A Forgotten Founding Father

Surely you have heard of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams – who hasn’t! But there is another member of the founding generation who gets little mention – Roger Sherman. You have probably heard the name or seen the historic market by the New Milford Town Hall, but you really don’t know much else. He was born in 1721. He was known as the shoemaker, although he only practiced this trade he learned from his father for a short while. He bought a farm in Sherman, Connecticut where he made shoes and learned surveying. Roger Sherman became a surveyor for New Haven County that included Litchfield County at that time. He wrote a book on surveying practices and is often considered the father of surveying in the United States. He then became a merchant and owned stores in New Milford, including one where the present Town Hall now stands. Roger then studied law and became a lawyer in 1754. He served as a Justice of the Peace in the newly formed Litchfield County and went on to serve as a judge in Connecticut’s highest court. He then served as a Connecticut representative to the three Continental Congress meetings. Roger Sherman is the only person to sign all four founding documents: the Articles of Association (which established the boycott against British goods in 1774 in response to the Intolerable Acts), the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and The US Constitution. Sherman’s important contribution to the drafting of the Constitution was the “Great Compromise”. The state representatives were deadlocked over states vs. federal balance of power until Sherman proposed proportional representation in the House and equal representation in the Senate. This resolved the dispute and lead to the signing and ratification of the Constitution. He went on to serve in the US House (1789-1791) and US Senate (1791-1793) and was the longest serving Congressman upon his death in 1793. His other notable accomplishments were publishing an almanac and inventing the penny we still use today as currency. All and all, Roger Sherman was a renaissance man of his day with three different careers and is an important figure in our early history who shouldn’t be forgotten.