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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PACA, William, signer of the Declaration of Independence, born in Wyehall, Harford County, Maryland, 31 October, 1740; died there in 1799. He was the descendant of a wealthy planter on the east shore of Maryland, in which state the family had resided for several generations. He was graduated at Philadelphia college in 1759, entered the Middle Temple, London, as a student, 14 January, 1762, and was admitted to the bar in 1764. He opposed the operation of the stamp-act in 1765, and every succeeding measure of the British government that asserted its right to tax the colonies without their consent. He was a member of the state legislature from 1771 to 1774, and was active in his opposition to the royal government. He was a member of the committee of correspondence in 1774, a delegate to congress in 1774-'9, and signed the Declaration of Independence. During the earlier part of Mr. Paca's congressional career he was embarrassed by the opposition of his constituents to a separation from Great Britain, and it was not till June, 1776, that the Maryland convention withdrew their restrictions upon the votes of their delegates in congress. On the adoption of the constitution of Maryland he was made state senator, and served in 1777-'9. He was chief judge of the superior court of that state from 1778 till 1780, and then became chief judge of the court of appeals in prize and admiralty cases, which place he retained for two years. He was governor of Maryland in 1782-'6, a delegate to the state convention that ratified the United States constitution in 1788, and was United States district judge (to which office he had been nominated by President Washington) from 1789 till his death. He contributed from his private wealth to the patriot cause, and served upon many important local committees. His first wife was a daughter of Samuel Chew.
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