Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BRYAN, George, jurist, b in Dublin, Ireland, in 1731; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 27 January, 1791. He came to this country in early life, and was engaged some years in commercial pursuits in Philadelphia. He was a member of the state assembly, and in 1765 was a delegate to the stamp-act congress, in which, and in the subsequent struggle, he took an active part. He was vice-president of the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania from the period of the Declaration of Independence, and in May, 1778, was advanced to the presidency. In November of that year he sent a message to the assembly, pressing upon their attention a bill proposed by the council in 1777 for the gradual abolition of slavery in the state. "In divesting the state of slaves," said he, "you will equally serve the cause of humanity and policy, and offer to God one of the most proper and best returns of gratitude for his great deliverance of us and our posterity from thrahlom." In 1779 Bryan was elected to the legislature. On his motion the subject was referred to a committee, of which he himself was a member, and he prepared the draft of a law for gradual emancipation. He was appointed judge of the state Supreme Court in 1780, and remained in that office until his death. In 1784 he was elected one of the council of censors, he strenuously opposed the adoption of the federal constitution.
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