Abraham Clark (February 15, 1726 – September 15, 1794) was an American politician, slaveholder, and Revolutionary War figure. He was delegate for New Jersey to the Continental Congress where he signed the Declaration of Independence and later served in the United States House of Representatives in both the Second and Third United States Congress, from March 4, 1791, until his death in 1794.
Abraham Clark (February 15, 1726 – September 15, 1794) was an American politician, slaveholder, and Revolutionary War figure. He was delegate for New Jersey to the Continental Congress where he signed the Declaration of Independence and far ahead served in the United States House of Representatives in both the Second and Third United States Congress, from March 4, 1791, until his death in 1794.
Abraham was born in Elizabethtown in the Province of New Jersey. His father, Thomas Clark, realized that he had a natural grasp for math correspondingly he hired a teach to tutor Abraham surveying. While working as a surveyor, he taught himself work and went into practice. He became quite popular and became known as “the poor man’s councilor” as he offered to defend destitute men subsequently they couldn’t afford a lawyer.
Clark married Sarah Hatfield circa 1749, with whom he had 10 children. While Hatfield raised the children on their farm, Clark was dexterous to enter politics as a clerk of the Provincial Assembly. Later he became High Sheriff of Essex County and in 1775 was elected to the Provincial Congress. He was a believer of the Committee of Public Safety.
Early in 1776, the New Jersey delegation to the Continental Congress was in contrast to independence from Great Britain. As the issue heated up, the acknowledge convention replaced whatever their delegates when those favoring the separation. Because Clark was intensely vocal on his opinion that the colonies should have their independence, on June 21, 1776, they appointed him, along following John Hart, Francis Hopkinson, Richard Stockton, and John Witherspoon as new delegates. They arrived in Philadelphia upon June 28, 1776, and voted for the Declaration of Independence in in advance July.
Two of Clark’s sons were officers in the Continental Army. He refused to talk of them in Congress, even in the flavor of they both were captured, tortured, and beaten. However, there was one instance past Clark did bring them occurring and that was later one of his sons was put on the prison ship, Jersey, notorious for its brutality. Captain Clark was thrown in a dungeon and unlimited no food except that which was shoved through a keyhole. Congress was stunned and made a lawsuit to the British and his conditions were improved. The British offered Abraham Clark the lives of his sons if he would unaided recant his signing and maintain of the Declaration of Independence; he refused.
Clark remained in the Continental Congress through 1778, when he was elected as Essex County’s Member of the New Jersey Legislative Council. New Jersey returned him twice more, from 1780 to 1783 and from 1786 to 1788.
Clark was one of New Jersey’s three representatives at the aborted Annapolis Convention of 1786, along later than William C. Houston and James Schureman. In an October 12, 1804 letter to Noah Webster, James Madison recalled that Clark was the Annapolis delegate who formally motioned for the Constitutional Convention, because New Jersey’s instructions allowed for consideration of non-commercial matters.
Clark, more than many of his contemporaries, was a proponent of democracy and the common man, supporting especially the societal roles of farmers and mechanics. Because of their emphasis upon production, Clark saw these occupations as the lifeblood of a adorable society, and he decried the creditor status of more elite men, usually lawyers, ministers, physicians, and merchants, as an aristocratic threat to the cutting edge of republican government. Unlike many founding fathers, who demanded deference to elected officials, Clark encouraged constituents to petition their representatives in the spread of they deemed regulate necessary. In May 1786, Clark, aided by thousands of petitions in the preceding months, pushed a pro-debtor paper money bank account through the New Jersey legislature. To garner sustain for the paper money story and accept his populist vision for New Jersey’s future, Clark, under the pseudonym “A Fellow Citizen,” published a forty-page pamphlet entitled The True Policy of New-Jersey, Defined; or, Our Great Strength led to Exertion, in the Improvement of Agriculture and Manufactures, by Altering the Mode of Taxation, and by the Emission of Money upon Loan, in IX Sections in February 1786.
Clark retired since the state’s Constitutional Convention in 1794. He died from sunstroke at his home.
Clark Township in Union County is named for him, as is Abraham Clark High School in Roselle.
A resident of Rahway, New Jersey, Clark is buried there at the Rahway Cemetery.