Roger Sherman, born in Newton, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1721, exemplifies the self-made man. After attending the local "common" schools he was apprenticed as a cobbler, but he became a self-taught mathematician and scholar. After his father's death he entered business with his brother in Connecticut and studied and practiced law. From 1755 until his death he was active in public affairs, including service as New Haven County surveyor, an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the colony, and a member of the state legislature. Treasurer of Yale University from 1765 to 1776, he was later awarded an honorary degree. In 1774 he was elected the first mayor of New Haven, a post he held until his death.
Respected by his contemporaries, Sherman was the only member of the Continental Congress who signed all four of the great state papers: the Association of 1774, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence. Patrick Henry called him one of the three greatest men at the Constitutional Convention. He proposed the dual system of congressional representation, which was adopted. Under the pseudonym "A Countryman" he wrote a series of newspaper letters to the people of Connecticut supporting the Constitution.
Elected a representative to the first Congress in 1789–1791 and to the senate in 1791, he was regarded as one of the most influential members of Congress. Roger Sherman died on July 23, 1793, and is buried in New Haven.