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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CUSHING, Thomas, statesman, born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1725; died there in 1788. He was the son of a wealthy merchant, in whose counting house Samuel Adams was for a short time employed. He fell under the influence of Adams, and presently became prominent among the popular leaders who were preparing the way for the Revolution. In Nay, 1766, he was elected to the Massachusetts assembly, and immediately afterward, when James Otis, who had been chosen speaker, was refused by Governor Bernard, Mr. Cushing was chosen speaker in his stead, he was speaker of the house until 1774, and as such occupied, in the eyes of the British, a prominence greater than his abilities entitled him to. Dr. Johnson, in one of his silly pamphlets about American affairs, asserted that one of the objects of the Revolution was to place a diadem on the head of Thomas Cushing. He was not fitted for leadership, and, on several occasions showed himself weak-kneed. In 1772, along with Hancock, he opposed the formation of committees of correspondence, and afterward refused to serve on one to which he had been appointed. At the same time he is described by John Adams as possessing a rare faculty for procuring secret intelligence, which made him useful to the patriot leaders. He was elected in June 1774, to the first Continental congress, and in February 1775, to the second. He was one of those whom the king instructed Gage, in April 1775, to seize and send over to England, to be tried for treason. In July 1775, when Massachusetts formed a new government, Mr. Cushing was chosen a member of the council. In the Continental congress he opposed a declaration of independence, and consequently, in the third annum election of delegates, 19 January 1776, he did not receive a single vote, but Elbridge Gerry was elected instead. In 1783 and several following years he was lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. He was a member of the convention, held in January and February 1788, that ratified the Federal constitution.
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