DeWitt Clinton

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DeWitt Clinton (March 2, 1769 – February 11, 1828) was an early American politician who served as United States Senator and the sixth Governor of New York. In this last capacity he was largely responsible for the construction of the Erie Canal.[1] Unlike his adversary Martin Van Buren, who invented machine politics, Clinton became the leader of New York's People’s Party. Clinton is an authentic but largely forgotten hero of American democracy, according to Daniel Walker Howe (2007). Howe explains, "The infrastructure he worked to create would transform American life, enhancing economic opportunity, political participation, and intellectual awareness."[2]


Early life and political career

DeWitt Clinton was the second son born to James Clinton and his wife Mary DeWitt (1737–1795, aunt of Simeon De Witt), and was educated at what is now Columbia University. He became the secretary to his uncle, George Clinton, who was then governor of New York. Soon after he became a member of the Democratic-Republican Party. He was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1798, and of the New York State Senate from the Southern District from 1798 to 1802, and from 1806 to 1811. He was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1801. He was a member of the Council of Appointments in 1801-1802 and 1806-1807.

He won the by-election for U.S. Senator from New York after the resignation of John Armstrong, Jr. and served from February 23, 1802, to November 4, 1803. He resigned, unhappy with living conditions in newly built Washington, DC, and was appointed Mayor of New York City. He served as Mayor in 1803-1807, 1808–1810, and 1811-1815. While serving as Mayor, he organized the Historical Society of New York in 1804 and was its president. He also helped re-organizing the American Academy of the Fine Arts in 1808 served as its president between 1813 and 1817. He was Regent of the University of New York from 1808 to 1825.

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