Thomas Cushing

From Academic Kids

Thomas Cushing (March 24, 1725-February 28, 1788) was an American lawyer and statesman from Boston, Massachusetts. He was a delegate for Massachusetts in the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776, and Lt. Governor of the state from 1780 to 1788. Between the resignation of John Hancock and the inauguration of James Bowdoin, he served as Acting Governor of Massachusetts.

Thomas was born into a prosperous and leading mercantile family of Boston. His father, also Thomas Cushing (1694-1746), was a leading member of the Old South Church and selectman. Thomas, Sr. was a frequent moderator of town meetings, and accepted the gift of Faneuil Hall from Peter Faneuil in 1742, served in the General Court (colonial assembly) of Massachusetts from 1731-1747, and as its speaker after 1742. His mother, Mary (Bromfield) Cushing (1689-1746) was also from another prominent family. Our Thomas was born at Boston on March 24, 1725, and was the eldest of four children.

Thomas got his early education from Boston Latin School, followed by Harvard where he graduated in 1744. He studied law and was admitted to the bar. On October 1, 1747 he married Deborah Fletcher (c 1727-1790). After a brief time in his father's counting house, as a co-worker with Samuel Adams, he practiced law in Boston.

Thomas was elected to the state assembly in May of 1766, and shortly afterward became its speaker. The Assembly first chose James Otis, but Governor Bernard rejected this choice, and Cushing was named as a compromise candidate between the Whigs and the Tories. He held this post for the rest of the life of the colonial assembly, until 1774.

For a long time Cushing remained opposed to the revolution, and then to American Independence. In 1772 he refused to serve when named to one of the Committees of Correspondence. He was nevertheless, elected one of the delegates to the first Continental Congress in 1774, and to the second in 1775. While not supporting revolution his prominence was such that in April, 1775 he was ordered arrested, to be sent to England and tried for treason. Fortunately he never fell into Governor Gage's hands. When Massachusetts formed a revolutionary government that summer, he was elected to the Council.

In 1776 his opposition to independence continued. So when delegates were elected for the next session of the Continental Congress on January 19, he got no votes. Elbridge Gerry took his seat in the congress. When he finally came to support the revolution he served the Continental Army as commissary general for Massachusetts.

Cushing declined re-election to the Continental Congress in 1779, but accepted election as the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1780 and held that post until his death. He attended the state convention that ratified the United States Constitution. Thomas died on February 28, 1788, and is buried in the Granary Burying Ground in Boston.

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Preceded by:
John Hancock
Governor of Massachusetts Succeeded by:
James Bowdoin

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