Wednesday, December 12

George Clymer (1739-1813)

The heir of a substantial Philadelphia business and banking fortune, George Clymer risked everything to become a leader of the patriots in the early in the conflict with the King, served in public office for over twenty years, and signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. A man of unusual intellectual curiosity, he also served as an officer of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Agricultural Society.

One of the first members of Pennsylvania’s Committee of Safety, and one of the first to advocate complete independence from Britain, Clymer was called upon by the Continental Congress to serve as the first treasurer for the United States, and he undertook the almost impossible assignment of raising money to support the government’s operations, chief of which was the new Continental Army. And Clymer devoted not only his great energy, but also his own fortune to the cause, exchanging all his money, which was in hard coin, for the shaky continental currency.

On this day in 1776, when Congress fled a threatened Philadelphia, Clymer was one of the committee of three left behind to maintain essential government activities. During this crisis Clymer drove himself almost to a state of exhaustion. Shortly after this ordeal, the British captured Philadelphia and plundered and destroyed his home.

In Congress, Clymer performed valuable services as a member of committees dealing with financial matters. During the final years of the war, he was again responsible for obtaining funds for the Army. At the Constitutional Convention Clymer, who was not an exceptional speaker, distinguished himself by his work in committees dealing with his specialty--finance. In 1791, after a term in the first Congress, Clymer served as Federal Collector of the controversial tax on liquor, which led to the Whiskey Rebellion.

He concluded his career by negotiating an equitable peace treaty between the United States and the Creek tribe in Georgia. Clymer served the cause from the beginnings of the movement for independence and established his place among the Founding Fathers, although he never sought a public office in his life.

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