- Distinguished military career
- Commissioned to survey the Ohio River
- Reviled by Virginians as stamp distributor
- Died while undergoing mental treatment
An honorable military career
George Mercer was born in Frederick County in 1733, studied at the College of William and Mary, and afterward served as George Washington’s aide-de-camp during the French and Indian War.
In 1754, he was wounded at Fort Necessity and rose to the rank of captain in the First Virginia Regiment. From 1754-1760, he was lieutenant colonel in William Byrd's Second Virginia Regiment.
Commissioned to survey the Ohio River
He was commissioned by William and Mary to survey the lands of the Ohio River. Mercer represented Frederick County in the House of Burgesses from 1761-1765, but missed the 1763 and 1764 sessions in England as the agent for the Ohio Company.
Burned in effigy
Under the 1765 Stamp Act, Mercer was appointed stamp distributor for Virginia and Maryland. The hatred with which colonists regarded that legislation was transferred to Mercer himself, and Mercer was burned in effigy at Westmoreland County Courthouse.
Stamp Act testimony
In an attempt to control the mounting opposition to the Stamp Act, Mercer surrendered the stamps to a ship’s captain and returned to England where he testified before the House of Commons that the Stamp Act could not be enforced without troops. Undoubtedly, his testimony as an eyewitness to the colonists' reaction to the legislation helped influenced Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act.
Loyal servant to his last days
In later life, Mercer received various disbursements from the British government, including a pension that supported him first in Paris and later in London. Mercer, a loyal servant to the crown, died in London in 1784 while undergoing treatment for mental illness.