He attended Dummer Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard College in 1755. Afterwards, he studied law and was admitted to the bar, but did not practice, instead pursuing a career as a merchant.
He later served as a delegate from Massachusetts to the convention of committees of New England provinces, which met in Providence, Rhode Island on December 25, 1776. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1783 and 1784, but did not attend. He served as a Massachusetts state senator from 1785 to 1788, and was appointed to the United States Senate in 1788.
He served from March 4, 1789 to March 4, 1791. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1790. He served as surveyor of the port of Boston from November 1814 until his death on May 30, 1817.
Tristram Dalton is the namesake of Dalton, Massachusetts, Dalton, New Hampshire and Dalton, Georgia.
[American Academy of Arts and Sciences]
He was a charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1780. Dalton served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1782 to 1785, and served as speaker in 1784.