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George Clinton - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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Birth: July 26, 1739
Death: April 20, 1812 (age 72)
Colony: New York
Occupation: Soldier, Lawyer, Politician
Significance: Served as Governor of New York (1777-1795, 1801-1804); served as Vice President of the United States under President Thomas Jefferson (1805-1809); and served as Vice President of the United States under President James Madison (1809-1812)

George Clinton

George Clinton was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in New York to recent immigrants from Ireland, Clinton's parents came to America searching for religious freedom. Clinton was privately tutored before ending his studies to serve in the French and Indian War. Clinton served as Lieutenant during the French and Indian War and participated in numerous battles. After the French and Indian War, Clinton studied law and passed the Bar in 1764. In 1765, Clinton was named a District Attorney in New York, and then in 1768, for the first time, Clinton was elected to the New York General Assembly.

Although he fought for England during the French and Indian War, Clinton supported the American Colonies during the American Revolutionary War, and once again, Clinton served. Clinton joined the New York Militia and was named a Brigadier General. 

Clinton was elected and served in the Second Continental Congress in 1776, but he never signed The Declaration of Independence since he was away from Philadelphia at the time of its signing due his military obligations. In 1777, Clinton was named a Brigadier General in the Continental Army and continued to serve even after he was elected the Governor of New York in June 1777. Clinton continued to command forces until the Continental Army disbanded after the Revolutionary War. Clinton also served five terms as Governor of New York during the Revolution.

After the Revolution, Clinton was among those dissatisfied with the Constitution of the United States and he fought against its ratification. Clinton ran for Vice President in 1792, but he narrowly lost to John Adams. In 1800, Clinton was elected to the New York State Legislature and then in 1801, Clinton was once again elected the Governor of New York and served another three years until 1804. For over two centuries, Clinton's combined 21 years as Governor of New York made him the longest tenured Governor in the history of the United States.

In the Presidential Election of 1804, Thomas Jefferson replaced Aaron Burr with Clinton as his Vice Presidential Candidate. This time Clinton won and served as Vice President during Jefferson's second term. Clinton also served as Vice President under James Madison in the following election, becoming the first Vice President to serve under two Presidents. Clinton also became the first VP to die in office when he passed away in 1812.

George Clinton in Philadelphia

Clinton arrived in Philadelphia in 1776 as a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress. While serving as a member of the Second Continental Congress, Clinton worked at Independence Hall, though he departed before signing The Declaration of Independence due to his military service obligations.

Today Independence Hall is visited on The Constitutional Walking Tour!


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