Laurens, Henry

Laurens, Henry

(lôr`ənz, lär`–), 1724–92, political leader in the American Revolution, b. Charleston, S.C. A wealthy merchant and planter, he was, in the years preceding the Revolution, an opponent of British colonial policy, although he disapproved of the radical policies of some colonists. Late in 1774 he was elected to the first provincial congress of South Carolina and was an active advocate of independence. He was later a member of the Continental Congress (1777–80) and its president (1777–78). In 1780, while en route to the Netherlands with the draft of a possible U.S.-Dutch treaty prepared by William LeeLee, William,
1739–95, American Revolutionary diplomat, b. Westmoreland co., Va.; brother of Arthur Lee, Francis L. Lee, and Richard H. Lee. He opened a business house in London in 1768 and later was a political supporter of John Wilkes and became (1775) an alderman of
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, Laurens was captured by the British and was imprisoned in the Tower of London and later exchanged (1782) for General Cornwallis; the treaty was used as a reason for war between Great Britain and the Netherlands. Laurens was a commissioner to negotiate the Treaty of Paris (1783) but arrived too late to take much part in the negotiations. Publication of his papers was begun in 1968.

Bibliography

See biography by D. D. Wallace (1915, repr. 1967).

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Laurens, Henry

(1724–92) merchant, Revolutionary politician; born in Charleston, S.C. A wealthy businessman, he entered the second Continental Congress in 1777 and served as its second president (1777–78). In 1780 he was captured by the British while on his way to the Netherlands on a diplomatic mission. He was imprisoned and finally exchanged for General Charles Cornwallis (1782). He immediately went on to serve at the peace conference that produced the Treaty of Paris (1783). He served as an unofficial ambassador to England until returning to his estate in South Carolina (1784).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.