Benjamin Swan (Vermont politician)

Benjamin Swan (November 12, 1762 – April 11, 1839) was an American merchant, banker and politician. He was an important political figure in Vermont and served as State Treasurer.

Benjamin Swan
Vermont State Treasurer
In office
Preceded bySamuel Mattocks
Succeeded byAugustine Clarke
Personal details
Born(1762-11-12)November 12, 1762
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedAugust 11, 1839(1839-08-11) (aged 76)
Woodstock, Vermont, U.S.
Resting placeRiver Street Cemetery
Woodstock, Vermont
Spouse(s)Lucy Gay Swan
RelationsJohn Webster
Timothy Swan
Lewis R. Morris
Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt
ChildrenBenjamin Swan
William Swan
Lucy Swan
William Swan
Eleanor Swan
Mary Swan
ParentsWilliam Swan
Lavina (Keyes) Swan
ResidenceWoodstock, Vermont

Early lifeEdit

Swan was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on November 12, 1762,[1] the son of William Swan and Lavina (Keyes) Swan.[2] He trained as a merchant in Worcester, Boston, and Montreal before moving to Woodstock, Vermont in 1791.[3]

Business careerEdit

Swan continued his mercantile career and was also successful as a banker, including serving on the board of directors of the Vermont State Bank.[4][5] He was also an owner or partner in several ventures, including a pearl ash factory.[6][7]

Political careerEdit

A Federalist,[8] Swan served in local offices including Postmaster.[9] He served as Justice of the Peace when holders of that office still heard court cases.[10][11] He was also active in the militia, and achieved the rank of Major.[12]

In 1796 Swan was appointed County Clerk, an office in which he served until his death.[13] Swan was elected Vermont State Treasurer in 1800. He served until 1833, and is the state's longest-tenured Treasurer.[14]

After years of running virtually unopposed, even after the demise of the Federalist Party, in 1833 Swan narrowly lost his bid for reelection to Augustine Clarke, 19,661 (50.8%) to 19,056 (49.2%). Swan was a Mason, and Clarke was the candidate of the Anti-Masonic Party, so his win demonstrated the strength of that third party movement.[15]

Death and burialEdit

Swan died in Woodstock on April 11, 1839.[16] He is buried at River Street Cemetery in Woodstock.[17]


The Major Benjamin Swan home at 37 Elm St. in Woodstock was constructed in the mid 1790s. It is a local landmark, and is a privately owned residence.[18]


In 1804 Swan married Lucy Gay. Their children included: Benjamin (1805-1852); William (1807-1811); Lucy (1810-1892); William (died 1816); Eleanor (died 1817); and Mary (1813-1867).[19]

Swan's brother Timothy Swan was an eccentric composer and poet who lived at Suffield, Connecticut.[20] Swan's sister Lavina married Vermont Lieutenant Governor Jonathan Hunt of the prominent Hunt family of Vermont.[21] Swan's nephew was U.S. Congressman Jonathan Hunt.[22]


  1. ^ Clarence Winthrop Bowen, The History of Woodstock, Connecticut, Volume 5, 1933, page E-315
  2. ^ Cutter, William Richard and Adams, William Frederick (1910). Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts, Volume 4. Lewis historical publishing Company. p. 2325.
  3. ^ Henry Swan Dana, History of Woodstock, Vermont, 1889, pages 485-486
  4. ^ Henry Swan Dana, History of Woodstock, Vermont, 1889, page 487
  5. ^ Vermont General Assembly, Journal of the General Assembly of the State of Vermont, 1830, page 151
  6. ^ Henry Swan Dana, History of Woodstock, Vermont, 1889, page 320
  7. ^ David Lowenthal, George Perkins Marsh, Volume 1, 1953, page 20
  8. ^ Marcus Davis Gilman, The Bibliography of Vermont, 1897, page 214
  9. ^ Vermont Historical Society, News and Notes, Volumes 11-15, 1959, page 36
  10. ^ Vermont General Assembly, Journal of the Vermont General Assembly, 1829, page 153
  11. ^ Vermont Supreme Court, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of the State of Vermont, 1821, page 148
  12. ^ Henry Swan Dana, History of Woodstock, Vermont, 1889, page 486
  13. ^ Lewis Cass Aldrich, Frank R. Holmes, History of Windsor County, Vermont, 1891, page 99
  14. ^ E. P. Walton, Records of the Governor and Council of the State of Vermont, Volume IV, 1876, page 531
  15. ^ Vermont Secretary of State, Vermont Legislative Directory and State Manual, 1989, page 288
  16. ^ David H. Williams (Boston), The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge, for the Year 1840, 1839, page 319
  17. ^ Clarence Winthrop Bowen, The History of Woodstock, Connecticut, Volume 5, 1933, page E-315
  18. ^ AOL Real Estate, Town of Woodstock Real Estate, Search of 37 Elm St., retrieved December 31, 2013
  19. ^ Henry Swan Dana, History of Woodstock, Vermont, 1889, page 487
  20. ^ The History of the Descendants of John Dwight, of Dedham, Massachusetts, Vol. II, Benjamin Woodbridge Dwight, John F. Trow & Son, New York, 1874
  21. ^ Cabot, Mary Rogers (1921). Annals of Brattleboro, 1681-1895, Volume 1. Press of E. L. Hildreth & Company. p. 289.
  22. ^ "Jonathan Hunt". Litchfield Historical Society. Retrieved May 15, 2014.

Political offices
Preceded by
Vermont State Treasurer
Succeeded by