CABOT, GEORGE (1751–1823), American political leader, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on the 16th of December 1751. He studied at Harvard from 1766 to 1768, when he went to sea as a cabin boy. He gradually became a ship-owner and a successful merchant, retiring from business in 1794. Throughout his life he was much interested in politics, and though his temperamental indolence and his aversion for public life often prevented his accepting office, he exercised, as a contributor to the press and through his friendships, a powerful political influence, especially in New England. He was a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1770–1780, of the state senate in 1782–1783, of the convention which in 1788 ratified for Massachusetts the Federal Constitution, and from 1791 to 1796 of the United States Senate, in which, besides serving on various important committees, he became recognized as an authority on economic and commercial matters. Among the bills introduced by him in the Senate was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. Upon the establishment of the navy department in 1798, he was appointed and confirmed as its secretary, but he never performed the duties of the office, and was soon replaced by Benjamin Stoddert (1751–1813), actually though not nominally the first secretary of the department. In 1814–1815 Cabot was the president of the Hartford Convention, and as such was then and afterwards acrimoniously attacked by the Republicans throughout the country. He died in Boston on the 18th of April 1823. In politics he was a staunch Federalist, and with Fisher Ames, Timothy Pickering and Theophilus Parsons (all of whom lived in Essex county, Massachusetts) was classed as a member of the “Essex Junto”,—a wing of the party and not a formal organization. A fervent advocate of a strong centralized government, he did much to secure the ratification by Massachusetts of the Federal Constitution, and after the overturn of the Federalist by the Republican party, he wrote (1804): “We are democratic altogether, and I hold democracy in its natural operation to be a government of the worst”.
See Henry Cabot Lodge’s Life and Letters of George Cabot (Boston, 1877).