Jared Ingersoll (October 24 1749 October 31 1822) was an early American lawyer and statesman from Philadelphia.
He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and signed the U.S. Constitution for Pennsylvania. He joined DeWitt Clinton on the Federalist Party ticket for the U.S. presidential election, 1812, but was defeated by James Madison and Elbridge Gerry.
Ingersoll also served as Pennsylvania state attorney general, 1791-1800 and 1811-1816 and as the United States Attorney for Pennsylvania, 1800-1801.
Life and career
Jared Ingersoll overcame the strong influence of his Loyalist father to become 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. Ironically, his major contribution to the cause of constitutional government came not during the Convention, but later during a lengthy and distinguished legal career when he helped define many of the principles enunciated at Philadelphia.
Career before the Constitutional Convention
Ingersoll was the son of a prominent British official, whose strong Loyalist sentiments would lead to his being tarred and feathered
by radical Patriots
. Ingersoll graduated from Yale College
in 1766, studied law in Philadelphia, and was admitted to the bar in 1773. Although by training and inclination a Patriot sympathizer, the young Ingersoll shied away from the cause at the outset because of a strong sense of personal loyalty to his distinguished father. On his father's advice, he sought to escape the growing political controversy at home by retiring to London to continue his study of the law at the Middle Temple
(1773-76) and to tour extensively through Europe. But 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 1778 he arrived in Philadelphia as a confirmed Patriot. With the help of influential friends he quickly established a flourishing law practice, and shortly thereafter he entered the fray as a delegate to the Continental Congress (1780-81). 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.
During his time in Connecticut he was a supporter and area collector for The Stamp Act. Until the resistance from New England began to spread and colonist uproar began. Angry colonists met Ingersoll on the roads out side of Hartford. It is there that the protesters demanded his resignation. They accompanied him to Hartford where he publicly renounced his title and is said to have thrown off his periwig, and cheered for liberty to the delight of the crowd.
Contributions to the Constitutional Convention
At the Convention, Ingersoll was counted among those who favored revision of the existing Articles of Confederation, but in the end he joined with the majority and supported a plan for a new federal government. Despite his national reputation as an attorney, Ingersoll seldom participated in the Convention debates, although he attended all sessions.
Career after the Constitutional Convention
Once the new national government was created, Ingersoll returned to the law. Except for a few excursions into politics—he was a member of Philadelphia's Common Council (1789) and, as a stalwart Federalist who considered the election of Thomas Jefferson
in 1800 a "great subversion;' he ran unsuccessfully for Vice President on the Federalist ticket in 1812—his public career centered on legal affairs. He served as attorney general of Pennsylvania (1790-99 and 1811-17), as Philadelphia's city solicitor (1798-1801), and as U.S. district attorney for Pennsylvania (1800-1801). For a brief period (1821-22) he sat as presiding judge of the Philadelphia district court.
Ingersoll contributed to the constitutional process through his involvement in several key Supreme Court cases that defined basic points in constitutional law during the early years of the new republic. For example, he represented Georgia in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), a landmark case in states' rights. Here the court decided against him, ruling that a state may be sued in federal court by a citizen of another state. This reversal of the notion of state sovereignty was later rescinded by the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution. In representing Hylton in Hylton v. US (1796), Ingersoll was also involved in the first legal challenge to the constitutionality of an act of Congress. In this case, the Supreme Court upheld the government's right to impose a tax on carriages. Ingersoll also served as counsel in various cases that helped clarify constitutional issues concerning the jurisdiction of federal courts and U.S. relations with other sovereign nations, including defending Senator William Blount of Tennessee against impeachment.
- This article incorporates text from Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution written by Robert K. Wright, Jr. and Morris J. MacGregor, Jr. Center of Military History United States Army Washington, D.C., 1987. released in the Public Domain.
America and its peoples: a mosaic in the making / James Kirby Martin ... [et al.].-5th ed.