Roger Sherman (April 19, 1721 – July 23, 1793) was an early American politician and lawyer. During his lifetime, Sherman served in various capacities. One such post was when he served as the first New Haven's mayor. He also served on the Five Committee that was responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence. In addition, he served as a new republic's senator and representative.
Roger Sherman and Robert Morris were the only two Founding Fathers to have signed all four of the great papers in the United States. These are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation and the Articles of Association.
Roger Sherman grew up at Stoughton in Massachusetts where his family settled. Sherman received his early education from his father’s private library (not formal school), later attending grammar school. Sherman was a gifted learner, constantly craving more knowledge, and Harvard educated Rev. Samuel Dunbar took him on as a study. In Sherman’s early career, he designed shoes.
Sherman moved, together with his siblings and his mother, to New Milford on foot after his father’s death in 1743. Together, he and his brother opened and ran the first store in the town. Sherman quickly became one of the town’s leading citizens after introducing himself to both civil and religious affairs. Eventually, he became New Milford's clerk. In 1745, he became a surveyor due to his excellent mathematical skills. In 1748, he was a provider of astronomical calculations for almanacs of the day.
A local lawyer urged Sherman to read for the bar exam even though he did not have any formal training. Sherman was later admitted to the Litchfield bar in 1754 and acted as a representative of New Milford in the General assembly of Connecticut between 1755 and 1758 and again from 1760 to 1761. Sherman was elected to the Upper House of the Connecticut General Assembly and served there until 1785.
In 1762, Sherman received an appointment to serve in the Court of Common Pleas as a justice of the peace, moving on to become a Judge in 1765. Eventually, he left the court for the Congress of the United States in 1789. He also served as a treasurer in Yale College where he received an honorary Masters in Arts degree. He was appointed together with Richard Law to participate in revising Connecticut statutes. After succeeding in these revisions, Sherman was elected as a New Haven's mayor in 1784. He held this position until his death.
In 1775, the Revolutionary War began and Sherman received an appointment to the Council of Safety by the Connecticut Governor as well as being a commissary to the troops. He was then elected, in 1774 to the Continental Congress, a position which he continued to actively serve through the Revolutionary War. This raised respect for him in the eyes of his fellow delegates and he then went on to do important work, assisting in drafting the Declaration of Independence while serving on the Committee of Five.
During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Sherman offered a solution to the amendment of the Articles of Confederation. This solution was to become known as the Great Compromise and entailed the people being represented in the house by proportionate representatives in a single branch of the legislature, known as the Lower House or the House of Representatives, which would feature one representative for every 30,000 people. In comparison, the Upper House had 2 senators per state, no matter what the size of the state was.