He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, orphaned at a young age, and apprenticed to his paternal uncle in preparation for a career as a merchant. He was a patriot and leader in the demonstrations in Philadelphia resulting from the Tea Act and Stamp Act. He became a member of the Philadelphia Committee of Safety in 1773, and was elected to the Continental Congress 1776-1780. He was a Member of the Pennsylvania Legislature, a Revenue Officer, and a Federal Indian Agent from 1781-1796. He was the First president of the Philadelphia Bank, and the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, and vice-president of the Philadelphia Agricultural Society.