George Thatcher

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Portrait of George Thatcher

George Thatcher (April 12, 1754 – April 6, 1824) was an American lawyer, jurist, and statesman from the Maine district of Massachusetts. His name sometimes appears as George Thacher. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress in 1787 and 1788. He was an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1801 to 1824.


Thatcher was born April 12, 1754, in Yarmouth, Province of Massachusetts Bay. After private tutoring, he attended Harvard, graduating in 1776. He read law and was admitted to the bar in 1778, and then moved to York to open a practice. By 1782 he had settled in Biddeford.[1]

Thatcher was named as one of the Massachusetts delegates to the Continental Congress in 1787. He wrote under the name "Scribble Scrabble."[2]


He was later elected a U.S. Congressman from the Maine district of Massachusetts, as a Pro-administration candidate in 1789 to 1792 and as a Federalist from 1794 to 1801.[1]

Fugitive Slave Act[edit]

In 1788 North Carolina passed a allowing the capture and sale of any former slave who had been freed without court approval. Many freed African Americans fled the state to avoid being captured and sold back into slavery. Rev Absalom Jones drafted a petition on behalf of four freed slaves, the first group of African Americans to petition the U.S. Congress. The petition related to the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act and asked Congress to adopt “some remedy for an evil of such magnitude.”[3]

The petition was presented on 30 January 1797 by U.S. Representative John Swanwick of Pennsylvania.[4] Although Representative Thatcher argued that the petition should be accepted and referred to the Committee on the Fugitive Law, the House of Representatives declined to accept the petition by a vote of was 50 to 33.[3]

He did not seek re-election in 1800. At the time he left the Congress, he was the last original Congressman still in office.

Later career[edit]

Thatcher accepted an appointment to a Massachusetts state court in 1792 and served until 1800 when he was appointed to the state's Supreme Judicial Court. During the organization of Maine's statehood in 1819, he was a member of the convention that created the new state's constitution. When statehood was achieved in 1820, he moved to Newburyport. He resigned from the court in January 1824, and retired to Biddeford.[5]

Thatcher, an ardent Unitarian, helped to sponsor the creation of Bowdoin College so that Maine would have its own institution of higher education. For the college's first dozen years, he served as a regent.

Thatcher died at his home, and is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery at Biddeford.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Thatcher, George, (1754 - 1824)", Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress
  2. ^ Scribble Scrabble, the Second Amendment, and Historical Guideposts: A Short Reply to Lawrence Rosenthal and Joyce Lee Malcolm
  3. ^ a b "The 1797 Petition", The Making of African American Identity: Vol. I, 1500-1865, National Humanities Center, 2007
  4. ^ White, Deborah Gray (2013). Freedom On My Mind: A History of African Americans. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's. 
  5. ^ Folsom, George. History of Saco and Biddeford, A. C. Putnam, 1830

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
New seat Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 6th congressional district

(Maine district)
March 4, 1789 – March 3, 1791
Succeeded by
George Leonard
Preceded by
Jonathan Grout
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 8th congressional district

(Maine district)
March 4, 1791 – March 3, 1793
district eliminated
Preceded by
Theodore Sedgwick
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 4th congressional district

(Maine district)
March 4, 1793 – March 3, 1795
alongside: Henry Dearborn, Peleg Wadsworth on a General ticket
Succeeded by
Dwight Foster
New district Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 14th congressional district

(Maine district)
Succeeded by
Richard Cutts
Legal offices
New seat Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Succeeded by
Levi Lincoln, Jr.