George Clinton (vice president)

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George Clinton
George Clinton by Ezra Ames (full portrait).jpg
4th Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1805 – April 20, 1812
PresidentThomas Jefferson
James Madison
Preceded byAaron Burr
Succeeded byElbridge Gerry
1st & 3rd Governor of New York
In office
July 1, 1801 – June 30, 1804
LieutenantJeremiah Van Rensselaer
Preceded byJohn Jay
Succeeded byMorgan Lewis
In office
July 30, 1777 – June 30, 1795
LieutenantPierre Van Cortlandt
Succeeded byJohn Jay
Personal details
Born(1739-07-26)July 26, 1739
Little Britain, Province of New York
DiedApril 20, 1812(1812-04-20) (aged 72)
Washington, D.C.
NationalityAmerican
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Spouse(s)Sarah Cornelia Tappen (1741-1804)
ChildrenCatharine Clinton
Cornelia Tappen Clinton
George Washington Clinton
Elizabeth Clinton
Martha Washington Clinton
Maria Clinton
ReligionPresbyterian
SignatureCursive signature in ink
Military service
Service/branchBritish Army
Continental Army
RankLieutenant (UK)
Brigadier General (USA)
Battles/warsFrench and Indian War
American Revolutionary War
 
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George Clinton
George Clinton by Ezra Ames (full portrait).jpg
4th Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1805 – April 20, 1812
PresidentThomas Jefferson
James Madison
Preceded byAaron Burr
Succeeded byElbridge Gerry
1st & 3rd Governor of New York
In office
July 1, 1801 – June 30, 1804
LieutenantJeremiah Van Rensselaer
Preceded byJohn Jay
Succeeded byMorgan Lewis
In office
July 30, 1777 – June 30, 1795
LieutenantPierre Van Cortlandt
Succeeded byJohn Jay
Personal details
Born(1739-07-26)July 26, 1739
Little Britain, Province of New York
DiedApril 20, 1812(1812-04-20) (aged 72)
Washington, D.C.
NationalityAmerican
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Spouse(s)Sarah Cornelia Tappen (1741-1804)
ChildrenCatharine Clinton
Cornelia Tappen Clinton
George Washington Clinton
Elizabeth Clinton
Martha Washington Clinton
Maria Clinton
ReligionPresbyterian
SignatureCursive signature in ink
Military service
Service/branchBritish Army
Continental Army
RankLieutenant (UK)
Brigadier General (USA)
Battles/warsFrench and Indian War
American Revolutionary War

George Clinton (July 26 [O.S. July 15] 1739 – April 20, 1812) was an American soldier and statesman, considered one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He served as Governor of New York from 1777 to 1795, then again from 1801 to 1804, then serving as the fourth Vice President of the United States from 1805 to 1812, serving under Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He is the longest-serving governor in the history of the United States (at a total of 21 years and six terms in office), and he and John C. Calhoun are the only persons to have served as Vice President under two different U.S. Presidents.

Early life and participation in the Revolution[edit]

His political interests were inspired by his father, Charles Clinton, an Anglo-Irish colonist of Little Britain, New York and a member of the New York colonial assembly. George Clinton was the brother of General James Clinton and the uncle of New York's future governor, DeWitt Clinton.

At 18, he enlisted in the British Army to fight in the French and Indian War, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant. He subsequently studied law, became clerk of the court of common pleas and served in the colonial assembly.

He was known for his hatred of Tories[1] and used the seizure and sale of Tory estates to help keep taxes down. A supporter and friend of George Washington, he supplied food to the troops at Valley Forge, rode with Washington to the first Inauguration and gave an impressive dinner to celebrate it.

Political career[edit]

Clinton's pew in St. Paul's Chapel in New York City.
Gubernatorial portrait of George Clinton.

In 1759, he was appointed County Clerk for Ulster County, New York, a position he held for the next 52 years.[2] He was a member of the New York Provincial Assembly for Ulster County from 1768 to 1776.

On March 25, 1777, he was commissioned a brigadier general in the Continental Army. Shortly after, on April 20, 1777, he was elected Governor of New York in 1777, and was re-elected five times, serving until 1795. Although he had been elected governor, he retained his commission in the Continental Army and commanded forces at Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery on October 6, 1777. He remained in the Continental Army until it was disbanded on November 3, 1783.

In 1783, Clinton became an original member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati and served as its president from 1794 to 1795.

In 1783, at Dobbs Ferry, Clinton and Washington negotiated with General Sir Guy Carleton for the evacuation of the British troops from their remaining posts in the United States. In 1787–88, Clinton publicly opposed adoption of the new United States Constitution. 20th century historian Herbert Storing identifies Clinton as "Cato", the pseudonymous author of the Anti-Federalist essays which appeared in New York newspapers during the ratification debates. However, the authorship of the essays is disputed. Clinton withdrew his objections after the Bill of Rights was added.

In 1792, he was chosen by the nascent Jeffersonian "Republican" party as their candidate for Vice President. While the Republicans joined in the general acclamation of Washington for a second term as President, they objected to the allegedly "monarchical" attitude of Vice President John Adams. Clinton was nominated rather than Thomas Jefferson because the Virginia electors could not vote for Washington and for a second Virginian. Clinton received 50 electoral votes to 77 for Adams. His candidacy was damaged by his anti-Federalist record and by his narrow and disputed re-election as governor in 1792. (He won by only 108 votes, and the substantial anti-Clinton vote of Otsego County was excluded on a technicality.)

He did not run for re-election as governor in 1795. He held no political office until he was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1800 and 1801. In 1801, he was again elected governor, serving until 1804. With 21 years of service, he was the longest-serving governor of a U.S. state.[3] He was selected as President Jefferson's running mate in the 1804 Presidential election, replacing Aaron Burr. He served as the fourth Vice President of the United States, first under Jefferson, from 1805 to 1809, and then under President James Madison from 1809 until his death of a heart attack in 1812. He was the first Vice President to die in office as well as the first Vice President to die overall.

Clinton was the first of two Vice Presidents to serve in the position under two different Presidents. (John C. Calhoun was the other.) He is of no known relation to the 42nd President, Bill Clinton, who was born William Jefferson Blythe III but took the surname of his stepfather.

Clinton was an unwilling candidate for President in the 1808 election, receiving six electoral votes from a wing of the Democratic-Republican Party that disapproved of James Madison. He came in third after Madison and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of the Federalist Party.

His original burial was in Washington, D.C. He was re-interred in Kingston, New York in 1908.

Marriage and children[edit]

On February 7, 1770, Clinton married Sarah Cornelia Tappen (d. 1800); they had five daughters and one son:

  1. Catharine Clinton (November 5, 1770 – January 10, 1811); married firstly, to John Taylor, and secondly Pierre Van Cortlandt, Jr.
  2. Cornelia Tappen Clinton (June 29, 1774 – March 28, 1810); married Edmond-Charles Genet
  3. George Washington Clinton (October 18, 1778 – March 27, 1813); married Anna Floyd, daughter of William Floyd
  4. Elizabeth Clinton (July 10, 1780 – April 8, 1825); married Matthias B. Tallmadge
  5. Martha Washington Clinton (October 12, 1783 – February 20, 1795)
  6. Maria Clinton (October 6, 1785 – April 17, 1829); married Dr. Stephen D. Beekman, a grandson of Pierre Van Cortlandt

Legacy[edit]

The grave monument of George Clinton in Kingston, New York

Clinton County, New York, Clinton County, Missouri, Clinton County, Ohio, and the village of Clinton, Oneida County, New York (site of Hamilton College) are all named for him. In Washington, D.C. there is a gilded equestrian sculpture of him on Connecticut Avenue.

In 1873, the state of New York donated a bronze statue of Clinton to the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection.[4] In 1787 Clinton was depicted on an unauthorized copper coin minted privately in New York with "EXCELSIOR" on reverse.[5]

He was depicted in John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence even though he neither signed it nor was present when it was signed. In 1976 the painting appeared on the reverse of the two dollar bill and printed again in series 1995 and 2003.

In 2000, the State of New York ceremonially renamed the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge in honor of Clinton.[6]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "George Clinton | Architect of the Capitol". Aoc.gov. Retrieved 2013-02-27. 
  2. ^ "A Revolutionary Day". Revolutionaryday.com. 1908-05-30. Retrieved 2013-02-27. 
  3. ^ CQ Guide to U.S. Elections
  4. ^ "Clinton genealogy site". Rootsweb.com. Retrieved 2013-02-27. 
  5. ^ "Copper coin: George Clinton Copper - 1787". 2020site.org. Retrieved 2013-02-27. 
  6. ^ "The George Clinton Bridge"; accessed 2010-09-13

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Aaron Burr
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1805 – April 20, 1812
Succeeded by
Elbridge Gerry
Preceded by
John Jay
Governor of New York
1801–1804
Succeeded by
Morgan Lewis
Preceded by
Governor of the Province of New York
Governor of New York
1777–1795
Succeeded by
John Jay
Party political offices
Preceded by
Aaron Burr(1)
Democratic-Republican vice presidential nominee
1804, 1808
Succeeded by
Elbridge Gerry
Preceded by
New position
Democratic-Republican vice presidential nominee(1)
1792
Succeeded by
Aaron Burr(1)
Academic offices
Preceded by
Benjamin Moore
Chancellor of Columbia College
1784–1787
Succeeded by
William Samuel Johnson
Notes and references
1. Prior to the passage of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, each presidential elector would cast two votes; the highest vote-getter with a majority would become President and the runner-up would become Vice President. In 1792, with George Washington as the prohibitive favorite to be elected President, the Democratic-Republican Party fielded Clinton with the intention that he be elected Vice President. Similarly, in both 1796 and 1800, the Democratic-Republican Party fielded both Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson, with the intention that Jefferson be elected President and Burr be elected Vice President.