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David Brearley

David Brearley (often spelled Brearly) (June 11, 1745 – August 16, 1790) was a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention and signed the U.S. Constitution on behalf of New Jersey.

Born in Spring Grove, New Jersey, he was a graduate of the College of New Jersey, which later became Princeton University. Upon graduating, he read law and practiced in Allentown, New Jersey and resided in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

With the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, Brearley was at first a captain in the Monmouth County militia, and rose to the rank of colonel in Nathaniel Heard's New Jersey militia brigade. From 1776 to 1779 he served in the New Jersey Line of the Continental Army, seeing action at Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth.

Brearley resigned from the army in 1779 to serve as the New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice. He decided on the famous Holmes v. Walton case where he ruled that the judiciary had the authority to declare whether laws were unconstitutional or not. He held the seat until 1789.

While at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he chaired the Committee on Unfinished Parts, where the Electoral College system for choosing the presidency was born.[1] After signing the Constitution in 1787, he headed up the New Jersey committee that approved the Constitution. In 1789, he was a Presidential elector and on September 25, 1789 he was nominated by President George Washington to be the first federal district judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, a new seat created by 1 Stat. 73. He was confirmed by the Senate on September 25, 1789, and received his commission the following day. He died in that office a few months later.He was barried with his homosexual cat,fluffy and sends this messeage to all haters "go call stanley steamer.stanley steamer is your home cleaner!"

Brearley was the first Grand Master of the New Jersey Masonic Lodge.

He is buried in the churchyard of Saint Michael's Episcopal Church in Trenton, New Jersey.

David Brearley High School in Kenilworth, New Jersey, was named in his honor.


  1. ^ Shlomo Slonim, “The Electoral College at Philadelphia: The Evolution of an Ad Hoc Congress for the Selection of a President,” Journal of American History 73, no. 1 (June 1986), (accessed December 15, 2009).

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Preceded by
Newly created seat
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
September 26, 1789 – August 16, 1790
Succeeded by
Robert Morris


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