Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer - Elder Statesmen of the American Creation

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer - Elder Statesmen of the American Creation

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer was one of the men in the Philadelphia State House when the United States Constitution was written.

Although he was not extremely active in the proceedings, his supported and signed the Founding Document.

Receiver General

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer had a very strange name. 

While there are many theories as to where ‘of St. Thomas’ comes from, historians are simply not sure.  He wasn’t born in St. Thomas, he was born in Maryland.

Truthfully, there is not a lot of documentation regarding Jenifer’s early life.  He first comes to our attention as Receiver General for the proprietors of Maryland.

Maryland, like Pennsylvania, was chartered as a proprietary colony.  This means that one family owned the land and ran it as a for-profit business.

As Receiver General, Jenifer collected money for the colony’s proprietors.  Although this money functioned like a tax, it would more accurately be viewed as rent.  The proprietors would invest some of the earnings back into the colony and keep the rest.

Committee of Safety

Despite his association with tax collecting for Maryland’s proprietors, Jenifer joined the Patriot Cause early.

Daniel was elected to the Maryland Committee of Safety.  This Committee served as the de facto government of the colony and, as its President, Jenifer acted as military governor for two years.

After independence was declared and Maryland wrote a new State Constitution, Daniel became the first President of the State Senate. 

For most of this time, he was also one of Maryland’s representatives to the Continental Congress where he pressed for all the States to cede their western lands to the federal government.

Constitutional Convention

After the Revolutionary War concluded, Jenifer played an important role in the creation of a united national government.

First, he represented his State at the Mount Vernon Conference.  Although it’s goal was only to discuss cooperation between Maryland and Virginia to improve the Potomac River, this meeting became an early catalyst for the Constitutional Convention.

When that Convention met in Philadelphia two years later, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer was one of the delegates who created the new government.

Jenifer did not play a large role in the debates during the Constitutional Convention.  Along with Benjamin Franklin and Roger Sherman, Jenifer was an old Founder in a room full of hot headed middle-aged men.  He was looked upon for sage wisdom more than political answers.

Despite being from a small State, Jenifer supported James Madison’s Virginia plan and was happy with the Constitution, signed it, and supported it during Maryland’s ratification process.

Conclusion

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer began public life as a tax collector.  He followed this by rebelling with his country against unfair taxes.  Later still, Jenifer supported a federal government with the ability to raise revenue.  He just wanted to make sure the people were appropriately represented.

 

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If you'd like to read more about Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer and the creation of the Constitution I recommend 'Plain, Honest Men' by Richard Beeman (affiliate).  You can read my review of it here.

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