Meet Daniel St. Thomas Jenifer, a Founding Father of the United States
A leader in Maryland’s colonial government, Daniel St. Thomas Jenifer was a politician and Founding Father of the United States. He was a staunch supporter of patriotism and served the Colonial revolutionary movement faithfully.
Born in Charles County, Maryland, in 1723, he hailed from both English and Swedish ancestry. As a receiver general, he was a financial agent for Maryland when he was a young man. Later, he became justice of the peace, still in Charles County, and then later expanded his jurisdiction to the Western Circuit. During the boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland in 1760, he was asked to step in and resolve it. This success led him to several high positions in the aid of the office of the governor.
He didn’t like the influence the British Parliament had on the Colonial affairs, even though he worked for the government before the revolution. He was also strongly against taxation and trade issues. He supported patriots’ side as a wealthy landowner and plantation holder, even though he previously had many disagreements with the party. Because of his financial leadership of Maryland from 1782 to 1785, he helped the state survive the post–Revolutionary War’s economic depression.
Jenifer was close friends with many other Founding Fathers, most notably George Washington, James Madison, and John Dickinson. Together, they looked for creative ways to solve political and economic difficulties and became part of the Mount Vernon conference that led to the Constitutional Convention.
As an elderly statesman, he was limited in his activities in the Philadelphia convention but still stood up for issues affecting his states. During this time, he focused centrally on the State’s Union. Jenifer was resolved to find a position that was permanent and strong, and he believed that financial security could only be obtained through a central government. As a successful landowner, he believed that Congress should keep the ability to tax because they represented the people. He advocated a three-year term for members of the House of Representatives. Jenifer feared that fewer than that would mean frequent elections that would make voters indifferent and that it would exclude candidates who were either influential or prominent. This, for him, was a no-win situation due to the fact that he was outvoted. However, he took it with grace and gratitude. He was known to be quite humorous and candid and always advocated looking for compromises to reach a decision that was mutually beneficial to both sides. Because of this, he is often quoted long after his death.
After the Philadelphia convention, he retired and enjoyed his stay in his plantation until his death in 1790. One of his final requests was to free all his slaves six years after his death. He bequeathed his estate to his nephew.
Constitution Day. 2017. “Daniel St. Thomas Jenifer, Maryland.” Accessed on April 21, 2017. http://www.constitutionday.com/jenifer-daniel-st-thomas-md.html.