From a slow start, Ellsworth built up a prosperous law practice. In 1777, he became Connecticut's state attorney for Hartford County. That same year, he was chosen as one of Connecticut's representatives in the Continental Congress. He served on various committees until 1783, including the Marine Committee, the Board of Treasury, and the Committee of Appeals. Ellsworth was also active in his state's efforts during the Revolution, having served as a member of the Committee of the Pay Table that supervised Connecticut's war expenditures. In 1777 he joined the Committee of Appeals, which can be described as a forerunner of the Federal Supreme Court. While serving on it, he participated in the Olmstead case that first brought state and federal authority into conflict. In 1779, he assumed greater duties as a member of the Council of Safety, which, with the governor, controlled all military measures for the state. His first judicial service was on the Supreme Court of Errors when it was established in 1785, but he soon shifted to the Connecticut Superior Court and spent four years on its bench.
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