He was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, and studied medicine at Yale College, graduation in 1756. He established a medical practice in Charleston, South Carolina, then bought land in Georgia in 1760 for a plantation (while continuing to practice medicine).
He was elected to the Continental Congress, serving though 1780. When the British reached his property in Georgia, it was burned, and he was accused of high treason. He fled, initially to Charleston, and later to Connecticut.
He returned to Georgia in 1782 and was elected to the House of Assembly in 1783, subsequently becoming governor. He occupied further posts in the Assembly and on the bench, then returned to private life.