He was chairman of the commission which drafted the charter for Greater New York, and in 1897 was defeated as Republican candidate for mayor of the city.
In the pre-revolutionary controversies he identified himself with the American Whigs; in 1773 he prepared for Salem a paper entitled State of the Rights of the Colonists; in 1 775 he drafted a memorial protesting against the Boston Port Bill; and in 1776 he was a representative from Salem in the general court of Massachusetts.
He was a member of the state legislature from 1782 to 1798, and in 1791 drafted the act which abolished primogeniture in South Carolina.
He was on the committee which drafted the Declaration of Independence, and also on that which drafted the Articles of Confederation.
This latter function is discharged by written messages addressed by the president to Congress, the message sent at the beginning of each session being usually the most important; but the suggestions made in these messages do not necessarily or directly induce legislation, although it is open to him to submit a bill or have one drafted by a minister presented to Congress through a member.