Benjamin Chew

The Politics of Peace:
Benjamin Chew and the American Revolution

Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Benjamin Chew, Esq. (1722-1810) was a fifth generation American: a patriot, a traitor, an Anglican, a Quaker, and the father of a dozen daughters.

Trained in law at an early age by Andrew Hamilton, Benjamin Chew inherited Hamilton’s clients, the descendants of William Penn (including his sons Thomas and Richard, and their sons Governor John PennRichard, Jr., and John Penn).

For the next six decades, Chew quietly untied crucial legal and political knots, and by doing so, facilitated the growing sense of personal freedom that led directly to the American Revolution.

Chew was brought up as a Quaker and looked at the world through the lens of reciprocity, and equanimity. His perspective was not hierarchal. Instead, he saw men and women as equals, and that included enslaved and free people alike. As a leading Middle Temple lawyer of his time, he put his skills to work, behind the scenes, to advance his vision of justice.

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