CLINTON, De Witt, American statesman: b. Little Britain, New Windsor, Orange County, N. Y., 2 March 1769; d. Albany, 11 Feb. 1828. His descent on the father's side was from Eng lish ancestors long domiciled in Ireland, and on the mother's side he was of French extrac tion. His education was begun in a grammar school near his home, continued at the academy in Kingston, Ulster County, and completed at Columbia College, where he bore away the col lege honors in 1786. He immediately engaged in the study of the law and was admitted to the bar in 1788. His ardent temper and earnest ambition carried him at once into the political field, and his sentiments, sympathies and affec tions determined his position under the banner of his kinsman, George Clinton, the chief within the State of the Republican party. While the question of the adoption of the Federal consti tution was yet a subject of popular discussion, he proved his zeal and controversial power by writing a series of letters signed "A Country man? in reply to the celebrated letters of the Federalist. He entered the legislature in 1797 and the State senate in 1798, soon becom ing the leader of his party in the State. In 1801 he became United States Senator, resigning in 1803 to assume the office of mayor of New York. He remained undisturbed in the mayor alty from 1803 until 1807, when he was re moved. He was reappointed in 1809, was dis placed in 1810, was restored in 1811 and thence forward continued therein until 1815. Within this period of nearl. 12 years, Clinton was also a member of the senate of the State from. 1805 until 1811, was lieutenant-governor from1811 to 1813, and during a portion of that time also held a seat in the council of appointment. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Presidency in 1812. He adopted early and supported ably and efficiently the policy of the construction of canals, from Lake Erie and Lake Champlain to the tide-water of the Hudson, and showed to his fellow citizens, with what seemed a spirit of prophecy, the benefits which would result from those works to the city, the State and the whole country, in regard to defense, to com merce, to increase of wealth and population and to the stability of the Union. In 1815 he
presented a memorial to the legislature in be half of the construction of the Erie Canal and in 1817 a bill was passed authorizing the work. In 1817 he was elected governor of New York and re-elected in 1820. He declined re-election in 1822, but was again elected in 1824, and after overcoming constant, unremitting and factious resistance, he had the felicity of being borne, in October 1825, in a barge on the artificial river which he seemed to all to have constructed from Lake Erie to the bay of New York, while bells were rung and cannons saluted him at every stage of that imposing progress. No soonernad that great work been undertaken in 1817 than the population of the State be gan to swell with augmentation from other States, and from abroad; prosperity became universal; the older towns and cities expanded, new ones rose and multiplied; agriculture, man ufactures and commerce were quickened in their movements, and wealth flowed in upon the State from all directions He was re-elected governor in 1826, dying while in office. He wrote 'Discourse before the New York His torical Society;) 'Memoir on the Antiquities of Western New York' ; 'Letters on the Natural History and Internal Resources of New York' ; 'Speeches to the Legislature.' Consult Alex ander, 'Political History of the State of New York) (Vol. I, New York 1906) ; Hosack, 'Memoir of De Witt Clinton> (1829) ; McBain, (De Witt Clinton and the Origin of the Spoils System in New York' (New York 1907) ; Orth, (Five American Politicians' (Cleveland 1906) ; Renwick, 'Life of De Witt Clinton' (1840) ; Campbell, 'Life of De Witt Clinton' (1849).