Skip to Main Content

Roger Sherman in His Own Words

John Adams wrote in his diary on September 15, 1775, “Sherman’s air is the reverse of grace, there cannot be a more striking contrast to beautiful action, than the motions of his hands…” Roger Sherman, the dour and devout Calvinist from Connecticut was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States. His long and active career in politics gave him immense experience and a keen knowledge of how to get things done in representative government. Guided by strong principles, Sherman was one of the first great legislators in United States history.

In this lesson, students will assess Sherman in his own words. They will read a brief background of Sherman’s life and experience, examine what he saw as the role of government, and assess how primary and secondary sources shape historical thinking.


  • Students will study the life of Roger Sherman
  • Students will examine quotes from Sherman from the Constitutional Convention
  • Students will analyze Sherman’s understanding of the role of government
  • Students will assess how primary and secondary sources help shape historical thinking


  1. Have students read Handout A: Background: Roger Sherman, and answer the questions.
  2. Have students read Handout B: Roger Sherman in His Own Words and answer the Discussion Questions.
  3. As a class, review the responses to the Discussion questions. Ask students to consider how summary histories and primary sources shape our thinking about historical figures.