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Guide to the George Clinton Collection

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Francis Gestosani

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 20, 2015
Description is in English

Biographical/Historical Note

George Clinton (1739-1812) is often referred to as one of the Founding Fathers of United States for his role in winning the American Revolution. After the Revolution, he became the first governor of New York State, serving a total of 21 years in that office, the longest in the state's history. He also served as vice president during the terms of Jefferson and Madison. Clinton was born on July 26, 1739 in Little Britain, New York. At 18, he enlisted as a Lieutenant in the British Army in the French and Indian War. Subsequently, he studied law and served as clerk of the Court of Common Pleas.

In 1764, Clinton was elected to the New York Assembly, where he allied himself with the Livingstons: first politically, and later through the marriage of Cornelia Tappan, a Livingston relative.The Livingstons were wealthy and influential Presbyterian landowners who strongly opposed the British. Clinton became the leader of their anti-British group after defending a member of the Sons of Liberty who was imprisoned for "seditious libel." In 1775, he served as a delegate for the Second Continental Congress and found that he did not like the legislative service. He soon resigned from his seat to accept an appointment as brigadier general of the New York Militia.

Clinton was known for hatred of the Tories, and became popular with the farmers of the western counties who helped him to be elected the first governor of New York in 1777. He served as governor until 1795, and again from 1801-1804. An Anti-Federalist, Clinton unsuccessfully opposed New York's ratification of the new constitution. He was vice-president to Jefferson and Madison, dying on April 20, 1812 before the expiration of his second term.