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Thomas Fitzsimons

Thomas Fitzsimons (1741–1811) was an American merchant and statesman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and the U.S. Congress.

Fitzsimons was born in Ireland around 1741. By 1760 he had immigrated to Philadelphia, and began work as a clerk in a mercantile house. He married Catherine Meade on November 23, 1761 and formed a business partnership with her brother George. Their firm specialized in the West Indies trade, and would operate successfully for over 41 years.

As the Revolution neared, he supported the Whig position. Early in the Revolutionary War he served as captain of a company of home guards, but the only report of their actions was to support the regular troops for the Battle of Trenton in 1776. Later in the war he provided supplies, ships, and money in support of Pennsylvania’s forces.

Fitzsimons entered active politics as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1782 and 1783. He was a member of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives in 1786 and 1787. He was also a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787. Although not a leading member of that convention, he did support a strong national government, opposed slavery, the congress powers to tax import and exports, the granting the house of representatives, the senate equal power in making treaties, and the end of slavery. He was one of only two Catholic signers of the United States Constitution.

After the constitution was established, he served in the first three sessions of the House, finally failing to win re-election in 1794. He lost to upstart John Swanwick, who carried 7 of Philadelphia's 12 Districts and 57% of the vote. This was partially attributed, not to Fitzsimons's own fault but to public opinion turning against the Federalist Party, to which he belonged, in the wake of the Whiskey Rebellion's suppression.

While withdrawing from politics, Fitzsimons remained active in civic and business affairs. He served as president of Philadelphia's Chamber of Commerce, as a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, and a director of the Bank of North America. He was a founder of the bank, and supported efforts to found the College of Georgetown.

Thomas died on August 26, 1811 in Philadelphia and was buried in the cemetery of St. Mary's Catholic Church there. (The cemetery is now part of the Independence National Historical Park.)

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United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
District Created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's At-large congressional district

1789 - 1791
alongside: George Clymer, Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg, Thomas Hartley, Thomas Scott, Henry Wynkoop, Daniel Hiester and Peter G. Muhlenberg

1791 - 1793
alongside: Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg, Thomas Hartley, Israel Jacobs, John W. Kittera, Daniel Hiester, William Findley, and Andrew Gregg
1793 - 1795
alongside: Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg, John W. Kittera, Thomas Hartley, Thomas Scott, James Armstrong, Peter G. Muhlenberg, Andrew Gregg, Daniel Hiester, William Irvine, William Findley, John Smilie, and William Montgomery

Succeeded by

1st: John Swanwick
2nd: Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg
3rd: Richard Thomas
4th: Samuel Sitgreaves and John Richards
5th: Daniel Hiester
6th: John Andre Hanna
7th: John W. Kittera
8th: Thomas Hartley
9th: Andrew Gregg
10th: David Bard and Samuel Maclay
11th: William Findley
12th: Albert Gallatin

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