle, a gentleman of much respectability among the citizens of Philadelphia.
   The education of young Clymer was superintended by his uncle, than whom few men were better qualified for such a charge. The uncle possessed a cultivated mind, and early instilled into his nephew a love of reading. On the completion of his education, he entered the counting-room of his uncle. His genius, however, was little adapted to mercantile employments, being more inclined to literary and scientific pursuits. At a suitable period he commenced business for himself, in connection with Mr. Robert Ritchie, and afterwards with two gentlemen, father and son, by the name of Meredith, a daughter of the former of whom he subsequently married.
   Although Mr. Clymer embarked in the pursuits of commerce, and continued engaged in that business for many years, he was always decidedly opposed to it. During his mercantile operations, he found much time to read. He was distinguished for a clear and original mind; and though he never pursued any of the learned professions, he became well versed in the principles of law, history, and politics.
   At the age of twenty-seven, he was married, as has already been noticed, to a daughter of Mr. Meredith, a gentleman of a generous and elevated mind, as the following anecdote of him will show. While yet a young man, General Washington had occasion to visit Philadelphia, where he was an entire stranger. Happening in at the public house where Washington lodged, Mr. Meredith observed him, inquired his name, and finding him to be a stranger in the place, invited him to the hospitalities of his house, and kindly insisted upon his continuance with his family while he remained in the city. This accidental acquaintance led to a friendship of many years continuance, and at Mr. Meredith's, Washington ever after made it his home when he visited Philadelphia.
   Mr. Clymer may be said to have been by nature a republican. He was, also, a firm and devoted patriot. His feelings were strongly enlisted, at an early age, against the arbitrary acts of the British government. Gifted with a sort of prescience, he foresaw what was meditated against his country, and was ready to hazard every interest in support of the pillars of American freedom. Hence, when conciliatory measures with the parent country were found unavailing, he was one of the foremost to adopt measures necessary for defense. He early accepted a captain's commission in a company of volunteers, raised for the defense of the province, and manfully opposed, in 1773, the sale of tea, which was, sent out by the British government for the purpose of indirectly levying a contribution on the Americans without their consent. Never was a plan more artfully laid by the ministry of Great Britain; never was an attack upon American liberty more covert and insidious; and never was a defeat more complete and mortifying. On the arrival of the tea destined to Philadelphia, the citizens of that place, in a numerous meeting, adopted the most spirited resolutions, the object of which was to prevent the sale of it. A committee was appointed, of which Mr. Clymer was chairman, to wait upon the consignees, and to request them not to attempt to sell it. This was a delicate office; the committee, however, fearlessly and 'faithfully discharged the duties of their appointment; and not a single pound of tea was offered for sale in the city of Philadelphia.
   In 1775, Mr. Clymer was chosen a member of the council of safety, and one of the first continental treasurers. On the 20th of July, of the following year, he was elected a member of the continental congress; and though not present when the vote was taken on the question of independence, he had the honor of affixing his signature to that instrument in the following month.
   In September, Mr. Clymer was appointed to visit Ticonderoga, in conjunction with Mr. Stockton, to inspect the affairs of the northern army. In December of the same Year, congress, finding it necessary to adjourn to Baltimore, in consequence of the advance of the British army towards Philadelphia, left Mr. Clymer, Robert Morris, and George Walton, a committee to transact such business in that city as might be found necessary.

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Last modified September 24, 2005