Luther Martin Biography


Birthday: February 20, 1748 (Pisces)

Born In: Metuchen

Luther Martin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, was a lawyer and politician who had refused to sign the Constitution as he felt it violated the states’ rights. He strongly identified with the patriotic cause and was an early advocate of independence of American colonies from Great Britain. Before entering the world of politics he was a brilliant lawyer with a flourishing practice. However, he could not find it in himself to ignore the state of affairs between the colonies and Great Britain. He strongly opposed the British attempts to impose taxes on the colonies and served on the patriot committee of Somerset County, New Jersey. He was made the attorney general of Maryland and in this position he prosecuted Loyalists in great numbers. He was elected to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia where he supported the smaller states and was against the creation of a government where the larger states could dominate the smaller ones. He was a strict Anti-Federalist who strongly opposed the United States Constitution as he believed it violated the states’ rights. He was an advocate of the Bill of Rights which had amendments to guarantee a number of personal freedoms and limited the government’s judicial power. He along with Patrick Henry and George Mason played a significant role in getting the Bill of Rights passed.
Quick Facts

Died At Age: 78


Spouse/Ex-: Maria Cresap

Political Leaders American Men

Died on: July 10, 1826

place of death: New York City

U.S. State: New Jersey

Diseases & Disabilities: Quadriplegia

More Facts

education: Princeton University

Childhood & Early Life
He was born as the son of Benjamin Martin and his wife Hannah who were farmers in New Jersey.
He attended the College of New Jersey (later renamed as Princeton University) and graduated in 1766.
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He became a schoolmaster at the Queen Anne’s County Free School in Maryland. During this time he also began studying law by himself using borrowed books.
In 1770, he accepted the post of a superintendent in the Onancock Grammar School on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. He taught there till 1771 when he passed the licensing examination for the bar.
He started practicing law and proved to be an excellent lawyer. Soon he was very popular and had a large client following. He gained the reputation of being a highly intelligent and capable lawyer in Virginia and Maryland.
The successful lawyer was an early advocate of the independence of American colonies from Great Britain. He was a patriot and strongly opposed the British efforts to impose taxes on the colonies.
He was elected to the patriot committee of Somerset County in 1774. The Committee was in-charge of promoting the patriot cause by enforcing the resolves of the Continental Congress. He also attended one of the Maryland Conventions which was held to coordinate the colonies’ opposition to British policies.
When Maryland adopted its first state constitution in November 1776, it also established the office of attorney general. Martin was given this position in 1778.
After this appointment he moved to Baltimore town where he joined the Baltimore Light Dragoons who prepared themselves as a cavalry unit. However, he only had a few weeks of war experience in 1781 before returning to his law practice.
He became a very prosperous lawyer after the war and a leading member of the Maryland bar. His legal knowledge and expertise combined with the long tenure of his office as the attorney general helped him shape this position into an essential part of the state government.
In 1785, he was elected to the Continental Congress but he could not travel to Philadelphia because of his private practice and personal obligations.
He was elected as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of Philadelphia in 1787. He vehemently opposed the idea of a strong central government which would enable the larger states to dominate the smaller ones. He helped to formulate the New Jersey Plan and voted against the Virginia plan.
Martin was against the proposed new Constitution and refused to sign it. He gave the reasons for his opposition in an address to the Maryland House of Delegates and in numerous newspaper articles during 1787-88.
He supported the Bill of Rights which proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution and provided for several personal freedom and protection of individual powers while limiting the government’s judicial powers in certain cases. The amendments came to effect in 1791.
He was a very well established and successful lawyer with a flourishing practice by the turn of the century in 1800. After serving as the state attorney general for a record 28 consecutive years, he resigned in 1805 from this post.
He was again made the attorney general of Maryland in 1818 and took retirement in 1822 because of health problems.
Major Works
He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America who was a stringent Anti-Federalist. He played a vital role in the passage of the Bill of Rights which provided for the protection of individual rights of the citizens. He was also a brilliant and well respected lawyer.
Personal Life & Legacy
Martin married Maria Cresap, daughter of Captain Michael Cresap in 1783. The couple had five children of whom three daughters survived to adulthood.
During his later years his fortunes declined considerably. He had become addicted to alcohol and drank to the excess. His finances and mental health also suffered because of this habit. He was struck by paralysis in 1819 and died in 1826.

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