George W. Clinton
Hon. George William Clinton (April 21, 1807 – September 7, 1885) was a New York lawyer, politician, judge, author, and amateur naturalist. He served as Mayor of Buffalo, New York from 1842 to 1843.
Hon. George William Clinton
Portrait of George W. Clinton
|7th United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York|
|Appointed by||James K. Polk|
|Preceded by||William F. Allen|
|Succeeded by||James R. Lawrence|
|12th Mayor of Buffalo|
March 8, 1842 – March 14, 1843
|Preceded by||Isaac R. Harrington|
|Succeeded by||Joseph G. Masten|
|Born||April 21, 1807|
New York City
|Died||September 7, 1885 (aged 78)|
Menands, New York
|Spouse(s)||Laura Catherine Spencer|
|Residence||Buffalo, New York|
|Education||The Albany Academy|
|Alma mater||Hamilton College (1825)|
Norwich University (1827)
Litchfield Law School (1828)
Early life and familyEdit
Clinton was born on April 21, 1807 in New York City to Maria Franklin (1775-1818) and DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), while the latter was serving as Mayor of New York City. His father later became a U.S. Senator and the 6th Governor of New York. He was the grandson of Major-General James Clinton (1736-1812), grandnephew of George Clinton (1739-1812), the 4th U.S. Vice President, nephew of George Clinton, Jr. (1771-1809), a U.S. Representative, and James G. Clinton (1804-1849), also a member of the House of Representatives.
Clinton grew up in Albany, New York, and attended The Albany Academy. He graduated from Hamilton College in 1825 and Norwich University in 1827, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1828, he attended the Litchfield Law School, completed his legal studies with Judge Ambrose Spencer (1765-1848), and was admitted to the bar in 1831.
Clinton initially practiced law in Albany with Matthew Henry Webster and then in 1832 formed a partnership with the son of his legal mentor, John Canfield Spencer (1788-1855), who eventually became the 17th United States Secretary of War and 16th United States Secretary of the Treasury in Canandaigua, New York. He served as the District Attorney of Ontario County from 1835 to 1836.
In 1836, he moved to Buffalo and settled on the north side of East Mohawk Street between Washington and Ellicott Streets. The same year he organized the local Democratic Party with 20 or so other citizens.
On March 22, 1838, he was appointed Collector of Customs at Buffalo by U.S. President Martin Van Buren. Clinton served in this role until 1842. In March of that same year, Clinton was elected Mayor of Buffalo by a nearly unanimous vote. Although a Democrat, his election was unique in that he was not a party candidate. During his term the City Charter was revised. On March 14, 1843, he presided over his last council meeting.
Clinton was appointed as United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York under President James K. Polk, and served from 1847 to 1850. From 1854 to 1878 he was Judge of Buffalo's Superior Court. His legal writings included the three volume Digest of the Decisions of the Law and Equity Courts of the State of New York. In 1867, he was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention.
In 1882, he moved to Albany to become editor of the Clinton Papers, a collection left by his granduncle George Clinton. Clinton was one of the organizers of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, founded on December 5, 1861. He was chosen its first president, and served for 20 years in that role. He was an amateur naturalist, and published 1882's Catalogue of the Native and Naturalized Plants of the City of Buffalo and its Vicinity.
- De Witt Clinton (1833-1873)
- Charles Clinton
- Elizabeth Spencer Clinton (1835-1918), who married Henry L. Clinton (1820-1899), a prominent New York lawyer.
- Spencer Clinton (1839-1914), an attorney in Buffalo, who married Sarah Riley (1851-1880), daughter of William A. Riley and Frances A. Stillman, in 1870. After her death, he married her sister, Carrie Riley (1859-1887), and in 1895, he married a third time to Cora Caldwell (1870-1925).
- Catharine Clinton (1841-1881), who married Albert J. Wheeler (1841-1924), president of the Western Savings Bank and Wheeler-Monarch Elevator Company.
- Minnie Natalie Clinton, who married Abram H. Baldwin
- George Clinton (1846-1934), an attorney in Buffalo, married Alice Thornton (1847-1931), daughter of Thomas F. Thornton and Jane Parker.
He died on September 7, 1885 while walking through Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands. He was laid to rest in Forest Lawn Cemetery after a service at St. Paul's Cathedral, still clutching the clover he was holding when he died.
- Day, David F. (1885). George W. Clinton, LL.D. Vol. 12. Torrey Botanical Society. pp. 103–106. JSTOR 2476072.
- "STRICKEN IN A CEMETERY THE SUDDEN DEATH OF VICE CHANCELLOR CLINTON: STRUCK BY APOPLEXY WHILE ENGAGED INA BOTANICAL EXPEDITION — THE STORY OF A USEFUL LIFE". The New York Times. September 8, 1885. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- "DE WITT CLINTON. SKETCH OF THE FAMOUS GOVERNOR BY HIS SON. PAPER READ BEFORE THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF BUFFALO BY HON. GEORGE W. CLINTON GOV. CLINTON VINDICATED FROM ASPERSIONS RECENTLY CAST UPON HIS MEMORY THE GOVERNOR AS A STATESMAN, AS A MAN, AND AS A FATHER". The New York Times. April 10, 1875. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- "Litchfield Ledger - Student". www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org. Litchfield Historical Society. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- Litchfield Law School (1900). The Litchfield Law School, 1784-1833. Litchfield, CT: Litchfield Enquirer. p. 25.
- "The Buffalo Directory". Courier Company of Buffalo. Courier Company of Buffalo: 22. 1 January 1842. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- MEMORIAL AND FAMILY HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY NEW YORK, Volume I. 419-421 Lafayette Street: Winthrop Press. 1906–1908. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- Chester, Alden; Williams, Edwin Melvin (Aug 11, 2004). Courts and Lawyers of New York: A History, 1609-1925. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN 9781584774242. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- "DEATH OF HENRY L. CLINTON Lawyer Passes Away at His Home After a Long illness. IN MANY CELEBRATED CASES Once Received a Fee of Over $300,000 — His Success in Criminal and Civil Practice". The New York Times. June 8, 1899. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- "Obituary Notes". The New York Times. September 26, 1924. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- Foley, Janet Wethy. Early Settlers of New York State: Their Ancestors and Descendants, Volumes I-VI (PART I - i-iii). Heritage Books. ISBN 9780788437113. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- "JUDGE CLINTON'S FUNERAL". The New York Times. September 12, 1885. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- "HONORING JUDGE CLINTON'S MEMORY". The New York Times. September 11, 1885. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- "JUDGE CLINTON'S MEMORY HONORED". The New York Times. September 9, 1885. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- IPNI. Clinton.
- Through The Mayors' Eyes by Michael Rizzo (The Buffalonian, 2005, ISBN 978-1-4116-3757-3 ; pg. 424)
- George W. Clinton in Scientific Papers of Asa Gray: Essays; Biographical Sketches, 1841-1886
- Minutes of the Regents of the University, by New York State Education Department, 1860
- Report of the Regents of the University of the State of New York, Volume 66
- George W. Clinton at Norwich University, 1819-1911: Her History, Her Graduates, Her Roll of Honor, Volume 3, by William Arba Ellis
- George W. Clinton at Catalogue of the New-York Alpha of the Phi Beta Kappa, 1852
- An Address Commemorative of George W. Clinton: Delivered Before the Buffalo Historical Society, David Fisher Day, 1890
- Catalogue of the Native and Naturalized Plants of the City of Buffalo and its Vicinity, 1882
William F. Allen
| United States Attorney for
the Northern District of New York
James R. Lawrence
Isaac R. Harrington
| Mayor of Buffalo, NY
Joseph G. Masten