Eliphalet Dyer, Portrait

Eliphalet Dyer was a delegate to the Continental Congress. This etching of Dyer was made by Albert Rosenthal [New York Public Library].

Eliphalet Dyer

September 14, 1721–May 13, 1807 — Patriot

Eliphalet Dyer was a lawyer, politician, and judge from Connecticut. He was a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, the First Continental Congress, the Second Continental Congress, and the Confederation Congress. He also served in the French and Indian War.

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Early Life

  • Dyer was born in Windham, Connecticut, on September 14, 1721.

Education

  • In 1740, he graduated from Yale, where he studied law.

Family

  • His daughter, Amelia, married Joseph Trumbull, who served in the Continental Congress

Professional Career

  • In 1746, Dyer was admitted to practice law.

Political Career

  • Dyer served as the Town Clerk and Justice of the Peace in Windham.
  • In 1747, he was elected to the Connecticut legislature. He was re-elected multiple times between 1747 and 1784.
  • In 1765, he represented New Jersey at the Stamp Act Congress.
  • In 1766, he was elected Judge of the Superior Court.
  • In 1774, he attended the First Continental Congress.
  • In 1775, he was elected to Connecticut’s Committee of Safety.
  • In 1777, he was elected to the Second Continental Congress.
  • In 1782, he was elected to the Confederation Congress.
  • In 1789, he was elected as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Superior Court and served in that role until 1793.

Susquehanna Land Company

  • Dyer was an original member of a group that wanted to establish a Connecticut colony in the Susquehanna Valley, but the French and Indian War interrupted the plan.
  • In 1753, he was a member of the committee to purchase the title to the land selected for the proposed colony at Wyoming.
  • The land was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and there were tribes living there that resisted the encroachment of the colonists.
  • In 1755, he was selected as the company’s agent to petition the Connecticut General Assembly on its behalf.
  • In 1763, he was sent as the company’s agent to England but failed in his effort to obtain confirmation from the crown of the title to the Wyoming region.
  • After he returned from his trip to Britain, he became comptroller of the port of New London.

French and Indian War

  • In August 1755, Dyer was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of a regiment in the Connecticut Provincial Militia. His regiment participated in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga from the French.
  • In 1758, he was Colonel of a regiment sent to Canada in the campaign led by General Jeffrey Amherst and General James Wolfe.

Delegate to the Stamp Act Congress

On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a stamp to be placed on all legal documents and many printed materials in the colonies.

In May, news of the new law reached the colonies. There was immediate opposition, including riots in Boston, Massachusetts, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Savannah, Georgia.

On June 8, 1765, the Massachusetts Assembly sent a circular letter to the legislatures of the other colonies, inviting them to send delegates to a congress in New York to discuss a unified response to the Stamp Act. The precedent for such a meeting had been set by the Albany Congress in 1754.

Nine of the 13 colonies, including Connecticut, chose to send delegates to the meeting, which was held in New York City. Dyer was elected as a delegate from Connecticut, along with William Samuel Johnson and David Rowland.

The Stamp Act Congress convened on October 7, 1765. On October 19, the Stamp Act Congress issued a Declaration of Rights and Grievances. Congress sent petitions to the King and both houses of Parliament and asked for the Stamp Act to be repealed.

Dyer voted in favor of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, however, the delegates from Connecticut were not authorized to sign their names to the official documents of the Stamp Act Congress.

On November 1, 1765, the Stamp Act took effect, but there were no stamp masters available to distribute the stamps. They had resigned or refused to perform their job due to violence and intimidation against them.

On March 18, 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, primarily due to protest from British merchants who believed it would damage their prospects of doing business in the colonies. However, on that same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, which declared it had the “full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.”

First Continental Congress

  • In 1774, Dyer was a delegate to the First Continental Congress and signed the Continental Association.

Second Continental Congress

  • In 1775, Dyer was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
  • He was a delegate to the Congress again, from 1777 to 1779.
  • He was not a member of Congress in 1776, so he did not sign the Declaration of Independence.

Confederation Congress

  • From 1781 to 1783, Dyer was a delegate to the Confederation Congress.

American Revolutionary War

  • In May 1775, Dyer became a member of the Connecticut Committee of Safety. He served on the Committee of Safety until it was dissolved in 1783.
  • In December 1776, he declined an appointment as Brigadier General of the Militia.

Retirement

  • In 1793, Dyer retired to his home in Windham.

Death

  • Dyer died on May 13, 1807, in Windham, Connecticut.
  • He was buried at Windham Cemetery in Windham.

Significance

Eliphalet Dyer is important because he represented Connecticut in many of the most important political events of the American Revolution, including the Stamp Act Congress, First Continental Congress, Second Continental Congress, and Confederation Congress. He also served in the Connecticut Provincial Militia during the French and Indian War.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Eliphalet Dyer
  • Coverage September 14, 1721–May 13, 1807
  • Author
  • Keywords French and Indian War, Stamp Act, Stamp Act Congress, First Continental Congress, Second Continental Congress, Congress of the Confederation
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date November 29, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update November 22, 2021
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