Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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GILMAN, John Taylor, governor of New Hampshire, born in Exeter, New Hampshire, 19 December 1753 ; died there, 1 September, 1828. He belonged to a family which for a century and a half, according to a well-informed writer, influenced " the political, ecclesiastical, social, and financial history of New Hampshire," and" did more to keep up the steady course of the colony, the province, and the state, certainly till 1815, than any two or three other families together." He was the son of Nicholas Gilman, a leading spirit in political affairs during the Revolution, and fourth in descent from John Gilman, one of the earliest settlers of Exeter, New Hampshire, who, when the state was separated from Massachusetts in 1680, was appointed one of the royal councillors. On the morning after the, news of the battles of Lexington and Concord had been received, John Taylor marched with 100 other minutemen from Exeter to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he served in the provincial army. Soon afterward he became assistant to his father, who had been made treasurer of the state. In October, 1780, he sat as a delegate from New Hampshire in the convention at Hartford called to take measures for the defense of the country. After serving in the Continental congress in 1782-'3, he succeeded his father as treasurer of the state. This office he held until appointed one of three commissioners whose duty it was to settle the accounts of the states with the old confederation. He resigned in 1791, and was again chosen state treasurer. In 1794 he was elected governor, re-elected annually until 1805, and again in 1813-'14 and 1815, but subsequently declined to be a candidate for re-election. He was a member of the legislature in 1810-'11. Although a zealous Federalist, so great was his popularity that he was frequently chosen governor when his party was in a minority.--His brother, Nicholas, senator, born in Exeter, New Hampshire. 3 August, 1755; died there, 2 May, 1814, early acquired scholarly tastes and methodical habits, which were still more strongly emphasized under the careful instruction of his father. At the age of twenty-one Mr. Gilman entered the army, as adjutant in Colonel Scammell's regiment, and served with distinction until the close of the war. For some time he was a member of Washington's military family, and upon him was devolved the duty of taking account of the prisoners surrendered by Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. In 1780 General Arnold urged Mr. Gilman to accept an appointment on his staff. Mr. Gilman's reply was characteristic. Fearing that Arnold would not be engaged in active movements, he said: 'If I should come into your family and be confined in the dreary wilderness of the highlands, while our operations are going on against the City, which possibly may be the case, my situation would be as distressing as that of Fabius M. when he had recourse to the flaming cattle." He was a member of the Continental congress from 1786 till 1788, and after the adoption of the constitution a representative of New Hampshire from 1789 till 1797. In 1805 he became a member of the United States senate, which office he held till the close of his life. He was one of the presidential electors in 1793 and 1797, and he was also one of the state councillors. In September, 1787, Mr. Gilman was a member of the convention that met at Philadelphia to frame a constitution for the United States. On 18 September the secretary of the convention took the report of the proceedings to congress, and on the same day Mr. Gilman sent a copy of the new constitution to his cousin, Joseph Gilman, who during the war had been chairman of the committee of safety, with the following significant comment: [The plan] " is the best that could meet the unanimous concurrence of the states in convention. It was done by bargain and compromise, yet--notwithstanding its imperfections--on the adoption of it depends, in my feeble judgment, whether we shall become a respectable nation or a people torn to pieces by intestine commotions and rendered contemptible for ages." Mr. Gilman was a man of deeds rather than words, and was personally very popular. He was of graceful figure and elegant carriage; his manners were courtly and his charities Were bestowed with liberality and kindliness. These traits, united with his methodical habits and fidelity in the performance of duty, kept him long in public life.
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