Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Maryland

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Maryland

United States Founding Father, Daniel St. Thomas Jenifer served faithfully for years in the colonial government of Maryland, then embraced Patriotism whole heartedly and served the colonial revolutionary movement.

Daniel Jenifer was born in 1723 in Maryland's Charles County. His father was a planter who hailed from both English and Swedish ancestry. He held a position as a receiver-general which made him a financial agent for Maryland's last two proprietors, then served faithfully as a Justice of the Peace in his native Charles County, then expanded to serve the Western Circuit. He was instrumental in a commission that resolved a notorious boundary dispute between Maryland and Pennsylvania in 1760, and held several positions of high esteem which aided the office of the governor.

Jenifer resented Parliament's unilateral interference with Colonial affairs despite his earlier affiliation with the government before the revolution and was vocal most notably against taxation and trade issues. Being a wealthy land owner and plantation holder, he threw his support on the side of the Patriots, despite earlier disagreements with the party. His leadership of Maryland's finances from 1782-1785 allowed the state to survive the critical economic depression after the Revolutionary war.

Close friends with George Washington and many other founders including James Madison and John Dickinson, Jenifer sought creative ways to solve political and economic hardships following what he perceived to be a weakened position, and was a part of the Mount Vernon Conference which eventually directly contributed to the later Constitutional Convention.

Although limited in his day-to-day activities in the Philadelphia Convention by his advanced age, Jenifer took strong stands on issues affecting his states and enjoyed the elder statesman status that his age afforded. Throughout his elder years, his central focus remained on the State's Union, resolved to find a permanent and strong position, in addition to his belief that a Central Government was necessary to guarantee financial security. Due to his experience as a successful landowner, he believed that a Congress that represented the people should keep the ability to tax. He also was a strong advocate for a term of only three years for delegates for the House of Representatives, fearing indifference if elections were too frequent, and the exclusion of influential or prominent candidates. On this point, however, he was outvoted. Jenifer was notoriously known for his humor and candor as was his friend Benjamin Franklin and was often able to resolve conflict between delegates and was a continual advocate of compromise between sides to reach a mutually beneficial decision. His humor was often reflected in the quotes that have been saved for long after his death, such as his utterance after his defeat on the term of office for elected delegates to the House of Representatives, which he accepted with grace and gratitude of the decisions of former opponents.

After the Convention in Philadelphia, Jenifer enjoyed retirement, returning to his plantation near Annapolis named Stepney, and later died in 1790. He requested that his slaves be freed from service after 6 years following his death, and he bequeathed his large 16,000 acre land holding to his nephew.

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