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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

Descriptive Summary

Title: George Clinton Collection
Dates: 1739-1816
Abstract: This collection consists primarily of letters to and from George Clinton, one of the "Founding Fathers" of the United States and long-time Governor of New York.
Quantity: 0.417 Linear feet (1 box)
Call Phrase: MS.2965

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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.

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Scope and Contents Note

The George Clinton collection contains correspondence and official papers dating from 1769-1816. The bulk of the documents date from 1779-1780, and consist of letters to and from George Clinton to various military personnel , such as his brother Brigadier General James Clinton, Generals George Washington, Philip Schuyler, Horatio Gates, Edward Hand, and Robert Howe. The letter contents are mostly related to accounts, concerns of supplies, marching orders, and military reports on the status of the various battles in New York State, such as in Ulster County and West Point.

Other letters in this collection include personal correspondence to and from his wife Cornelia Tappan, as well as other family members like his brother Dr. Charles Clinton, his daughter Elizabeth Tallmadge (neé Clinton), and his son-in-law Mathias B. Tallmadge. There are also several letters to and from friends of Clinton.

The rest of the letters in the collection are to and from various members of the New York State Legislature and the United States Congress. These letters relate to official state and federal government business, such as matters related to property, taxation and the law. There are also official documents in the collection, such as deeds and commissions, some of which relate to Clinton’s tenure as Governor of New York (1777-1795, 1801-1804) and Vice President of the United States (1805-1812).

The collection also contains some papers of the Council of Revision, which was a body responsible for revising all new legislation made by the New York State Legislature. The collection also includes personal documents related to Clinton, such as an inventory of his estate, and records of accounts with the State of New York.

Notable items in this collection include letters from Clinton to George Washington regarding the Benedict Arnold's treason; Clinton’s letters to his subordinates regarding marching and other military orders during the American Revolution.


Items in this collection are arranged chronologically.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers

Portions of the collection that have been microfilmed will be brought to the researcher in that format and can be made available by Interlibrary loan. Researchers on site may print out unlimited copies from microfilm reader-printer machines at per-exposure rates. See guidelines in Reading Room for details. Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use Restrictions

This collection is owned by the New-York Historical Society. The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the George Clinton collection, MS 2965, The New-Historical Society.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 George Clinton correpsondence
Box: 1 Folder : 2 George Clinton correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 3 George Clinton correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 4 George Clinton correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 5 George Clinton correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 6 George Clinton correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Geroge Clinton correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 8 George Clinton correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 9 George Clinton correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 10 George Clinton correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 11 George Clinton Papers of Council of Revision
Box: 1 Folder : 12 George Clinton Accounts with the State of NY
Box: 1 Folder : 13 George Clinton Inventory/Surveys of Estate
Box: 1 Folder : 14 George Clinton deeds, receipts, commissions

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