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Roger Sherman


Roger Sherman
Roger Sherman: From the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol
Roger Sherman, the subject of the present memoir, was a native of Newton, Massachusetts, where he was born on the 19th of April, 1721. His ancestors were from Dedham, in England, whence they removed to America about the year 1635, and settled at Watertown in the same state. The father of Mr. Sherman, whose name was William, was a respectable farmer, but from his moderate circumstances was unable to give his son the advantages of an education, beyond those which were furnished by a parochial school.
   He was early apprenticed to a shoemaker, which occupation he followed for some time after he was twenty-two years of age. It is recorded of him, however, that be early, evinced an uncommon thirst for knowledge, and was wont, even while at work on his seat, to have a book open before him, upon which he would employ every moment, not necessarily devoted to the duties of his calling.
   The father of Mr. Sherman died in the year 1741, leaving his family, which was quite numerous, in circumstances of dependence. The care of the family devolved upon Roger, his older brother having sometime before removed to New-Milford, in Connecticut. This was a serious charge for a young man only nineteen years of age. Yet, with great kindness and cheerfulness did he engage in the duties which devolved upon him. Towards his mother, whose life was protracted to a great age, he continued to manifest the tenderest affection, and assisted two of his younger brothers to obtain a liberal education. These, afterwards, became clergymen of some distinction in Connecticut.
   It has already been observed, that an older brother had established himself in New-Milford, Connecticut. In 1743, it was judged expedient for the family, also, to remove to that place. Accordingly, having disposed of their small farm, they became residents of New-Milford, in June of that year. This journey was performed by young Roger on foot, with his tools on his back.

   At New-Milford, he commenced business as a shoemaker but not long after he relinquished his trade, having entered into partnership with his older brother, in the more agreeable occupation of a country merchant.

   Mr. Sherman early evinced, as has already been observed, an unusual thirst for knowledge. This led him to seize with aviditv every opportunity to acquire it. The acquisitions of such a mind, even with the disadvantages under which he laboured, must have been comparatively easy, and his improvement was rapid. The variety and extent of his attainments, even at this early age, are almost incredible. He soon became known in the county of Litchfield, where he resided, as a man of more than ordinary talents, and of unusual skill in the science of mathematics. In 1745, only two years after his removal into the above county, and at the age of twenty-four, he was appointed to the office of county surveyor. At this time it appears, also, he had made no small advance in the science of astronomy. As early as 1748, he supplied the astronomical calculations for an almanac, published in the city of New-York, and continued this supply for several succeeding years.
   In 1749, he was married to Miss Elizabeth Hartwell, of Stoughton, in Massachusetts. After her decease, in 1760, he married Miss Rebecca Prescot, of Danvers, in the same state. By these wives he had fifteen children, seven by the former, and eight by the latter.

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Last modified January 1, 2004