The Honorable George Cabot
George Cabot was born Dec. 3, 1751 and like so many of his peers entered Harvard. Unlike his peers, however, he left Harvard in his sophomore year to follow the call of the sea. Beginning as a cabin boy, George Cabot was master of a ship by age 21, making several successful voyages.
Perhaps it was the long hours on the ocean that gave him the time to develop his acute mind, which he began to turn towards the political and economic issues of the day. At just 25 years of age he was chosen for the Massachusetts provincial congress. This provisional government of Massachusetts was established in direct violation of the King’s orders and was led by John Hancock. They moved from town to town to avoid capture and served as the government of the state outside of Boston in all matters.
From there his stature grew and in 1788 he became a member of the constitutional convention for the state. The Senate was the next likely step and he served in the United States Senate from 1791-96 then moving to put his early knowledge of seafaring to work as Secretary of the Navy in 1798, the first person to fill that new post.
Working closely with his personal friends, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, George Cabot was recognized as one of the best thinkers about political economy of his time. This earned him the presidency of the Hartford Convention, formed during the war of 1812 to discuss constitutional amendments that would protect the interests of the New England states. George Cabot was the great-grandfather of Henry Cabot Lodge.
On his death on April 18, 1823, George Cabot was eulogized by fellow MBS Trustee and Harvard President (and at one time his pastor at New South Church), John T Kirkland, who described him in this way:
“This was the great charm about him—that while he made men wiser, he made them better; and if in all that he did there seemed to be no labour, it was, that the strength, with which he grasped every subject, was accompanied by a grace and a sweetness of discourse, by which the effort was hidden.”