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Henry Laurens
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    (March 6, 1724-December 8, 1792)
    Born in Charleston, South Carolina
    Delegate to the Second Continental Congress (1777-80)
    President of the Continental Congress (1777-78)
    Minister to the Netherlands (1780)
    Captured by the British and imprisoned in the Tower of London, charged with treason (1780-81)
    Was exchanged for Lord Cornwallis
    Named one of the Commissioners to negotiate a peace treaty with Great Britain (1782)
    Was allegedly the first white person cremated in America
    Namesake of Laurens County, South Carolina
    He made his fortune trading slaves.
    His main contribution to the peace treaty ending the American Revolution was inserting a clause banning the British from 'carrying away any negroes or other property of American inhabitants.'
    He was asked to attend the Continental Congress but declined.
    He asked to be cremated because he had a horror of being buried alive. (Apparently, he was A-OK with the possibility of being burned alive.)
    His house was burned down by the British.
    The British hinted that they would release him if he persuaded his son John, who was in France negotiating naval support for the Revolution, to return home. His reply was, 'My son loves me dearly and would lay down his life to save mine. But I am sure that he would not sacrifice his honor to save my life, and I applaud him.'
    His son John died in the Battle of the Combahee River (1782).
    After the Revolution, he honored John's wishes and freed his slaves.

Credit: C. Fishel

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