Nicholas Gilman was born 8 August 1755 in Exeter, New Hampshire, United States to Nicholas Gilman (1731-1783) and Ann Taylor (1729-) and died 2 May 1814 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of unspecified causes.
Nicholas Gilman was a soldier in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, a delegate to the Continental Congress, and a signer of the U.S. Constitution, representing New Hampshire. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives during the first four Congresses, and served in the U.S. Senate from 1804 until his death in 1814.
Birth & Childhood
Gilman was the second son in a family of eight children. Born during the French and Indian War, he was soon aware of the military responsibilities that went with citizenship in a New England colony. After attending local public schools, he became a clerk in his father's trading house, but the growing rift between the colonies and Great Britain quickly thrust Gilman into the struggle for independence. New England merchants in particular resented Parliament's attempt to end its "salutary neglect" of the financial and political affairs of the colonies by instituting measures to raise and to enforce the raising of revenue-measures that many Americans considered violations of their rights as British citizens. Gilman's father, along with Nathaniel Folsom and Enoch Poor, emerged as a leader of the Patriot cause in Exeter.
He represented his community in the New Hampshire Provincial Congresses, which met just after hostilities broke out at Lexington and Concord in 1775 and which later drafted the one hundred and thirty eight state constitution. During the American Revolution he served as the state's treasurer. His oldest son, John, was a sergeant in Exeter's company of militia that marched to fight the Redcoats around Boston. Nicholas remained behind, but already an ardent supporter of the Patriot cause, he likely trained with the local militia regiment. He was thirty-two at the constitutional convention. The state he represented is New Hampshire. Nicholas Gilman was a strong federalist.
In November 1776, a committee of the state legislature appointed young Nicholas Gilman to serve as adjutant, or administrative officer, of the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment. That unit was in the process of a complete reorganization under the direction of its commander, Colonel Alexander Scammel. A superb combat officer, Scammell made good use of Gilman's administrative talents in the task of creating a potent fighting force out of the limited manpower resources at hand-a combination of raw recruits from around the state and ragged veterans of the Trenton-Princeton campaign. In time the 3rd New Hampshire would be recognized as one of the mainstays of General Washington's Continental Army. Because New Hampshire lay along the major invasion route from Canada to New York, George Washington assigned its regiments a key role in the strategic defense of the northern states. In the spring of 1777 Gilman and the rest of the officers and men of the 3d New Hampshire marched to Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain to participate in an attempt by American forces to halt the advance of a powerful army of British and German regulars and Indian auxiliaries under General John Burgoyne. Difficulties in coordinating the efforts of several different states turned Gilman's first military experience into one of defeat. The veteran British troops outflanked the fort, and only at the last minute did the garrison, including the 3d New Hampshire, escape capture by making a dangerous night .
The American retreat lasted through the early summer, until a combination of British transportation difficulties and delaying tactics employed by the continentals finally slowed the enemy advance. This delay allowed time for a mass mobilization of New England militia, including a New Hampshire Regiment of volunteers led by John Langdon and Gilman's father. It also provided Major General Horatio Gates with time to establish new positions near Saratoga, New York, to block Burgoyne's further advance, and then, once Gates had a numerical advantage, to cut off the British line of withdrawal to Canada. During this campaign Gilman was busily employed in supervising the training and readiness of Scammell's men. He participated with his unit in two important battles at Freeman's Farm, where Burgoyne's units were so pummeled that "Gentleman Johnny" was eventually forced to surrender his whole army.
Neither Gilman nor Scammell was granted a respite after this great victory. Less than a week after the British surrender, the 3rd New Hampshire set out to reinforce Washington's main army near Philadelphia. The American capital had recently fallen to a larger British force, and the New Englanders had to spend a harsh winter in the snows of Valley Forge. That winter encampment put the units of the Continental Army to their supreme test, a time of suffering and deprivation from which they emerged as a tough, professional combat team. Gilman's administrative skills came to the fore at this time. When Washington selected Colonel Scammell to serve as the Continental Army's Adjutant General, Scammell made Gilman his assistant. Promotion to the rank of captain followed in June 1778.
For the remainder of the war Gilman found himself in close proximity to the military leaders of the Continental Army. His duties in carrying out the myriad tasks necessary to keep a force in the field placed him in daily contact with Washington, Steuben, Knox, Greene, and others. He personally saw action in the remaining battles fought by Washington's main army, including Monmouth and Yorktown, while continuing to hold his captain's commission in the New Hampshire Line. The death of Colonel Scammell, however, during the preliminary skirmishing before Yorktown robbed him of much of the joy of that great victory. Following the death of his father in late 1783, he retired from military service and returned to Exeter to assume control of the family's business.
This lawyer served two terms in the national Congress.
In the summer of 1787, he was one of two delegates representing New Hampshire at the Constitutional Convention. He served on the eleven-member Convention Committee on Postponed Matters to find an acceptable compromise on method of electing the President of the United States.