Profile of George Clinton, the First Governor of New York


George Clinton was born on July 26, 1739, and was considered amongst the founding fathers of America. He served America being a soldier and a political leader. 1777 saw Brigadier George Clinton being elected as the first governor of New York. He would go on to become the longest-serving governor before elected as the vice president of the United States in 1805. Today he is remembered as an individual who not only had a role to play in building the foundation of New York City but also as a hero who defended it during wartime.

Indian and French War Service

George Clinton, during the Indian and French war, served in the Caribbean to privateer Defiance. At the time, his father was a colonel in the provincial militia, which Mr. Clinton would later join after serving in the Caribbean. While Mr. Clinton served during the Indian and French war, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and helped his father during the Fort Frontenac seizure in 1758. He had a major role to play in cutting major supply and communication between Montreal’s eastern centers and Quebec City and Western territories of France. In addition to that, he, along with his brother James played a major role in capturing a French vessel as well.

Political Career

District Attorney

George Clinton’s father conducted a survey of New York’s frontier, which had extremely impressed the provincial governor. In return, his father was offered the position of New York City’s sheriff. The offer was declined, and the provincial governor chose George Clinton as the successor to the clerk of the Ulster County Court of Common Pleas. George Clinton would hold onto this position for the next 52 years.

Post-War Mr. Clinton shifted towards studying law and returned home, which was a part of Ulster County at the time and initiated his legal practice in 1764. The same year, he became a district attorney and became a member of the New York General Assembly for Ulster County from 1768 to 1776.

Wartime Governor

The New York Provincial Congress in December 1775 sought the services of George Clinton, as brigadier general in the militia. He was ordered to protect and defend the highlands of the Hudson River against the British. Mr. Clinton, to prevent the British forces from moving forward, built two forts, and formed a giant chain across the river. Then, on March 25, 1777, he was again ordered to perform in the Continental Army as a brigadier general. Following the same year, in June, he was elected as the governor and lieutenant governor of New York City. However, he chose to forgo the seat of lieutenant governor and assumed the governor’s office on July 30. Mr. Clinton would then be re-elected five times in the future and served until June 1975.

By this time, Mr. Clinton had become a governor and still served the command forces and continental army at Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton. The year 1783 saw the discontinuation of the Continental Army, and therefore, Mr. Clinton discontinued his services on November 3, 1783. Mr. Clinton was known for his hatred against Tories and even used the sale and seizure of Tory Estates to keep taxes down. In 1783, Mr. Clinton negotiated with a couple of other influential personalities to withdraw the remaining British troops in the United States. That very year, Mr. Clinton went on to become a member of the New York Society of Cincinnati and later performed as its President.

National Leader

Mr. Clinton in the early 1780s highlighted his support for Alexander Hamilton, who was asking for a stronger federal government. However, Mr. Clinton took a step back when Alexander Hamilton proposed the idea of imposing tariffs because Mr. Clinton feared that the imposition of tariffs would slice the main source of income of his home state. Furthermore, Mr. Clinton became one of the most popular opponents of the bill that was intended to give more rights and power to the federal government. He worked on introducing and passing amendments that were aimed to weaken the federal government.

From 1788 to 1789, the first presidential elections were held in the U.S, and Mr. Clinton was supported by many anti-federalists against John Adams. As a result, John Adams became the Vice President, and Mr. Clinton became the President. Then in 1792, Mr. Clinton again ran for the presidential elections, and this time was selected by the Democratic-Republic Party as their Vice President. In response, the republicans displayed their support for Washington as the second term president but opposed the monarchical attitude possessed by Vice President Adams. As the results came out, Clinton lost to Adams, partly due to his affiliation with anti-federalists and the disputed re-election in 1792. Mr. Clinton would then refuse to run in the elections of 1795 and become a member of the 24th New York State Legislature in April 1800. In addition to that, Mr. Clinton competed against Stephen Van Rensselaer, who was a Federalist Party nominee in the gubernatorial race in 1801 and served until 1804 as the governor. In total, Mr. Clinton served for 21 years and ultimately became the longest-serving governor of the United States.

Vice President

In the presidential elections of 1804, Mr. Clinton helped President Jefferson as Aaron Burr was replaced due to falling out with the administration of President Jefferson. President Jefferson preferred to consult Mr. Clinton over Aaron Burr, especially when it came to New York appointments. The same year, Mr. Clinton replaced Aaron Burr due to his popularity and long service.

Mr. Clinton then served twice under two different presidents, President Jefferson and President Madison, who unfortunately passed away due to a heart attack. President Jefferson did not wish to see Mr. Clinton above the vice-president stature and hence chose to ignore him. Mr. Clinton decided to challenge President Mason for the Presidential seat but lost. He continued to oppose the appointment of Albert Gallatin as the Secretary of State and participated in blocking the recharter of the First Bank of the United States.

Mr. Clinton became seriously ill shortly after serving as the Vice President. He became the first Vice President to die in office in addition to being one of the two Vice Presidents to have served under two different Presidents.

Final Word

George Clinton was admired for his service to the country, particularly New York. He was remembered as a fallen “soldier of the revolution.” It goes without saying that Mr. Clinton had enjoyed a successful political career and managed to remain relevant throughout. His ability to defend the nation and to lead it as a political leader at the same time earned him a well-deserved spot in history.

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