Jared Ingersoll was born on October 24, 1749, in New Haven, Connecticut. He was the son of Jared Ingersoll (1722-1781) and Hannah Whiting. His father was a prominent British official with strong Loyalist sentiments; his siding with the British led to his being tarred and feathered by radical Patriots. When Great Britain imposed the Stamp Act on the American colonies in 1765, the elder Jared Ingersoll was appointed to be Stamp Master, Connecticut’s agent in London. A few months later, he “became the most hated man in the Colony.” The Sons of Liberty hung his effigy in New London, Connecticut, and in Norwich, Virginia. He was the agent who enforced the Stamp Act in Connecticut. Jared had one brother named James.
Jared Ingersoll, the son, attended Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven and completed his studies there in 1762. He “graduated from Yale College in 1766, studied law in Philadelphia, and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1773.” He drawn to the Patriot cause but tried to avoid it due to his “strong sense of personal loyalty to his distinguished father.” He escaped the “growing political controversy” by taking his father’s advice to “continue his study of the law at the Middle Temple School (1773-76)” and to tour Europe. During the eighteen months he spent in Paris, he became an acquaintance of Benjamin Franklin.
Soon after the American colonies declaration of independence from Great Britain, Ingersoll declared his personal commitment to the Patriot cause. By the time he arrived in Philadelphia in 1778, he was a confirmed Patriot. Influential friends helped him to establish a law practice, and he became a delegate to the Continental Congress (1780-81). On December 6, 1781, Ingersoll married Elizabeth Pettit, the daughter of Charles Pettit. The couple was blessed with four sons, three of whom survived to adulthood. Charles Jared Ingersoll (October 3, 1782 – May 14, 1862) was a famous diplomat, author, and U.S. Congressman (1813-1815; 1841-1847). Harry Ingersoll. Joseph Reed Ingersoll (1786-1868) was named after his father’s mentor, became a prominent attorney, and served as U.S minister to England while Millard K. Fillmore was U.S. President. Edward Ingersoll.
Jared Ingersoll was a statesman and attorney in Philadelphia, and a supporter of the Patriots’ cause of liberty. His training in the law led him to believe that the inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation were to blame for the problems new nation. “He became an early and ardent proponent of a simple revision of the Articles of Confederation.” Several weeks of debate took place at the Constitutional Convention before Ingersoll was convinced that a new document was necessary. He attended all the sessions; he seldom participated in the debates, but he signed the U.S. Constitution.
Ingersoll greatest contribution to the constitutional form of government came after the Convention when he “helped define many of the principles enunciated at Philadelphia,” particularly through “several Supreme Court cases that defined various basic points in Constitutional law during the beginning of the new republic.” Of particular note, he represented Georgia in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793). He lost the case because the court ruled that a state could be sued by a citizen of another state. This idea was reversed and state sovereignty replaced by the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution.
Attorney Ingersoll represented Hylton in Hylton v. US (1796) and was “involved in the first legal challenge to the constitutionality of an act of Congress. In this case, the Supreme Court upheld the government’s right to impose a tax on carriages.” He also acted as counsel in “various cases that helped clarify constitutional issues concerning the jurisdiction of federal courts and U.S. relations with other sovereign nations, including defending Senator William Blount of Tennessee against impeachment.”
Ingersoll returned to his law practice after the creation of the new national government. He did however have a few political experiences. He was a member of Philadelphia’s Common Council (1789) and opposed the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800. He joined DeWitt Clinton on the Federalist Party ticket during the 1812 presidential election, but they were defeated by James Madison and Elbridge Gerry. His other political offices were attorney general of Pennsylvania (1790-99 and 1811-17), Philadelphia’s city solicitor (1798-1801), U.S. district attorney for Pennsylvania (1800-1801), and presiding judge of the Philadelphia district court (1821-22).
Jared Ingersoll died on October 31, 1822, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of 73. He was survived by three children. He was buried in the Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Fourth and Pine Streets. Madison, Wisconsin, named Ingersoll Street in his honor.