John Peter Van Ness

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John Peter Van Ness
John Peter Van Ness.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 6th congressional district district
In office
1801–1803
Preceded by John Bird
Succeeded by Isaac Bloom
Personal details
Born 1770
Ghent, New York
Died March 7, 1846
Political party Democrat-Republican
Spouse(s) Marcia Burns

John Peter Van Ness (1770 - March 7, 1846) was a United States Representative from New York. Born in Ghent, New York to an old Dutch family. He completed preparatory studies at Washington Seminary and attended Columbia College in New York City. He studied law and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced.

Career[edit]

He was elected as a Democratic-Republican to New York's 6th congressional district for the 7th United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John Bird and took his seat on October 6, 1801. In April 1802, he was defeated for re-election by Federalist Henry W. Livingston. On January 17, 1803, Van Ness's seat was declared vacant, because in 1802 he had been appointed by President Thomas Jefferson a major of militia in the District of Columbia, and under the U.S. Constitution no member of Congress could hold any federal office. He then made Washington his home and was president of the second council in 1803. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel commandant of the first legion of militia in 1805, brigadier general in 1811, and major general in 1813; he was an alderman of the city of Washington in 1829 and mayor from 1830 to 1834.

During the 1820s, Van Ness was a member of the prestigious society, Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, who counted among their members former presidents Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and many prominent men of the day, including well-known representatives of the military, government service, medical and other professions.[1] He was a friend of Washington Irving.

Van Ness was second vice president of the Washington National Monument Society in 1833 and was president of the commissioners of the Washington City Canal in 1834, and president of the branch bank of the United States at Washington, D.C.; he was also president of the National Metropolitan Bank from 1814 until his death 1846.

Philanthropy[edit]

Although not a Catholic, donated the land on which the cornerstone of St. Mary Mother of God church, at the southeast corner of Fifth Street and H Street, N.W. would be laid on March 25, 1846. The land donation was made with the stipulations that that Catholic worship should begin there within one year, ensuring the completion of the church on October 18, 1846, and that worship be regularly continued there. If Catholic worship were to ever cease at the location, the land would to revert to the Van Ness family.

Family[edit]

In 1802, Van Ness married Marcia Burns (1782–1832),[2] a prominent philanthropist herself, and supporter of the orphan asylum.[3]

The couple lived at the Van Ness House, constructed in 1813 to 1816, located at Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, and 18th Street, N.W. It was demolished for the Pan American Union Building.[4]

Death and Interment[edit]

Van Ness died on March 7, 1846 and was entombed, with his wife who had predeceased him on September 9, 1832,[5] in the Van Ness Mausoleum, which originally stood on H Street, N.W., between Ninth and Tenth Streets in Washington, D.C. In 1872, the Van Ness' were reinterred in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown.[6]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Bird
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 6th congressional district

1801–1803
Succeeded by
Isaac Bloom
Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Gales, Jr.
Mayor of Washington, D.C.
1830–1834
Succeeded by
William A. Bradley