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Robert Treat Paine was a Massachusetts attorney and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He graduated from Harvard in 1749, then worked as a merchant in southern trade--sailing to the Azores and to Spain. In 1755 he served as chaplain for the Crown Point campaign. Paine returned to Boston in 1756 to continue his law studies and was admitted to the bar in 1757. Appointed a justice of the peace in 1763, he served in various local capacities until 1770, when he assisted in the prosecution of the Boston Massacre Trials.
The Boston Massacre Trials began Paine's involvement in provincial politics. He also acted as a delegate to the first Continental Congress and was elected the first Massachusetts Attorney General in 1777. As attorney general, he supervised the condemnation of Tory estates, prosecuted the insurgents following the Shays's Rebellion, participated in the Commonwealth's Constitutional Convention, and served on the committee to revise laws. Appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in 1790, Paine served on the bench until retiring in 1804.
The papers in this microfilm collection include Paine's letters; business, legal and financial papers; diaries and journals; annotated almanacs; sermons; and sea journals. Especially interesting are the political and judicial papers in the collection. They include minutes of trials and law cases, notes and letters on trials (including the Boston Massacre Trial), plus Paine's records from his legal practice.
Titles from the Massachusetts Historical Society Collections may be purchased by individual reel.
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“These testimonies take the historical stories out of the realm of history and place them in the realm of the human.”