He served in Congress from 10 January 1777 through 1780, including his time as diplomat to the Netherlands, which resulted in his capture and Britain declaring war on the Netherlands. After negotiations, he was released from the Tower of London in exchange for Cornwallis.
While he made his fortune as one of the partners in Austin and Laurens -- the largest slave-trading house in North America -- he freed all of his slaves at the end of the war.
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