1726 - 1794 (68 years)
Has 11 ancestors but no descendants in this family tree.
||Abraham Clark |
|Relationship||with Francis Fox|
||15 Feb 1726
||15 Sep 1794
||This person is also Abraham Clark at Wikipedia |
||14 Nov 2016 |
- He was nicknamed "Congress Abraham" to distinguish him from other Abraham Clarks in the vicinity.
He was a frail child, consequently pampered by his family, and as a growing youth he was considered too slight for heavy farm work. He seems to have had little formal education as a child, but he was a born student and was probably taught at home. His liking for mathematics led him to study surveying. As an aid in this, he equipped himself to settle land disputes and to transfer property titles by studying law on the side. He rarely, perhaps never, charged for legal services, and there is a strong suspicion he was never admitted to the bar. He enjoyed giving free whatever his slight knowledge of law permitted, and he enjoyed the title he acquired: "The Poor Man's Counsellor." When he was about 23, he married Sarah Hatfield, from a family the Clarks had known for more than a generation. They went to live in his father's house near Elizabeth. They had a family of 10 children. He was given 2 offices under the Crown: Clerk of the Colonial Assembly and High Sheriff of Essex County. His integrity was recognized early during his work with the poor, who had found they could trust him.
By 1774, Clark was an avowed Whig, identified with the patriot cause and soon became a bold advocate of independence. When Committees of Safety began to spring up throughout the colonies, Clark was placed on New Jersey's committee, later becoming its secretary.
In May 1775, Abraham Clark was elected to the Provincial Congress of New Jersey He was appointed to the Second Continental Congress on 22 June 1776. On July Fourth, he wrote from Philadelphia to his local people: "Our Congress is an August Assembly, and can they support the Declaration now on the Anvil,they will be the Greatest Assembly on Earth. We can die but once...We are now embarked on a most tempestuous sea...It is gone so far that we must now be a free independent State or a Conquered Country."
As a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Abraham wrote to a friend: "As to my title, I know not yet whether it will be honourable or dishonourable; the issue of the war must settle it. Perhaps our Congress will be exalted on a high gallows." That is exactly what would have happened, if the British had won--unless the victors had preferred to behead them. He was much of the time "in want of health" but there was no absenteeism in Clark's record in Congress. He was a most energetic member, and the Library of Congress still contains many reports in his handwriting on many subjects that concerned the patriots of 1776. He labored mightily to gather the supplies that General Washington's army so badly needed. Three times he was elected to Congress while giving interim service in the New Jersey Legislature. He was a delegate to the Anapolis Convention in 1786, where they discussed interstate commerce. Chosen a Representative of New Jersey to the Philadelphia Convention that framed the Federal Constitution in 1787, he was unable to attend because of ill health. The British forces landed on Staten Island, only a few miles across the water from Clark's New Jersey home. His estate escaped destruction at the hands of the British, but he had so neglected his private business affairs that he lost heavily in the Revolution. Two of his soldier sons were captured and confined on a British prison-ship.
Abraham Clark was a man of average height, slender, with dark hair and heavy eyebrows, "very temperate", with no special ambition for wealth, reserved in manner and thoughtful. On 15 September 1794, he was out in one of his fields watching a bridge being built when suddenly he suffered sunstroke. Realizing his danger, he stepped into his chaise and drove himself home. He died 2 hours later. [Copied from a book in the Lincoln Public Library, "Signers of the Declaration" by Bakeless.]