PLATER, GEORGE. (1735–1792). American planter, lawyer, and statesman from Saint Mary’s County, Maryland; he represented Maryland in the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1780, and briefly served as the sixth Governor of Maryland in 1791 and 1792. Uncommon Autograph Letter Signed, “Geo Plater”. One full page, legal folio. No place, June 22, 1766. To Maryland Governor, Horatio Sharpe. Plater writes:
Sir, I expected before this time Bolton would have been with you, but am sorry to tell you that the other Day he acquainted me that having engaged in the building of some churches he could not comply with his promise to me to attend you — This I fear will be a great Disappointment to you, & I am vexed -with the Man’s Behaviour [sic] on the Occasion, but it is of a Piece with most of the good workmen in this Country. I have taken this earliest opportunity to inform you of it that you may look out & provide yourself with one elsewhere, & I wish it may not retard your Building. [The building alluded to was ‘Whitehall, Sharpe’s country seat and later permanent residence until his return to England. It was being built in 1766.]
By this Messenger your Excellency will receive the Proceedings of our Court relative to the Trial & Condemnation of a Slave, the Property of Mr Hugh Hopewell; his Crime not being of a very heinous Nature, & his Master desirous of saving him as it was his first offence. I am not fond of having Rogues escape Punishment, but on the contrary ( I should rather choose they should suffer an Example to others (particularly Negroes) among whom Villainy and Roguery is but too common; yet on this occasion I must hope your Excellency will grant what is desired.
At Mr. Lee’s request I send you a Mare to Othello for him, the Bearer will place her wherever you shall wish. I am with great regard, Your Excellency’s most obt & obliged humble servant, George Plater.
George Plater was born in Md. in 1736, graduated from William and Mary in 1753, studied law and began practice in Annapolis; was a delegate to the Continental Congress 1778-81; president of the State Constitutional Convention which ratified the Federal Constitution. Elected Governor of Maryland in November 1791, he died after a few months in office. Plater came from a very wealthy Maryland family. He and his father before him were known for their humanitarian ideas and actions. The first of the Dulaney family to come to America was an indentured servant to the elder Plater, who recognized the others great native ability, freed him:, sent him to England to study law at the Inner temple and later set him up in practice in Maryland. The Platers were frequently freeing slaves. As to George Plater’s political achievements, he was the first to propose in Congress that the western lands claimed by various seaboard states, notably Virginia, be made part of the common property of the United States, to be given statehood later. By refusing to sign the Articles of Confederation, Maryland delegates were successful in their strategy. Virginia and the others gave in at the beginning of 1781. Plater in 1788 and 1789 was a federalist and pushed for the ratification of the Constitution. A choice piece of Americana!