Gulian C. Verplanck

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"Gulian Verplanck" redirects here. For the Speaker of the NY Assembly, see Gulian Verplanck (speaker).
Gulian Crommelin Verplanck

Gulian Crommelin Verplanck (August 6, 1786 – March 18, 1870) was an American attorney, politician, writer and sometime man of letters. He was elected to the New York State Assembly and Senate, and later to the United States House of Representatives from New York, where he served as Chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee.

He served in a number of appointed positions of major institutions in New York: governor of New York Hospital; regent of the University of the State of New York, where in 1858 he became its Vice Chancellor, serving until his death more than a decade later; and President of the Board of Commissioners of Immigration for more than two decades.

Verplanck published articles and poetry in the North American Review, and was counted among the "Knickerbocker group". As a young man, he was among the organizers of the American Academy of the Fine Arts in New York City, which opened in 1802. It was intended to promote the study of classical art and help establish the city as a center of art. With tastes changing, it closed in 1840.


Verplanck was born in Wall Street in New York City, the son of Congressman Daniel C. Verplanck and his wife, descendants of Dutch colonists. He graduated B.A. from Columbia College in 1801. He "read the law" as an apprenticd with Josiah Ogden Hoffman and was admitted to the bar in 1807.

A few years later, when established, he married Mary Eliza Fenno on October 2, 1811. She was a daughter of John Fenno and his wife. One of her sisters married J. O. Hoffman. Verplanck and Mary Eliza had two sons together. While traveling abroad, Mary Verplanck died in 1817 in Paris. She was buried there at the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Verplanck was elected as a member of the New York State Assembly in 1820–21, 1822 and 1823. He served as a professor at the General Theological Seminary in New York City from 1821 to 1824. He was one of the governors of the New York Hospital from 1823 to 1865. In 1826, he was elected a regent of the University of the State of New York, and in 1858 became its Vice Chancellor, remaining in office until his death.

He was elected as Jacksonian to the 19th, 20th, and as a Democrat to the 21st and 22nd United States Congresses, holding office from March 4, 1825, to March 3, 1833. He was Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means (22nd Congress). In 1833, when President Andrew Jackson began his quest to suppress the Second Bank of the United States, Verplanck left the Democrats.

In April 1834, at the first popular election for Mayor of New York City, Verplanck was the candidate of the emerging Whig Party but was narrowly defeated (sources range from 181 to 213 votes) by Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence.[1] Afterwards Verplanck kept his own counsel in politics and supported William Henry Harrison (Whig), James K. Polk (Dem.), Zachary Taylor (Whig) and James Buchanan (Dem.) for President, remaining a Democrat thereafter.

Verplanck was a member of the New York State Senate (1st D.) from 1838 to 1841, sitting in the 61st, 62nd, 63rd and 64th New York State Legislatures.

He was appointed as the President of the Board of Commissioners of Immigration, serving from 1846 until his death in 1870. He was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1867-68.

Writing career[edit]

In his literary life, Verplanck was a contributor to the North American Review, perhaps best known for his denunciation of Knickerbocker's History of New York (by Washington Irving). He also wrote verse satires against Dewitt Clinton; these were generally known as The Bucktail Bards.

Through his writing, he was considered part of the so-called "Knickerbocker group", which included Irving, William Cullen Bryant, James Kirke Paulding, Fitz-Greene Halleck, Joseph Rodman Drake, Robert Charles Sands, Lydia Maria Child, and Nathaniel Parker Willis.[2]

Verplanck was one of the founding members of the Century Club and was its President at the time of his death.


Verplanck died at his residence in 14th Street in New York City on March 18, 1870. He was buried at the Trinity Churchyard in Fishkill, New York.

See also[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Peter Sharpe,
John J. Morgan,
Churchill C. Cambreleng
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 3rd congressional district

with Churchill C. Cambreleng 1825-33, Jeromus Johnson 1825-29 and Campbell P. White 1829-33
Succeeded by
Dudley Selden,
Campbell P. White,
Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence,
Churchill C. Cambreleng
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Charles L. Livingston
New York State Senate
First District (Class 3)

Succeeded by
Isaac L. Varian



  1. ^ A Political History of the State of New York by DeAlva Stanwood Alexander (Vol. 1, pages 334ff)
  2. ^ Nelson, Randy F. The Almanac of American Letters. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 30. ISBN 0-86576-008-X