Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CLARK, Abraham, signer of the Declaration of Independence, born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, 15 February, 1726: died in Rahway, 15 September, 1794. He was the only child of Thomas Clark, and was born on his father's farm. He received a good English education, and showed special fondness for the study of mathematics and of civil law. He devoted himself to surveying and conveyancing. His legal advice, given gratuitously, procured for him the title of "poor man's counselor." He became high sheriff of the county of Essex and clerk of the colonial assembly of Amboy under the royal domain. At the beginning of the revolution he distinguished himself as an active member of the committee of public safety. On 21 June, 1776, with Richard Stockton, John Hart, Francis Hopkinson, and Dr. John Wither-spoon, he was elected by the provincial congress as a v delegate to the Continental congress, and was instructed to join with the delegates of the other colonies, if necessary, in declaring the united colonies independent of Great Britain. Accordingly, he affixed his name to the Declaration of Independence. In November, 1776, he was elected to the Continental congress, and was continuously re-elected until 1783 with the exception of one year, 1779, and again served in 1787-'8. He was a member of the New Jersey legislature from 1782 till 1787, and while holding that office acquired great influence, and was held responsible by the people for all of the important measures passed during his term of service. An act to regulate practice in the courts of law in that colony became known as "Clark's law," and a strong spirit of enmity was manifested by the members of the bar against the supposed framer of it. Although opposed to the emission of debased money, he was styled the "Father of the Paper Currency" on account of his presumed influence being given toward the introduction of such a measure. He was a delegate to the convention that framed the Federal constitution in 1787, and in 1789 was appointed a commissioner to settle the accounts of New Jersey with the United States. Later he became a member of congress, serving from 24 October, 1791, till his death. During his congressional career he participated in the debates concerning the relations of England with the United States, and moved a resolution to prohibit all intercourse with Great Britain until full compensation was made to our citizens for the injuries sustained by them from British armed vessels, and until the western posts should be delivered up. A bill conforming to Mr. Clark's resolution was carried by a considerable majority in the house, but was lost in the senate by the casting vote of John Adams, the vice-president. His death was the result of a sunstroke, which proved fatal in two hours.
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