Luther MartinLuther Martin
Maryland

 

Mr. Martin was educated for the Bar, and is Attorney general for the State of Maryland. This Gentleman possesses a good deal of information, but he has a very bad delivery, and so extremely prolix, that he never speaks without tiring the patience of all who hear him. He is about 34 years of age.

William L. Pierce, eyewitness


Like many of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, Luther Martin attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), from which he graduated with honors in 1766. Though born in Brunswick, NJ., in 1748, Martin moved to Maryland after receiving his degree and taught there for 3 years. He then began to study the law and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1771.

Martin was an early advocate of American independence from Great Britain. In the fall of 1774 he served on the patriot committee of Somerset County. Maryland appointed Luther Martin its attorney general in early 1778. In this capacity, Martin vigorously prosecuted Loyalists, whose numbers were strong in many areas. Tensions had even led to insurrection and open warfare in some counties. While still attorney general, Martin joined the Baltimore Light Dragoons. In July 1781 his unit joined Lafayette's forces near Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Martin married Maria Cresap on Christmas Day 1783. Of their five children, three daughters lived to adulthood. His postwar law practice grew to become one of the largest and most successful in the country. In 1785 Martin was elected to the Continental Congress, but this appointment was purely honorary. His numerous public and private duties prevented him from traveling to Philadelphia.

At the Constitutional Convention Martin opposed the idea of a strong central government. When he arrived on June 9, 1787, he expressed suspicion of the secrecy rule imposed on the proceedings. He consistently sided with the small states and voted against the Virginia Plan. On June 27 Martin spoke for more than 3 hours in opposition to the Virginia. Martin served on the committee formed to seek a compromise on representation, where he supported the case for equal numbers of delegates in at least one house. Before the convention closed, he and another Maryland delegate, John Francis Mercer, walked out.

 

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