Jurist, politician, land speculator, Supreme Court justice.
Deborah Franklin transferred her power of attorney to him (1768).
His work, Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the British Parliament, was widely read in America and England, and was at first ascribed to Franklin.
Elected to the Second Continental Congress (1775). Appointed as one of Franklin’s fellow commissioners of Indian affairs in the middle department. Opposed the Constitution of Pennsylvania of 1776, and was removed from Congress (September 1777). Appointed by the French government as avocat général for maritime and commercial causes (1777-83). Legal advisor to Robert Morris in the formation of the Bank of Pennsylvania (1780).
Wrote Considerations on the Power to Incorporate the Bank of North America (1785). Elected to Congress (1785-87).
Played an active role in the drafting of both the federal Constitution and the Constitution of Pennsylvania. Appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court by Washington (1789).
Born in Carskerdo, Scotland. Arrived in Philadelphia (1765). Married in 1771 to Rachel Bird (d. 1786); six children. Married Hannah Gray in 1793.
Received an honorary M.A. degree from the College of Philadelphia, where he was a Latin tutor (1766) . Studied law under John Dickinson. First practiced law in Reading (1768), and then at Carlisle.