John Langdon (politician)

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John Langdon
John langdon.jpg
President pro tempore of the Senate
In office
April 6, 1789 – August 9, 1789
President George Washington
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Richard Henry Lee
In office
November 5, 1792 – December 2, 1793
President George Washington
Preceded by Richard Henry Lee
Succeeded by Ralph Izard
United States Senator
from New Hampshire
In office
April 6, 1789 – March 4, 1801
Preceded by None
Succeeded by James Sheafe
2nd Governor of New Hampshire
In office
June 1, 1785 – June 7, 1786
Preceded by Meshech Weare
Succeeded by John Sullivan
In office
June 4, 1788 – January 22, 1789
Preceded by John Sullivan
Succeeded by John Sullivan
In office
June 6, 1805 – June 8, 1809
Preceded by John Taylor Gilman
Succeeded by Jeremiah Smith
In office
June 5, 1810 – June 5, 1812
Preceded by Jeremiah Smith
Succeeded by William Plumer
Personal details
Born (1741-06-26)June 26, 1741
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Died September 18, 1819(1819-09-18) (aged 78)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Political party Pro-Administration
Anti-Administration
Democratic-Republican
Religion Congregationalist
Signature

John Langdon (June 26, 1741 – September 18, 1819) was a politician from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and one of the first two United States senators from that state. Langdon was an early supporter of the Revolutionary War and served in the Continental Congress. After being in Congress for 12 years, including serving as the first president pro tempore of the Senate, Langdon became governor of New Hampshire. He turned down a nomination for vice presidential candidate in 1812, and later retired until his death in 1819.

Life and career[edit]

His father was a prosperous farmer and local ship builder, whose family had emigrated to America before 1660 from Sheviock, Caradon, Cornwall, and was among the first to settle near the mouth of Piscataqua River, a settlement which became Portsmouth, one of New England's major seaports. Langdon attended the local grammar school, run by a veteran of the 1745 Siege of Louisbourg against the French at Fortress Louisbourg in New France. After finishing his primary education, Langdon served an apprenticeship as a clerk. He and his older brother, Woodbury Langdon, rejected the opportunity to join in their father's successful agricultural pursuits, and went to sea instead, apprenticed themselves to local naval merchants.

By age 22, Langdon was captain of a cargo ship called the Andromache, sailing to the West Indies. Four years later he owned his first merchantman, and would continue over time to acquire a small fleet of vessels, engaged in the triangular trade between Portsmouth, the Caribbean, and London. His older brother was even more successful in international trade, and by 1777 both young men were among Portsmouth's wealthiest citizens.

British control of the shipping industries greatly hurt Langdon's business, motivating him to become a vigorous and prominent supporter of the revolutionary movement in the 1770s. He served on the New Hampshire Committee of Correspondence and a nonimportation committee, and also attended various Patriot assemblies. In 1774, he participated in the seizure and confiscation of British munitions from Fort William and Mary.

Langdon served as a member of the Second Continental Congress from 1775 to 1776. He resigned in June 1776 to become agent for the Continental forces against the British and superintended the construction of several warships including the Raleigh, the America, and the Ranger, which was captained by John Paul Jones. In 1777, he equipped an expedition against the British, participating in the Battle of Bennington and commanding Langdon's Company of Light Horse Volunteers at Saratoga and in Rhode Island.

In 1784, he built at Portsmouth the mansion now known as the Governor John Langdon House. Langdon was elected to two terms as President of New Hampshire, 1785–86 and 1788–89. He was a member of the Congress of the Confederation in 1787 and became a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, serving as a member of the New Hampshire delegation. Langdon was elected to the U.S. Senate and served from March 4, 1789, to March 4, 1801. He was elected the first President pro tempore of the Senate on April 6, 1789, and also served as President pro tempore during the Second Congress.

Governor John Langdon House at Portsmouth, New Hampshire

During the 1787 Constitutional debates in Philadelphia, Langdon spoke out against James Madison's proposed "negative" on State laws simply because he felt that should the Senate be granted this power and not the House of Representatives, it would "hurt the feelings" of House members.[1][dubious ]

In 1798, Langdon assisted Oney Judge to evade Burwell Bassett, the nephew of George & Martha Washington, who had intended to kidnap Judge and return her to slavery with the Washingtons.[2]

Langdon later served as a member of the New Hampshire Legislature (1801–05), with the last two terms as speaker; he served as governor from 1805–12, with the exception of 1809–10. In 1808, his niece, Catherine Whipple Langdon, married Edmund Roberts.[3] Langdon declined the nomination to be a candidate for vice president with James Madison in 1812, and later retired. He died in his hometown of Portsmouth in 1819, and was interred at the Langdon Tomb in the North Cemetery.

The town of Langdon, New Hampshire is named after him, as well as Langdon Street in Madison, Wisconsin, a town with several streets named after founding fathers.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_710.asp
  2. ^ Eva Gerson, "Ona Judge Staines: Escape from Washington", 2000, Black History, SeacoastNH
  3. ^ "Calvin Howard Bell Family". extract from Bell Family History. Access Genealogy. April 23, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2012. "Judge Woodbury Langdon, of Portsmouth , N. H.; Delegate to the Continental Congress, 1779; President of N. H. Senate, 1784; Judge of the Superior Court of N. H., 1782-91....(a) Catherine Whipple Langdon: m. 1808, Edmund Roberts, of Portsmouth, N. H." 
  4. ^ http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/odd/archives/002071.asp

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Meshech Weare
Governor of New Hampshire
1785–1786
Succeeded by
John Sullivan
Preceded by
John Sullivan
Governor of New Hampshire
1788 –1789
Succeeded by
John Sullivan
Preceded by
John Taylor Gilman
Governor of New Hampshire
1805–1809
Succeeded by
Jeremiah Smith
Preceded by
Jeremiah Smith
Governor of New Hampshire
1810–1812
Succeeded by
William Plumer
Preceded by
none
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
April 6, 1789 – August 9, 1789
Succeeded by
Richard Henry Lee
Preceded by
Richard Henry Lee
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
November 5, 1792 – December 2, 1793
Succeeded by
Ralph Izard
United States Senate
Preceded by
None
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from New Hampshire
1789–1801
Served alongside: Paine Wingate, Samuel Livermore
Succeeded by
James Sheafe