Philip Van Cortlandt – Continental Army Officer – New York


Philip Van Cortlandt (August 21, 1749 – November 21, 1831) was an American surveyor, landowner, and politician from Westchester County, New York. Van Cortlandt was the son of Pierre Van Cortlandt and brother of Pierre Van Cortlandt, Jr.


He was born in New York City on August 21, 1749, and was a member of one of New York’s most prominent families. His great-grandfather was Stephanus Van Cortlandt, the first native-born Mayor of New York City, and his family were the patroons of Van Cortlandt Manor.

Philip Van Cortlandt attended Coldenham Academy. In addition to exercising manorial rights while assisting in the management of the manor’s farming and manufacturing activities, Philip Van Cortlandt was a civil engineer, and became active in politics as a founding member of the New York Provincial Congress in 1775.

During the Revolutionary War, Colonel Cortlandt commanded the 2nd New York Regiment in the Continental Army. He fought at the Battle of Saratoga, was with the Army at Valley Forge, and took part in the Sullivan Expedition. In 1779 and 1780 he was a member of the court martial that charged Benedict Arnold for improper conduct while in command of Philadelphia. A majority of members, including Van Cortlandt, favored dismissing Arnold from the service, but they were overruled and Arnold received only a written reprimand. Van Cortlandt was commended for gallantry at the Siege of Yorktown, and mustered out of the service at the end of the war with the rank of Brigadier General.

In 1788 Van Cortlandt was a member of the state convention which ratified the United States Constitution. He served in the New York State Assembly from 1788 to 1790, and the New York State Senate from 1791 to 1793.

In 1792 Van Cortlandt was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democratic-Republican, and he served eight terms, 1793 to 1809.

In 1824 Van Cortlandt accompanied Lafayette on Lafayette’s 1824 Tour of the United States.

He died at Cortlandt Manor on November 21, 1831 and was buried in Hillside Cemetery, Cortlandt Manor, New York.