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|Founding Documents||Declaration of Independence|
Carter Braxton (September 10, 1736 – October 10, 1797) was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention from the state of Virginia and one of the Founding Fathers that signed the Declaration of Independence. He was a county sheriff in 1772-73 and was a well known moderate from a wealthy family. Braxton served in the Virginia House of Burgesses and was a delegate to the Continental Congress. Originally, he opposed independence but later changed his mind. Braxton would become a member of the Virginia state legislature and Governor's Council of State until his death.
Braxton was born at Newington Plantation, on the Mattaponi River, in King and Queen County, Virginia. His grandfather Robert "King" Carter was a landowner and the wealthiest man in Virginia. His father was a politically influential planter and his mother died giving birth. Braxton graduated from the College of William and Mary. He married Judith Robinson when he was 19, but his wife would die two years later in child birth.
The following year, he left for an extended visit to England where he attended Cambridge University. Braxton returned to Virginia in 1760 and at the age of 25, in 1761, Carter remarried to Elizabeth Corbin and entered the House of Burgesses.
In 1769 he signed the Virginia Resolves, a document protesting parliamentary regulation of the colony's affairs. Braxton was instrumental in preventing the outbreak of war in Virginia after the Royal Governor seized the Williamsburg Magazine. Upon dissolution of the royal government, he accepted a position on the council of safety, the temporary governing body. In 1775, Braxton was selected to fill a vacancy in Congress caused by the death of Peyton Randolph and arrived in Philadelphia in 1776.
At first he sharply criticized the independence movement, publishing a pamphlet Address to the Convention. Eventually he yielded to the majority. Afterwards, the Virginia Convention voted to recall Braxton from Congress, but he served there just long enough to vote for independence and sign the Declaration.
During the War, he had loaned £10,000 sterling to support the revolutionary cause as a major financier of the effort together with Robert Morris. He had also used his wealth to sponsor shipping and privateering during the conflict. The British captured most of his vessels and ravaged some of his plantations and extensive landholdings.
As a result of being in favor of the cause of Liberty, Braxton's personal fortune was hit hard, leaving him in a state of virtual insolvency for which he never recovered. In 1786, was forced to leave his inherited country estate. Braxton moved to Richmond, where he died in 1797 at the age of 61.
- An Address to the Convention of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia; on the Subject of Government in General, and Recommending a Particular Form to Their Consideration