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History and GovernmentCongressional BiographiesNorth Carolina

Cornelius HARNETT


HARNETT, Cornelius, a Delegate from North Carolina; born near Edenton, Chowan County, N.C., April 20, 1723; moved with his parents to Brunswick in 1726 and later to Wilmington, N. C.; engaged in mercantile pursuits; appointed by Governor Johnston as justice of the peace for New Hanover County in April 1750; elected town commissioner in August 1750 and served at different times for eleven years; member of the colonial assembly 1754-1775; chairman of the Sons of Liberty of North Carolina and leader in the resistance to the Stamp Act in 1765 and 1766; member of the committee of correspondence in 1773 and 1774; chairman of the Wilmington Committee of Safety in 1774 and 1775; member of the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Provincial Congresses in 1775 and 1776, serving as president in the Fifth; delegate to the provincial council in 1775 and 1776, and served as president of the council, thus becoming chief executive of the new government; excepted by Sir Henry Clinton from his proclamation of general amnesty in 1776; councilor of state in 1777; Member of the Continental Congress 1777-1779; captured by the British upon their occupation of Wilmington, N.C., in January 1781, and died as a prisoner in Wilmington on April 28, 1781; interment in St. James’ Churchyard.


Connor, R. D. W. (Robert Digges Wimberly). Cornelius Harnett; An Essay in North Carolina History. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, [1971].

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present

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