Daniel D. Tompkins

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Daniel D. Tompkins
DTompkins.png
6th Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
President James Monroe
Preceded by Elbridge Gerry
Succeeded by John C. Calhoun
4th Governor of New York
In office
July 1, 1807 – February 24, 1817
Lieutenant John Broome
DeWitt Clinton
John Tayler
Preceded by Morgan Lewis
Succeeded by John Tayler
as Acting Governor
Personal details
Born (1774-06-21)June 21, 1774
Scarsdale, Province of New York
Died June 11, 1825(1825-06-11) (aged 50)
Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York
Nationality American
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Hannah Minthorne Tompkins
Alma mater Columbia College
Religion Presbyterian
Signature Cursive signature in ink

Daniel D. Tompkins (June 21, 1774 – June 11, 1825) was the fourth Governor of New York (1807–1817), and the sixth Vice President of the United States (1817–1825).

A jurist by background, he was notable as one of the most enterprising governors in the War of 1812. To help organize the state militia, he often invested his own capital when the legislature would not approve the necessary funds. After the war, he failed to recover these massive loans, despite endless litigation, which took a toll on his health, and induced the alcoholism that affected his performance as Vice President.

Name[edit]

Tompkins was baptized Daniel Tompkins, but added the middle initial "D." while a student at Columbia College to distinguish himself from another Daniel Tompkins there. There is controversy as to what the middle initial stood for; some have suggested "Decius."[citation needed]

Early life, family, and career[edit]

The Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial in Scarsdale, New York

Tompkins was born in Scarsdale, Westchester County, New York at his home, the estate of Fox Meadow.[1] He graduated from Columbia College in New York City in 1795. Tompkins studied law and in 1797 was admitted to the bar, practicing in New York City. He was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1801, a member of the New York State Assembly in 1804, and was elected to the 9th United States Congress, but resigned before the beginning of the term to accept, at age 30, an appointment as associate justice of the New York Supreme Court, in which capacity he served from 1804 to 1807. His brother, Caleb Tompkins (1759–1846), was a United States Representative from New York from 1817 to 1821.

On February 20, 1798, Daniel Tompkins, a 23-year-old lawyer of the City married 16 year old Hannah Minthorne.[2][3] At the time of the marriage, her father Mangle Minthorne was Assistant Alderman on the Common Council, and young Tompkins had designs on a political career. Hannah was ill in the year before her husband became Vice-President, and did not attend his inauguration.[4] From 1800 to 1814, the couple had eight children, including Arietta Minthorn Tompkins (born July 31, 1800), who married a son of Smith Thompson in 1818, and (Mangle) Minthorne Tompkins (December 26, 1807 – June 5, 1881), who was the Free Soil Party candidate for Governor of New York in 1852. Their children Hannah and Minthorne were named after their mother, and Hannah and Minthorne streets in Staten Island are named for them.[5] Hannah survived her husband by nearly four years; she died on February 18, 1829, in Tompkinsville, Staten Island. She and her husband are buried in the Minthorne family vault at St. Mark's-in-the-Bouwerie, in lower Manhattan.[4]

Governor[edit]

On April 30, 1807, he defeated the incumbent Governor Morgan Lewis – Tompkins received 35,074 votes, Lewis 30,989 – and remained in office as Governor of New York until 1817. He was reelected in 1810, defeating Jonas Platt – Tompkins 43,094 votes, Jonas Platt 36,484. In 1813 he defeated Stephen Van Rensselaer – Tompkins 43,324 votes, Van Rensselaer 39,718 – and in 1816, he beat Rufus King – Tompkins 45,412 votes, King 38,647.

During the War of 1812, Tompkins proved to be one of the most effective war governors. He played an important role in reorganizing the state militia and promoted the formation of a standing state military force based on select conscription. He declined an appointment as United States Secretary of State by President James Madison in 1814, instead accepting appointment as commander of the federal military district that included New York City.[6]

In 1815 Tompkins established a settlement along the eastern shore of Staten Island that came to be called Tompkinsville. He built a dock along the waterfront in the neighborhood in 1817 and began offering daily steam ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan.

In 1817, Governor Tompkins suggested that July 4, 1827, be set as the date on which all slaves in New York state-including those who were born before the Gradual Manumission Act of July 4, 1799, (and who were therefore not eligible for freedom)-should be freed.[7]

Vice President[edit]

Tompkins was elected Vice President on the ticket with James Monroe in 1816, and was reelected in 1820, serving from March 4, 1817, to March 4, 1825. In 1820, while serving as Vice President, he ran for Governor of New York against incumbent DeWitt Clinton. The election was held in April 1820; Tompkins lost. He received 45,900 votes while Clinton received 47,447. In 1821, he was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention, serving as its president.

While Governor of New York, Tompkins personally borrowed money with his own property as collateral when the New York state legislature would not approve the necessary funds for the War of 1812. After the war, neither the state nor the Federal government reimbursed him so he could repay his loans. Years of litigation did not end until 1824, at which point the State of New York and the Federal government owed Tompkins $90,000, the equivalent of $1.4 to $1.5 million in 2012. His financial problems took a toll on his health, with Tompkins falling into alcoholism, and as Vice President he at times presided over the Senate while intoxicated. He died in Tompkinsville three months after retiring as Vice President and was interred in the Minthorne vault in the west yard of St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, New York City. Tompkins had the shortest post-vice presidency of any person who survived the office: 99 days (March 4, 1825 – June 11, 1825).

Tompkins would be the last Vice President to be elected to two terms with the same President until Thomas R. Marshall was elected Vice President, first in 1912 with Woodrow Wilson and again in 1916. Tompkins' immediate successor, John C. Calhoun served two consecutive terms but under different presidents (John Quincy Adams in 1824 and Andrew Jackson in 1828), and resigned the office before completing his second term.

Legacy[edit]

The cover to the vault in which Tompkin's remains were interred

Tompkinsville, a neighborhood on Staten Island, is named for Tompkins. There is also a Masonic lodge in the town named for him. Tompkins is credited with being one of the founding members of the Brighton Heights Reformed Church on Staten Island. The church was founded in 1823, during his term as vice president. Its first meeting place was in what was known as Quarantine, a predecessor of the facility on Ellis Island.

Tompkins County in New York, Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan, Public School 69 Daniel D. Tompkins School in Staten Island, and the Town of Tompkins are named after him, as is Tompkins Road, running between Post Road (NY-22) and Fenimore Road in Scarsdale, New York. Tompkinsville, Kentucky, is named for Tompkins. It is the county seat of Monroe County, Kentucky, which is named for the president under whom Tompkins served as vice president.

Tompkins was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York in 1820 and 1821. The Daniel D Tompkins Memorial Chapel at the Masonic Home in Utica, New York was built in his honor in 1911.[8] The Grand Lodge of New York celebrated the Centennial of the chapel on June 25, 2011.[9][10]

Tompkins was mentioned by Kris Kringle in the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street. The screenplay was incorrect, however, in that Kringle mentions that Tompkins served as vice-president under John Quincy Adams when Adams's vice-president was actually John C. Calhoun. (Tompkins was the 6th vice-president and Quincy Adams was the 6th president, leading to confusion in the script).[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "FOX MEADOW SALES. First Break Made Into Famous Westchester Estate", New York Times, April 3, 1921, p.76
  2. ^ Irwin, Ray W. Daniel D. Tompkins: Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States, p. 27 (1968)
  3. ^ (3 March 1798). Marriages, The Weekly Magazine, p. 160 (1798)
  4. ^ a b Dunlap, Leslie W. Our Vice-Presidents and Second Ladies, p. 32-34 (1988)
  5. ^ Platt, Tevah (3 June 2010). Neighborhood still memorializes Daniel Tompkins, Staten Island Advance
  6. ^ Spencer C. Tucker, The Encyclopedia Of the War Of 1812, 2012, page 713
  7. ^ White, Shane. Somewhat More Independent: The End of Slavery in New York City, 1770-1810. University of Georgia Press, 1991. pps.53-54
  8. ^ "Tompkins Chapel was built in 1911 in memory of Most Worshipful Daniel D. Tompkins, Grand Master of Masons in 1820". MasonicHomeNY. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  9. ^ "The Centennial of the Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel". Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  10. ^ "Centennial of the Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel". Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  11. ^ "The Making of Miracle on 34th Street, 50th Anniversary Edition" (Sindpiper Publishing), 1997

External links[edit]

Media related to Daniel D. Tompkins at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Morgan Lewis
Governor of New York
1807–1817
Succeeded by
John Tayler
Acting
Party political offices
Preceded by
Elbridge Gerry
Democratic-Republican vice presidential nominee
1816, 1820
Succeeded by
John C. Calhoun1
Political offices
Preceded by
Elbridge Gerry
Vice President of the United States
1817–1825
Succeeded by
John C. Calhoun
Notes and references
1. The Democratic-Republican Party party splintered in the election of 1824. Calhoun was the most prominent of several Republican vice presidential candidates, winning more than six times as many votes as his nearest competitor.