National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Robert Treat Paine Papers

Massachusetts Historical Society

Additional information at

Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814) was a lawyer and jurist, and a delegate to the Continental Congress. In 1770 Paine stood as counsel for the prosecution in the Boston Massacre trials. Almost two decades later, he prosecuted the Shays’s Rebellion treason trials. While Paine is best remembered for his involvement in these two well-known cases, he was a prominent public figure in Massachusetts for over 30 years. In his long career Paine served all along the legal spectrum of the colony-turned-state: as a lawyer, a jurist, and a delegate to the Continental Congress, where he signed the Declaration of Independence. He contributed to the development of legal form and precedent in the new state when he served as the first attorney general of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1777-1790), on the Committee for Revising Laws of the state, and as a justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (1790-1804).

Four volumes of a five-volume edition, as well as a digital edition


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Robert Treat Paine, 19th c. engraving, courtesy Library of Congress


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