Jared Ingersoll

Jared Ingersoll (October 24, 1749 – October 31, 1822) was an early American lawyer and statesman from Philadelphia.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Ingersoll was the son of Jared Ingersoll (1722–1781), a prominent British official whose strong Loyalist sentiments would lead to his being tarred and feathered by radical Patriots.

Jared Ingersoll was a supporter of the Revolutionary cause.

His training as a lawyer convinced him that the problems of the newly independent states were caused by the inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation.

He became an early and ardent proponent of constitutional reform, although, like a number of his colleagues at the Constitutional Convention, he believed this reform could be achieved by a simple revision of the Articles.

Only after weeks of debate did he come to see that a new document was necessary.

Shortly after the colonies declared their independence, Ingersoll renounced his family’s views, made his personal commitment to the cause of independence, and returned home.

In 1765, he arrived in Boston from England charged with the commission of stamp agent for Connecticut, a position Benjamin Franklin had advised him to accept.

After the demonstrations against the obnoxious act in various parts of the colonies, Ingersoll, assured of the governor’s protection, tried to reason the people of New Haven into forbearance.

Surrounding his house, they demanded him to resign. “I know not if I have the power to resign,” he replied.

He promised, however, that he would return any stamps that he received or leave the matter to their decision.

He was finally compelled to offer his resignation. His actions not satisfying the people of other sections of Connecticut, he resolved to place himself under the protection of the legislature in Hartford, in order to save his house from an attack.

In 1778 he arrived in Philadelphia as a confirmed Patriot. With the help of influential friends he quickly established a flourishing law practice, and shortly after he entered the fray as a delegate to the Continental Congress (1780–81). In 1781 Ingersoll married Elizabeth Pettit.

Always a supporter of strong central authority in political affairs, he became a leading agitator for reforming the national government in the postwar years, preaching the need for change to his friends in Congress and to the legal community.

Subsequently, Ingersoll held a variety of public positions: member of the Philadelphia common council (1789); attorney general of Pennsylvania (1790-99 and 1811-17); Philadelphia city solicitor (1798-1801); U.S. District Attorney for Pennsylvania (1800-01); and presiding judge of the Philadelphia District Court (1821-22).

Meantime, in 1812, he had been the Federalist Vice-Presidential candidate, but failed to win election.

While pursuing his public activities, Ingersoll attained distinction in his legal practice. For many years, he handled the affairs of Stephen Girard, one of the nation’s leading businessmen.

In 1791 Ingersoll began to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and took part in some memorable cases.

Although in both Chisholm v. Georgia (1792) and Hylton v. United States (1796) he represented the losing side, his arguments helped to clarify difficult constitutional issues.

He also represented fellow-signer William Blount, a senator, when he was threatened with impeachment in the late 1790s.