John Lansing Jr.

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John Ten Eyck Lansing Jr. (January 30, 1754 – vanished December 12, 1829) was an American lawyer and politician.[1][2]

John Lansing Jr.
John Lansing Jr. - Ezra Ames.png
Chancellor of New York
In office
Preceded byRobert R. Livingston
Succeeded byJames Kent
Mayor of Albany, New York
In office
Preceded byJohannes Jacobse Beeckman
Succeeded byAbraham Yates, Jr.
Personal details
John Ten Eyck Lansing Jr.

January 30, 1754
Albany, New York
DiedDecember 12, 1829(1829-12-12) (aged 75)
New York City, New York
Cornelia Ray
(m. 1781; his death 1829)
ParentsGerrit Jacob Lansing
Jannetje Waters
RelativesAbraham Lansing (brother)
Gerrit Lansing (nephew)
Robert Lansing (nephew)

Born and raised in Albany, New York, Lansing was trained as a lawyer, and was long involved in politics and government During the American Revolution he was military secretary to General Philip Schuyler. Lansing served in the New York State Assembly from 1781-1784, in 1786, and in 1789, and was Speaker in 1786 and 1789. He served as a member of the Congress of the Confederation in 1785. From 1786 to 1790, Lansing served as mayor of Albany. He was a delegate to the federal Constitutional Convention in 1787 but withdrew from the body in July because he opposed the proposed United States Constitution as infringing on state and individual rights. He was a delegate to the New York ratification convention in June 1788, but was unable to prevent the Constitution from being approved.

In 1790, Lansing was a member of the commission that settled the New York-Vermont boundary as part of Vermont's admission to the Union as the 14th state in 1791. He was a justice of the New York Supreme Court from 1790 to 1798, and chief justice from 1798 to 1801. He was Chancellor of New York from 1801 to 1814, and in 1817 he was a special commissioner to resolve New York City and New York County claims to land in Vermont. From 1817 until his death, Lansing was Regent of the University of the State of New York. He disappeared in December 1829, after leaving his New York City hotel room to mail a letter. No trace was ever found, and what happened to him is unknown.

Early lifeEdit

John Ten Eyck Lansing Jr. was born on January 30, 1754, in Albany, New York. He was the son of Gerrit Jacob Lansing (b. 1711) and Jannetje "Jane" (née Waters) Lansing (1728–1810).[3] His younger brother was Abraham Gerritse Lansing (1756–1834), New York State Treasurer who married Susanna Yates, the daughter of Abraham Yates.[3] Another brother, Sanders G. Lansing (1766–1850) married Catherine Ten Eyck (1769–1850), daughter of Abraham Ten Eyck (1744–1824) and Annatje (née Lansing) Ten Eyck (1746–1823).[4]

Through his brother Abraham, he was the uncle of Gerrit Yates Lansing (1783–1862), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives,[3] and Susan Yates Lansing (1804–1874), who was the second wife of Peter Gansevoort (1788–1876), son of Gen. Peter Gansevoort.[5] Through his brother Sanders, he was the uncle of Robert Lansing (1799–1878), a New York State Senator and the grandfather of U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing.[3]


Lansing studied law with Robert Yates in Albany, New York, and was admitted to practice in 1775.[6] From 1776 until 1777 during the Revolutionary War Lansing served as a military secretary to General Philip Schuyler.[7] Afterwards he was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1780 to 1784, in 1785-86, and 1788–89, being its Speaker during the latter two terms. He served New York as a member of the Confederation Congress in 1785.[8][9]

In 1786, he was appointed Mayor of Albany. He represented New York as one of three representatives at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. His intentions at the convention were to follow the wishes of the New York Legislature which had elected him to attend. He was authorized only to amend the existing Articles of Confederation. As the convention progressed, Lansing became disillusioned because he believed it was exceeding its instructions. Lansing believed the delegates had gathered together simply to amend the Articles of Confederation and was dismayed at the movement to write an entirely new constitution. His desire was to see the Articles strengthened giving it a source of revenue, the power to regulate commerce, and to enforce treaties. He joined other prominent Anti-Federalists that strongly opposed Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, and James Madison's notions of a strong centralized national government to replace the Articles.[7]

He, Luther Martin of Maryland, George Mason of Virginia, and Robert Yates also of New York strongly opposed the newly proposed United States Constitution because they thought it was fundamentally flawed and should be rejected because it infringed on the sovereignty of the independent States and did not do enough to guarantee individual liberty.[8] Both he and Robert Yates walked out after 6 weeks and explained their departure in a joint letter to New York Governor George Clinton.[7] Lansing and Yates never signed the constitution. At the New York Ratifying Convention that followed, he along with Melancton Smith took the lead in the debates as the leaders of the Anti-Federalist majority. Their attempts to prevent ratification ultimately failed by a narrow vote of 30 to 27.

Lansing was appointed a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court in 1790 and on 15 February 1798 he was elevated to the post Chief Justice.[8] In 1801, he also became the second Chancellor of New York, succeeding Robert R. Livingston. In 1814 he became a regent of the University of New York.[10]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1781, Lansing was married to Cornelia Ray (1757–1834), daughter of Robert Ray and Sarah (née Bogart) Ray of New York City.[7][11] Together, they were the parents of ten children, five of whom died young. Their children included:[7]

His widow died in January 1834 and is buried at Albany Rural Cemetery.[8]


On the evening of December 12, 1829, he left his Manhattan hotel to mail a letter at a dock in New York City, never to be seen again.[7] Lansing was 75 years old and was presumed drowned or perhaps murdered; his body was never recovered. His fate was a major mystery in New York State at the time, rivaled only by the disappearance of William Morgan, the anti-Mason writer, in 1826 in upstate New York. In the last century it has become less publicized since the disappearance of New York State Justice Joseph Force Crater in 1930.

Only one major clue to Lansing's disappearance has appeared since his death. In 1882 the memoirs of Thurlow Weed, former Whig and Republican political leader in New York State, were published by Weed's grandson T. W. Barnes. Weed wrote that Lansing was murdered by several prominent political and social figures who found he was in the way of their projects.[1] According to Weed, his unnamed source showed him papers to prove it, but begged Weed not to publish them until all the individuals had died. Weed said they were all dead by 1870, but he did not wish to harm their respected family reputations, so upon advice of two friends he decided not to reveal what he had been told.


The town of Lansing in New York was named after John Lansing. Lansing, Michigan, was named by settlers who came from Lansing, New York.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "John Lansing, Jr. Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, 1790-1798 Chief Justice, 1798-1801". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  2. ^ "LANSING, John, Jr. - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Munsell, Claude Garfield (1916). The Lansing Family. A Genealogy of the Descendants of Gerritt Frederickse Lansing Who Came to America From Hasselt, Province of Overijssell, Holland, 1640. Eight Generations. New York: Privare print. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  4. ^ Bielinski, Stefan. "Gerrit Yates Lansing". New York State Museum. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  5. ^ "OBITUARY.; MR. JAMES F. PENNIMAN. PETER GANSEVOORT. OBITUARY NOTE" (PDF). The New York Times. January 8, 1876. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  6. ^ "John Lansing Jr. Manuscripts Collection". Finding aid to the Lansing collection at the New York State Library. New York State Library. Retrieved 9 December 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "America's Founding Documents". National Archives. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e Talcott, Sebastian V. (October 1, 2001). Genealogical Notes Of New York And New England Families. Heritage Books. pp. 146–147. ISBN 9780788419560. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Lansing, John". Columbia University Press. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  10. ^ Bielinski, Stefan. "John Lansing, Jr". New York State Museum. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  11. ^ Sullivan, Robert G.; Reynolds, Cuyler (1911). Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs: Lansing, Vol. I, pp. 72-74. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  12. ^ Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York (1905). The Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York: History, Customs, Record of Events, Constitution, Certain Genealogies, and Other Matters of Interest. V. 1-. The Society. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  13. ^ Times, Special To The New York (5 August 1935). "NOTES OF 1787 CITE STATES' RIGHT FEAR; Records Just Brought to Light at Princeton Show Trends at Constitutional Parley". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  14. ^ "John Lansing, Jr". New Netherland Institute. Retrieved 28 August 2017.


Political offices
Preceded by
David Gelston
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
Richard Varick
Preceded by
Richard Varick
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
Gulian Verplanck
Legal offices
Preceded by
Robert R. Livingston
Chancellor of New York
Succeeded by
James Kent