April 19, 2014

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Signers of Declaration of Independence: Paine & Gerry

Other less known colonists from Massachusetts who signed the Declaration of Independence were Robert Treat Paine and Eldbridge Gerry. Men perhaps less remembered than John Hancock and Samuel and John Adams, but contributors none the less to the freedom Americans enjoy today.

Robert Treat Paine was a native of Massachusetts, born in 1731. He was expected, by family tradition, to become a Minister. He got high marks at the Boston Latin School and was admitted to Harvard College, where he graduated in 1749. He taught school for a while and then began the study of theology. Because of his frail health, Paine set out to build up his strength by working on the sea. He spent some years as a merchant marine visiting the southern colonies, Spain, the Azores, and England. When he returned home he decided to pursue the law. He was admitted to the bar of Massachusetts in 1757. He first set up office in Portland, Maine (then part of Massachusetts) and later relocated to Taunton, Massachusetts. In the trials of British soldiers following the Boston Massacre, Paine served as associate prosecuting attorney.