George Clymer

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George Clymer
George Clymer.jpg
Born(1739-03-16)March 16, 1739
DiedJanuary 23, 1813(1813-01-23) (aged 73)
Known forFounding Father of the United States
George Clymer signature.png

George Clymer (March 16, 1739 – January 23, 1813) was an American politician and Founding Father of the United States. George Clymer was one of 34 Signers that did not own slaves. He was the first President of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery. He was one of the first Patriots to advocate complete independence from Britain, a.[1][2] As a Pennsylvania representative, Clymer was, along with five others, a signatory of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. He attended the Continental Congress, and served in political office until the end of his life.


Early life and family[edit]

Clymer was born in Philadelphia in the Province of Pennsylvania on March 16, 1739. Orphaned when only a year old, he was apprenticed to his maternal aunt and uncle,[3] Hannah and William Coleman, to prepare to become a merchant. He married Elizabeth Meredith on March 22, 1765. In a letter written by George Clymer to the rector of Christ Church, the Reverend Richard Peters, Clymer states that he had previously fathered a child; neither the child's nor mother's name is mentioned.[4] George Clymer and Elizabeth Meredith had nine children, four of whom died in infancy. His oldest surviving son, Henry (born 1767), married the Philadelphia socialite Mary Willing in 1794. John Meredith, Margaret, George, and Ann also survived to adulthood, though John Meredith was killed in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1787 at the age of 18.[5]


Clymer was a patriot and leader in the demonstrations in Philadelphia resulting from the Tea Act and the Stamp Act. Clymer accepted the command as a leader of a volunteer corps belonging to General John Cadwalader's brigade.[6] In 1759, he was inducted as a member of the original American Philosophical Society.[7] He became a member of the Philadelphia Committee of Safety in 1773, and was elected to the Continental Congress 1776–1780. Clymer shared the responsibility of being treasurer of the Continental Congress with Michael Hillegas, later the first Treasurer of the United States. He served ably on several committees during his first congressional term and was sent with Sampson Mathews to inspect the northern army at Fort Ticonderoga on behalf of Congress in the fall of 1776.[8] When Congress fled Philadelphia in the face of Sir Henry Clinton's threatened occupation, Clymer stayed behind with George Walton and Robert Morris. Clymer’s business ventures during and after war served to increase his wealth. In 1779 and 1780, Clymer and his son Meredith engaged in a lucrative trade with St. Eustatius. Although not partial to the merchant business, Clymer continued in business with his father-in-law and brother-in-law until 1782.[9]

Summerseat, Clymer's home

He resigned from Congress in 1777 and, in 1780, was elected to a seat in the Pennsylvania Legislature. In 1782, he was sent on a tour of the southern states in a vain attempt to get the legislatures to pay up on subscriptions due to the central government. He was reelected to the Pennsylvania legislature in 1784, and represented his state at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. He was elected to the first U.S. Congress in 1789.

He was the first president of the Philadelphia Bank and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and vice-president of the Philadelphia Agricultural Society. When Congress passed a bill imposing a duty on spirits distilled in the United States in 1791, Clymer was placed as head of the excise department in the state of Pennsylvania. He was also one of the commissioners to negotiate a treaty with the Creek Indian confederacy at Colerain, Georgia on June 29, 1796. He is considered the benefactor of Indiana Borough, as it was he who donated the property for a county seat in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.

Clymer died on January 23, 1813. He was buried at the Friends Burying Ground in Trenton, New Jersey.


USS George Clymer (APA-27) was named in his honor.[10]

Clymer, Indiana County, Pennsylvania was named in his honor as was Clymer, New York.[11] There is a George Clymer Elementary School in the School District of Philadelphia. This school has educated majority children of color[further explanation needed] following Clymer's legacy of rights for all people.

Clymer's home in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, known as Summerseat, still stands, as does a house he owned in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park known as Ridgeland Mansion. One of the streets running alongside Summerseat in Morrisville is Clymer Avenue.

In Reading, Pennsylvania, Clymer Street is named in honor of George Clymer. At its intersection with Hill Road once stood the mansion of William H. Luden, who founded Luden's in Reading in 1879. That mansion later hosted Central Catholic—a now-defunct Roman Catholic parochial high school.

In the Leedom Estates section of Ridley Township, Pennsylvania, Clymer Lane is named after George Clymer.

In Pentwater, Michigan, Clymer Street is named after George Clymer.


  1. ^ "George Clymer". The Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. December 11, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2020. George was orphaned at the age of seven. His father’s portion of the sizeable inheritance had dwindled considerably; although having seen some success as a captain of a privateer preying on French merchantmen in the Caribbean, Christopher left him very little – a few personal items and a Negro man, who died within a year. But George’s grandfather rectified the situation, favoring him in his will when he died in 1750, leaving him at the age of eleven with means of his own.
  2. ^ Clymer, George (November 10, 1768). "Regarding a Slave Exchange". Nate D. Sanders, Inc. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  3. ^ Carpenter, Louis Henry (1912). Samuel Carpenter and his descendants. J.B. Lippincott. p. 257.
  4. ^ Grundfest, Jerry (1982). George Clymer, Philadelphia revolutionary, 1739-1813. New York: Arno Press. pp. 32–33.
  5. ^ Burnell, George Clymer the Signer
  6. ^ Losser, B.J. (1857). Biographical Sketches of the Signers of the American Declaration of Independence. New York: Derby & Jackson. p. 115. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  7. ^ Bell, Whitfield J., and Charles Greifenstein, Jr. Patriot-Improvers: Biographical Sketches of Members of the American Philosophical Society. 3 vols. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1997, I:18, 236, 237-47, 457, II:35-36, 41, 42, 44, 257, 342, 343, III:133, 491.
  8. ^ Pieper, Thomas, and Gidney, James (1980). Fort Laurens, 1778–1779: The Revolutionary War in Ohio. Kent State University Press, p 13. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  9. ^ Losser, B.J. (1857). Biographical Sketches of the Signers of the American Declaration of Indendence. New York: Derby & Jackson. p. 115. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  10. ^ "History of USS George Clymer (APA-27)".
  11. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 85.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
District Created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's at-large congressional district

alongside: Thomas Fitzsimons, Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, Thomas Hartley, Thomas Scott, Henry Wynkoop, Daniel Hiester and Peter G. Muhlenberg
Succeeded by
At large on a general ticket:
Thomas Fitzsimons, Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, Thomas Hartley, Israel Jacobs, John W. Kittera, Daniel Hiester, William Findley, and Andrew Gregg