Facts and Events
Paca was tutored at home in the classics before attending Philadelphia College at age fifteen, where he graduated at eighteen with a Masters degree in 1759. He then studied law in Annapolis at the office of an eminent lawyer. Before seeking admission to the Bar of Maryland, he attended training at the Inner Temple in England. He was admitted to the bar in 1764; returned home and commenced the practice of his profession at Annapolis in 1764.
His political engagement began in his interest in the law. He wrote and organized against a poll-tax originated by the royal governor just prior to the outbreak of hostilities. He was a local leader in the patriot movement in the late 1770s --Elected to the State Legislature of Maryland in 1771, he was appointed to the Continental Congress in 1774. He was reelected and served in 1779, signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He also served in the State senate 1777-1779. He was appointed chief judge of the superior court of Maryland 1778-1780; chief justice of the court of appeals in prize and admiralty cases 1780-1782. He was elected Governor of Maryland, serving from November 1782 to November 1785; was influential in establishing Washington College in Chestertown, Md., in 1786; delegate to the State convention in 1788 which ratified the Federal Constitution; appointed by President Washington as judge of the United States Court for Maryland and served from 1789 until his death at “Wye Hall,” Queen Anne County, Md., October 23, 1799; interment in the family burial ground, Queen Anne County, Md.
Bibliography: Stiverson, Gregory A., and Phebe R. Jacobsen. William Paca, A Biography. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1976