Robert Paine

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“Objection Maker” and Founding Father

Despite being less well-known, Robert Treat Paine was one of the important persons that signed the Declaration of Independence. He was born on March 11 in the year 1731 in Boston, Massachusetts to a respectable family. His father served as a pastor at a church in near Boston at Weymouth, but later changed profession to become a merchant when his health was deteriorating. Paine’s family history was very extraordinary. His great-grandmother was Rebecca Winslow. Through his grandmother, Paine “reportedly descended from William the Conqueror, Charlemagne, Alfred the Great and Magna Carta Baron Saire de Quincy” (Henk, and Paine). Paine went to the Boston Latin School, came out top of his class, and entered the prestigious Harvard College at the young age of fourteen. He was interested in scientific matters and even started a literacy club with his fellow friends at Harvard. In 1749, he graduated from Harvard College at the young age of eighteen. However, unfortunately for Paine, his father lost his fortune during this time and he had to provide for himself. Paine taught school for about a year in Luneneburg, Massachusetts. His health was frail and because of this, Paine decided to become a marine merchant to build up his health. In 1751 to 1754, he made altogether three voyages to North Carolina. It was during his voyages to and fro from Philadelphia that he became acquainted with some prominent people, such as the Franklin family. Paine began to study law again in the year 1755. He studied with Judge Samuel Willard in Lancaster, Massachusetts. While studying, he preached at Shirley. In 1757, he started working at the Massachusetts Bar. In that same year and month, Paine’s father passed away and he found himself carrying the family responsibilities his father had borne. He served at the Massachusetts Bar until 1770 when he was elected to Provincial Assembly. Paine married Sally Cobb in the same year and together,...
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