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Nicholas Gilman

Nicholas GilmanState: New Hampshire

Age at Convention: 32

Date of Birth: August 3, 1755

Date of Death: May 2, 1814

Schooling: Local schools

Occupation: Businessman of family store, real estate and land speculations, lending and investments, public security interests, politician, soldier

Prior Political Experience: Confederation Congress (1786-1788)

Committee Assignments: Committee of Leftovers

Convention Contributions: Arrived July 23, present through the signing of the Constitution. Arrived too late to participate in the debate over representation of states. William Pierce stated that "Mr. Gilman is modest, gentile and sensible. There is nothing brilliant or striking in his character, but there is something respectable and worthy in the Man." [Editor's Note: Mr. Pierce left the Convention on July 2 and never returned. Mr. Gilman did not arrive until July 23. Accordingly, it is difficult to tell when and how Mr. Pierce's character sketch was written.]

New Government Participation: Attended the New Hampshire ratification convention and supported the ratification of the Constitution. Served as Representative (1789-1797) for New Hampshire. New Hampshire U. S. Senator (1804-1814).


Biography from the National Archives: Member of a distinguished New Hampshire family and second son in a family of eight, Nicholas Gilman was born at Exeter in 1755. He received his education in local schools and worked at his father's general store. When the War for Independence began, he enlisted in the New Hampshire element of the Continental Army, soon won a captaincy, and served throughout the war.

Gilman returned home, again helped his father in the store, and immersed himself in politics. In the period 1786-88 he sat in the Continental Congress, though his attendance record was poor. In 1787 he represented New Hampshire at the Constitutional Convention. He did not arrive at Philadelphia until July 23, by which time much major business had already occurred. Never much of a debater, he made no speeches and played only a minor part in the deliberations. He did, however, serve on the Committee of Leftovers. He was also active in obtaining New Hampshire's acceptance of the Constitution and in shepherding it through the Continental Congress.

Gilman later became a prominent Federalist politician. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1789 until 1797, and in 1793 and 1797, he was a presidential elector. He also sat in the New Hampshire legislature in 1795, 1802, and 1804, and in the years 1805-8 and 1811-14, he held the office of state treasurer.

Meantime, Gilman's political philosophy had begun to drift toward the Democratic-Republicans. In 1802, when he was defeated for the U.S. Senate, President Jefferson appointed him as a bankruptcy commissioner, and 2 years later as a Democratic-Republican he won election to the U.S. Senate. He was still serving there when he passed away at Philadelphia, while on his way home from Washington, DC, in 1814 at the age of 58. He is interred at the Winter Street Cemetery at Exeter.