Gilman was the second son in a family of eight children.
Born during the French and Indian War, he was soon aware of the military responsibilities that went with citizenship in a New England colony.
After attending local public schools, he became a clerk in his father’s trading house, but the growing rift between the colonies and Great Britain quickly force Gilman into the struggle for independence.
New England, merchants in particular resented Parliament’s attempt to end its “salutary neglect” of the financial and political affairs of the colonies by instituting measures to raise and to enforce the raising of revenue-measures that many Americans considered violations of their rights as British citizens.
Nicholas Gilman, Jr. (August 3, 1755 – May 2, 1814) was a soldier in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, a delegate to the Continental Congress, and a signer of the U.S. Constitution, representing New Hampshire.
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’s career as merchant proved short-lived.
His career as statesman continued for decades.
Gilman’s service as a Continental Army officer had exposed him to many of the ideas of such prominent nationalists as Washington and Alexander Hamilton.
Their influence, his family’s own tradition of service, and his special skill at organization all combined to divert the young veteran into a political career.
In 1786 the New Hampshire legislature appointed Gilman to the Continental Congress.
He was also selected in 1786 to represent the state at the Annapolis Convention.
Although he was unable to attend, his selection recognized Gilman’s emergence as a nationalist spokesman, since the convention had been called specifically to address the country’s serious economic problems and the inability of the separate states or Congress to solve them.
Nicholas’ brother John Taylor Gilman served as New Hampshire’s Governor for 14 years.
His brother’s responsibilities and the fact that Nicholas was born during the French-Indian battles, helped Nicholas, the second born in a family of eight, understand the value of patriotism.
His political ideologies and military convictions were further shaped by his father’s involvement in the fight for economic freedom against the British alongside Enoch Poor and Nathaniel Folsom.
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 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.
On his way home from Washington after the 1814 senate recess, Gilman died.
Despite his switch from the Federalist Party to the Republican-Democrat’s wing, Gilman commands respect as the New Hampshire’s son with unmatched political prowess and a conscious thinking pattern embodied in his quotes.
For example, Gilman referred to the supreme law of the land as the best that could meet the needs of the States in Convention whether delivered through bargain or compromise, imperfections aside.