Robert Treat Paine

Robert Treat Paine


Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814), best remembered as a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a prominent public figure in Massachusetts for over 30 years. Beginning in 1770, he stood as co-counsel for the Crown in the Boston Massacre Trials, and he served until 1804 on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. In this long career during a most important phase of Massachusetts and American history, Paine participated in numerous local and statewide committees. He served in the House of Representatives and on the governor's Council for Massachusetts, in the Provincial Congress, in the Continental Congress, as the attorney general of Massachusetts, and as a delegate to the state's constitutional convention.

Printed Edition

The Papers of Robert Treat Paine (vols. 1-5) is a selected edition of documents primarily from the Robert Treat Paine collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Covering his public and private lives, the published Papers draws together correspondence to and from Paine beginning with his days at Harvard. When complete, the five-volume edition will include all of his correspondence with family, friends, clients, and fellow lawyers. Selected pieces also provide examples of his allegorical writings, his sermons, and his Harvard undergraduate club writings.

Ordering & Availability

Volume 1 (1746-1756) and Volume 2 (1757-1774), edited by Stephen T. Riley and Edward W. Hanson, were published in 1992.  These volumes can be ordered from the Society's distributor, the University of Virginia Press.

Volumes 3, edited by Edward W. Hanson, was published in 2005.

Volumes 4 and 5, also edited by Edward W. Hanson, are forthcoming.

Robert Treat Paine Papers in the Archive

To read about the Society's manuscript collections, which encompass many of the Paine documents in the published edition, please visit the Collections web pages. The microfilm edition of the complete Robert Treat Paine Papers includes a full item listing of the contents of the Robert Treat Paine Papers at the Society and a name index.


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