Caleb Strong

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Caleb Strong was born on January 9, 1745, in Northampton, one of the principal towns of Hampshire County on the Connecticut River in the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

His parents were Phebe Lyman Strong and Caleb Strong, the latter a descendant of early Massachusetts settlers, and Caleb was their only son.

He received his early education from Rev. Samuel Moody, and entered Harvard College in 1760, graduating four years later with high honors.

He was shortly thereafter afflicted with smallpox, which temporarily blinded him and prevented him from engaging in the study of law for several years.

Caleb Strong (January 9, 1745 – November 7, 1819) was a Massachusetts lawyer and politician who served as the sixth and tenth Governor of Massachusetts between 1800 and 1807, and again from 1812 until 1816.

He assisted in drafting the Massachusetts State Constitution in 1779 and served as a state senator and on the Massachusetts Governor’s Council before being elected to the inaugural United States Senate.

Although he sought to retire from politics after losing the 1807 governor’s race, the advent of the War of 1812 brought him back to the governor’s office as a committed opponent of the war.

He refused United States Army requests that state militia be placed under army command, and in 1814 sought to engage Nova Scotia Governor John Coape Sherbrooke in peace talks.

Strong’s legal practice thrived during the tumultuous war years and was one of the most successful in Hampshire County.

He became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1775 and was appointed county attorney of Hampshire County the following year, a post he held until 1800.

On more than one occasion he was offered a seat on the state’s Supreme Court, but rejected the position on account of its inadequate salary.

Strong was described by a contemporary as meticulously detailed in his preparation of legal paperwork and a persuasive advocate when speaking to a jury.

When the Constitution came into force in 1789, Strong was chosen by the state legislature to serve in the United States Senate.

As what is now known as a Class 2 Senator he came up for reelection in 1792, when he was again chosen.

He was one of the principal drafters of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the federal courts.

He was also instrumental in 1793 and 1794 in the development and passage by Congress of the 11th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Caleb Strong, the Federalist candidate, defeated Elbridge Gerry to become Governor of Massachusetts in 1800.

Despite the growing strength of the Democratic Party in the state, Strong won reelection annually until 1807.

In 1812 he regained the governorship, once again over Gerry, and retained his post until he retired in 1816.

During the War of 1812 Strong withstood pressure from the Secretary of War to order part of the Massachusetts militia into federal service.

Strong opposed the war and approved the report of the Hartford Convention, a gathering of New England Federalists resentful of Jeffersonian policies.