George Clinton – Continental Army Officer – New York


George Clinton ({OldStyleDate|July 26|1739|July 15}{spaced ndash}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==

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 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==

In 1759, he was appointed County Clerk for Ulster County, New York, a position he held for the next 52 years. He was a member of the New York Provincial Assembly for Ulster County from 1768-76.

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. 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==

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

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


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. In 1787 Clinton was depicted on an unauthorized copper coin minted privately in New York with “EXCELSIOR” on reverse.

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.