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Belcher, Jonathan, 1681-1757

Colonial governor; born in Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 8, 1681; was graduated at Harvard College in 1699. He visited Europe. Where he became acquainted with the Princess Sophia and her son afterwardss George I. of England), which led to his future honors. After a six years sojourn he returned to America, engaged in mercantile business in Boston, became a member of the Provincial Assembly, and in 1729 was sent as agent of the provinces to England. In 1730 he was appointed governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, which office he held eleven years. He was authorized to accept from the legislature of Massachusetts a standing salary of $5,000 a year, to be paid first out of the annual grants. When he first met the legislature (September, 1730), he tried to bring about a settlement for a standing salary. but could not, and the Assembly was dissolved. To secure a majority in the next House, the governor tried to gain the influence of certain leaders by gifts of office; but their acceptance diminished their popularity, and he gained nothing. The people had been encouraged by the English press, which had commended the Bostonians for their [312] “noble stand” against the demands of Burnet, which had “endeared them to all lovers and asserters of liberty.” The new court was unmanageable by the governor, and he accepted a grant of a salary for one year. In consequence of a clamor against him, he was superseded in 1741, but succeeded in vindicating himself before the British Court. Belcher was made governor of New Jersey, and arrived in 1747, where he passed the remainder of his life. He extended the charter of the College of New Jersey, and was its chief patron and benefactor. He died in Elizabethtown, N. J., Aug. 31, 1757.

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