Early Years Luther Martin was one of nine children of Benjamin and Hannah Martin. The date of his birth is generally believed to be 20 February 1748. Luther worked on his father’s farm in New Jersey until 1760, when he was sent away to attend the grammar school at Princeton in preparation for his attendance at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Luther set out for Maryland when he graduated in 1766 and began a brief career as a schoolteacher. In April 1767 he was appointed schoolmaster of Queen Anne’s County Free School, with an annual salary of twenty pounds.
Law Student Martin began to study the law while he was teaching school, reading most evenings in the library of a benefactor and neighbor, Solomon Wright. In 1770 Martin left his position as schoolmaster to study law full-time as an apprentice to Samuel Wilson at Back Creek, Maryland. After only a few weeks of work under Wilson’s tutelage Martin was approached to take on the responsibilities of superintendent of a grammar school in Accomack County, Virginia. He accepted this assignment but continued his legal studies. In September 1771, when he considered his studies complete, Martin presented himself in Williamsburg, Virginia, for oral examination for admission to the bar. His examiners were the esteemed lawyers George Wythe and John Randolph. Martin passed his examination and was admitted to the practice of law.
Source: Luther Martin from encyclopedia.com
Luther Martin attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), from which he graduated with honors in 1766. He studied the law and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1771.
Martin was an early advocate of American independence from Great Britain. In the fall of 1774 he served on the patriot committee of Somerset County, and in December he attended a convention of the Province of Maryland in Annapolis, which had been called to consider the recommendations of the Continental Congress. Maryland appointed Luther Martin its attorney general in early 1778. In this capacity, Martin vigorously prosecuted Loyalists, whose numbers were strong in many areas. Tensions had even led to insurrection and open warfare in some counties. While still attorney general, Martin joined the Baltimore Light Dragoons. In July 1781 his unit joined Lafayette's forces near Fredericksburg, VA., but Martin was recalled by the governor to prosecute a treason trial.
In 1785 Martin was elected to the Continental Congress, but this appointment was purely honorary. At the Constitutional Convention Martin opposed the idea of a strong central government. When he arrived on June 9, 1787, he expressed suspicion of the secrecy rule imposed on the proceedings. He consistently sided with the small states and voted against the Virginia Plan. On June 27 Martin spoke for more than 3 hours in opposition to the Virginia Plan's proposal for proportionate representation in both houses of the legislature. Martin served on the committee formed to seek a compromise on representation, where he supported the case for equal numbers of delegates in at least one house. Before the convention closed, he and another Maryland delegate, John Francis Mercer, walked out.
He lamented the ascension of the national government over the states and condemned what he saw as unequal representation in Congress. Martin opposed including slaves in determining representation and believed that the absence of a jury in the Supreme Court gravely endangered freedom. At the convention, Martin complained, the aggrandizement of particular states and individuals often had been pursued more avidly than the welfare of the country. The assumption of the term "federal" by those who favored a national government also irritated Martin.
In 1826, at the age of 78, Luther Martin died in Aaron Burr's home in New York City and was buried in an unmarked grave in St. John's churchyard.
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