Brief Sketches Of Selected NYS Men

Peter Stuyvesant, the last and most celebrated of the Dutch governors of New York, began his administration in 1647. He exerted all his energies to prevent the encroachments of the English and the Swedes on the territory under his command. In 1655, he obliged the Swedes at New Castle, Delaware Bay, to swear allegiance to the Dutch authority. But in 1664, Col. Nichols, with an English fleet, arrived at New York, then called New Amsterdam, and compelled Gov. Stuyvesant and the whole colony to surrender to their invaders. He, however, remained in the country until his death. He was buried within the walls of the second built Reformed Dutch Church, now occupied by St. Mark's Church, which has on its outside wall the original stone designating the place of his interment, with his rank and titles, thus:

In this vault lies buried Petrus Stuyvesant, late captain-general and commander-in-chief of Amsterdam, in Now Netherland, now called New York and the Dutch West India Islands. Died in August, A. D. 1682, aged eighty years.

Sir William Johnson was born in Ireland about the year 1714. He was the nephew of Sir Peter Warren, the naval commander who distinguished himself at the siege of Louisburg. Sir Peter sent young Johnson to superintend his large estate which he had on the Mohawk. To fulfill the duties of his commission, Johnson learned the language of the Indians and cultivated their acquaintance. His situation at Johnstown, between Albany and Oswego, gave him great opportunities for trade. By a course of sagacious measures, he obtained an influence over the Indians greater than was held by any other white man of his time. In 1755, he commanded the Provincial troops of New York, marched against Crown Point and gained a victory over the French under Baron Dieskau, for which he received from the House of Commons 5,000 sterling, and the title of baronet from the king. Sir William died suddenly at Johnson Hall, 44 miles west of Albany, July 11, 1774, aged 60 years.

Col. Joseph Brandt, the celebrated Mohawk chieftain, resided at Canajoharie Castle, the central of the three castles of the Mohawks, in their native country. He is supposed to have been born about the year 1742, on the banks of the Ohio, while his parents were on a hunting expedition in that part of the country. In 1761, he was sent by Sir Wm. Johnson to Dartmouth College, then under the charge of the Rev. Dr. Wheelock. He translated into the Mohawk language the Gospel of St. Mark, and assisted the Rev. Mr. Stewart, the Episcopal missionary, in translating a number of religious works into the Indian tongue. Brandt being a neighbor and under the influence of the Johnson family, took up arms against the Americans in the revolutionary contest. After the war, he removed with his nation to Canada. He died, upward of thirty years since, in Brantford, Upper Canada.

George Clinton, son of Col. Charles Clinton, was born in Orange county, N. Y., July 15, 1739. At an early age he was distinguished for his activity and enterprise. In 1775, he was appointed a delegate to the continental congress, and was present at and in favor of the Declaration of Independence, but having been appointed a brigadier-general in the army, was obliged to leave congress immediately after his vote was given, in consequence of which his name does not appear among the signers. In 1777, he was elected the first governor under the new constitution, and continued in that office for eighteen years. In 1804, he was vice-president of the United States, and died in that station at Washington, April 20, 1812.

Philip Livingston, a signer of the declaration of independence, was born at Albany, in 1716. He graduated at Yale College in 1737. He settled in New York, and devoted himself to mercantile pursuits. In 1775, the Royalists had gained such an ascendancy that several counties of New York took the responsibility of sending delegates to the continental congress, among whom were Philip Livingston and his nephew, Robert R. Livingston. Mr. Livingston was elected a member of the first senate of the state of New York. In 1778, he again took his seat in congress, though in a delicate state of health, occasioned by dropsy in the chest. He died suddenly, when absent from home, June 12, 1778.

Francis Lewis, a signer of the declaration of independence, was born in Wales, and was educated partly in Scotland and partly at Westminster. When of age, he came to New York, and commenced business as a merchant. For a time he held a military office in the French and Indian war. He was an active committee man in the continental congress until 1778. He suffered greatly for his adherence to the American cause. His property on Long Island was destroyed, his wife confined in a close prison for several months, which probably caused her death. Mr. Lewis died at the age of nearly 90 years.

Lewis Morris, a signer of the declaration of independence, was born at Morrisania, N. Y., in 1726, and was educated at Yale College. Being the eldest son, he inherited his father's manorial estate, which placed him in affluent circumstances. As a delegate to the continental congress, he voted for independence when that act seemed to be in opposition to all his worldly interests. After the war, he returned to his estate, which had been ravaged by the enemy, and spent the remainder of his life in agricultural pursuits. He died January, 1798, in the 72d year of his age.

William Floyd, a signer of the declaration of Independence, was born on Long Island, N. Y., in 1734. While attending to his public duties, he suffered greatly in the destruction of his property and the exile of his family from their home on account of the ravages of the enemy. In 1784, Gen. Floyd purchased some wild lands in the valley of the Mohawk, to which he removed in 1803. He died in August, in the year 1821, at the age of 87.

De Witt Clinton, son of James Clinton, a brigadier-general in the army of the revolution, was born in Orange county, N. Y., in 1769. He was chosen to many important offices in his native state, and was elected governor in 1817. His name, genius and his services are stamped upon many monuments of public munificence and utility, the most useful of which is the Erie Canal. He died suddenly in February, 1828.

John Jay, L. L. D., was born in the city of New York in 1745. He was a member of the first American congress in 1774, and was president of that body in 1776. He was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Spain. He was one of the commissioners to negotiate peace with Great Britain, and signed the definitive treaty of peace at Paris, September 3, 1783. He was appointed chief justice of the United States by Washington in 1789. In 1794 he was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain, and succeeded in negotiating the treaty which bears his name. He was governor of the state of New York from 1795 to 1801, when he retired to his farm in Bedford, N. Y., and died in 1829, aged 84.

Philip Schuyler was born in Albany in 1735. In 1785, he was appointed major-general in the United States army, and commander of the forces destined for the invasion of Canada. Ill health obliged him to relinquish the command to Montgomery. When Burgoyne's invasion began, he made great exertions to oppose his progress, when he was unjustly superseded in the chief command by Gates, but he subsequently rendered important services to his country. After the war, he was a member of congress, and twice a senator. He died in 1804, aged 73 years, leaving a reputation for superior mental powers, joined to great integrity, amiability and enterprise. His daughter married Alexander Hamilton.

Gouverneur Morris was born at Morrisiana, N. Y., in 1752, educated at King's (now Columbia) College, and began the practice of the law. In the revolution, he was one of the most active and esteemed members of Congress. He was a member, from Pennsylvania, of the convention which formed the federal constitution, and from 1792 to 1796 was U. S. minister to France. He afterward represented New York in the national senate. He died in 1816, aged 64 years. He was a fine orator and writer. A sketch of his life and selections from his papers was published by Jared Sparks.

Alexander Hamilton, the statesman, soldier and patriot, was born on the island of Nevis, West Indies, in 1757, having a Scotch father and a French mother. He was educated at King's College, where, in 1775, when only a boy of seventeen, he electrified patriot gatherings in New York by his oratory. Soon after he raised a company and entered the army as a captain of artillery. His extraordinary talents attracted the attention of Washington, who made him his aid-de-camp and confidential secretary, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was a member of the convention which framed the federal constitution, and, with James Madison and John Jay, wrote the series of articles in favor of that instrument, known as the Federalist, more than half the whole number being from his pen. As secretary of the U. S. treasury under Washington, his consummate skill as a financier was exhibited. In 1804, at the age of 47, he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.

Silas Wright was born in Amherst, Mass., in 1795, educated at Middlebury College, and in 1819 settled as a lawyer in Canton, St. Lawrence county. He first entered congress as member of the lower house, in 1827. From 1833 until 1847, when he was elected governor of New York, he was in the U. S. senate. Three years later he died. He was offered by President Tyler a seat upon the bench of the supreme court of the U. S., and by other presidents, seats in their cabinets and missions abroad, all of which he refused. He was a man of great strength of mind--in his disposition, socially as well as politically, a democrat. This endeared him to the masses, and had he lived, he would in all probability have been president of the country, for no man of his party was so universally popular.


Website: The History
Article Name: Brief Sketches Of Selected NYS Men
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Our whole country; or, The past and present of the United States, historical and descriptive. In two volumes By John Warner Barber ... and Henry Howe ...Cincinnati, H. Howe, 1861.
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