1st New York State Legislature

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1st New York State Legislature
State Constitutional Convention 2nd
Kingston-senate-house.jpg
Senate House, Kingston, the place of the first session of the State Senate (2007)
Overview
Jurisdiction New York, United States
Term September 9, 1777 – June 30, 1778
Senate
Members 24
President vacant
Temporary President Pierre Van Cortlandt
Assembly
Members 70 (de facto 65)
Speaker Walter Livingston
Sessions
1st September 1, 1777 – October 7, 1778
2nd January 5, 1778 – April 4, 1778
3rd June 22, 1778 – June 30, 1778

The 1st New York State Legislature, consisting of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, met from September 9, 1777, to June 30, 1778, during the first year of George Clinton's governorship, first at Kingston and later at Poughkeepsie.

Background[edit]

The 4th Provincial Congress of the Colony of New York convened at White Plains on July 9, 1776, and declared the independence of the State of New York. The next day the delegates re-convened as the "Convention of Representatives of the State of New-York" and on August 1 a committee was appointed to prepare a State Constitution. The New York Constitution was adopted by the Convention on April 20, 1777, and went into force immediately, without ratification by popular vote.

Apportionment and election[edit]

The State Senators were elected on general tickets in the senatorial districts, and were then divided into four classes. Six senators each drew lots for a term of 1, 2, 3 or 4 years and, beginning at the following election in April 1778, every year one fourth of the State Senate seats came up for election to a four-year term.[1]

Assemblymen were elected countywide on general tickets to a one-year term, the whole assembly being renewed annually.

On May 8, 1777, the Constitutional Convention appointed the senators from the Southern District, and the assemblymen from Kings, New York, Queens, Richmond and Suffolk counties—the area which was under British control—and determined that these appointees serve in the Legislature until elections could be held in those areas, presumably after the end of the American Revolutionary War. Vacancies among the appointed members in the Senate should be filled by the Assembly, and vacancies in the Assembly by the Senate.

Clinton House, one of the buildings used by the State government during sessions at Poughkeepsie

Sessions[edit]

The State Legislature met in Kingston, the seat of Ulster County. The State Senate met first on September 9, 1777, at the home of Abraham Van Gaasbeck, now known as Senate House, the Assembly met first on the next day at the Bogardus Tavern.[2] At the approach of the British army, the State Legislature dispersed on October 7, and reconvened in Poughkeepsie on January 5, 1778, possibly at a house now known as Clinton House.[3]

State Senate[edit]

Districts[edit]

Note: There are now 62 counties in the State of New York. The counties which are not mentioned in this list had not yet been established, or sufficiently organized, the area being included in one or more of the abovementioned counties. In 1784, Charlotte Co. was renamed Washington Co., and Tryon Co. was renamed Montgomery Co.

Senators[edit]

The asterisk (*) denotes members of the Constitutional Convention who continued as members of the Legislature.

District Senators Term drawn Notes
Southern Isaac Roosevelt* 1 year appointed by Constitutional Convention
John Morin Scott* 1 year appointed by Constitutional Convention;
elected to the Council of Appointment;
from March 13, 1778, also Secretary of State of New York
Dr. John Jones 2 years appointed by Constitutional Convention;
resigned on February 26, 1778, due to ill health
Richard Morris on March 4, 1778, appointed by the State Assembly, in place of Jones
Jonathan Lawrence* 2 years appointed by Constitutional Convention
Lewis Morris* 2 years appointed by Constitutional Convention
William Floyd 3 years appointed by Constitutional Convention
William Smith* 3 years appointed by Constitutional Convention
Pierre Van Cortlandt* 3 years appointed by Constitutional Convention;
elected Temporary President of the State Senate;
then elected Lt. Gov. to fill vacancy,[5] and took office on June 30, 1778
Philip Livingston* 4 years appointed by Constitutional Convention;
died June 12, 1778
Middle Henry Wisner* 1 year
Jonathan Landon* 2 years
Zephaniah Platt* 2 years
Arthur Parks* 3 years
Levi Pawling 4 years
Jesse Woodhull 4 years elected to the Council of Appointment
Eastern William Duer* 1 year
John Williams* 3 years
Alexander Webster* 4 years elected to the Council of Appointment
Western Isaac Paris* 1 year
Abraham Yates Jr.* 1 year elected to the Council of Appointment
Dirck W. Ten Broeck 2 years
Anthony Van Schaick 3 years
Jellis Fonda 4 years
Rinier Mynderse 4 years

Employees[edit]

  • Clerk: Robert Benson
  • Sergeant-at-Arms: Stephen Hendrickson, elected March 11, 1778
  • Doorkeeper and Messenger: Victor Bicker

State Assembly[edit]

Districts[edit]

Note: There are now 62 counties in the State of New York. The counties which are not mentioned in this list had not yet been established, or sufficiently organized, the area being included in one or more of the abovementioned counties. In 1784, Charlotte Co. was renamed Washington Co., and Tryon Co. was renamed Montgomery Co.

Assemblymen[edit]

The asterisk (*) denotes members of the Constitutional Convention who continued as members of the Legislature.

District Assemblymen Notes
Albany Jacob Cuyler* resigned September 30, 1777
John Cuyler Jr.
James Gordon
Walter Livingston elected Speaker
Stephen J. Schuyler
John Tayler*
Killian Van Rensselaer
Robert Van Rensselaer*
Peter Vrooman
William B. Whiting
Charlotte John Barns
Ebenezer Clarke
John Rowan
Ebenezer Russell
Cumberland none No election returns from these counties[6]
Gloucester
Dutchess Egbert Benson also New York State Attorney General
Dirck Brinckerhoff
Anthony Hoffman*
Gilbert Livingston*
Andrew Moorhouse
John Schenck*
Jacobus Swartwout
Kings William Boerum appointed by Constitutional Convention
Henry Williams appointed by Constitutional Convention
New York Evert Bancker* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Abraham Brasher* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Daniel Dunscomb* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Robert Harpur* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Frederick Jay appointed by Constitutional Convention
Abraham P. Lott* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Henry Rutgers appointed by Constitutional Convention; resigned on February 16, 1778
John Berrien appointed by the State Senate, in place of Rutgers
Jacobus Van Zandt* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Peter P. Van Zandt* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Orange Jeremiah Clark*
John Hathorn
Theunis Cuyper
Roeluf Van Houten
Queens Benjamin Birdsall appointed by Constitutional Convention
Benjamin Coe appointed by Constitutional Convention
Philip Edsall appointed by Constitutional Convention
Daniel Lawrence appointed by Constitutional Convention
Richmond Abraham Jones appointed by Constitutional Convention;
seat declared vacant on June 8, 1778, for "being with the enemy"
Joshua Mersereau appointed by Constitutional Convention
Suffolk David Gelston* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Ezra L'Hommedieu* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Burnet Miller* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Thomas Tredwell* appointed by Constitutional Convention
Thomas Wickes appointed by Constitutional Convention
Tryon Samuel Clyde
Michael Edie
Jacob G. Klock
Jacob Snell
Abraham Van Horne
Johannes Veeder
Ulster John Cantine
Johannes G. Hardenbergh*
Matthew Rea*
Cornelius C. Schoonmaker
Johannis Snyder
Henry Wisner Jr.*
Westchester Thaddeus Crane
Samuel Drake
Robert Graham
Israel Honeywell Jr.
Zebediah Mills*
Gouverneur Morris*

Employees[edit]

  • Clerk: John McKesson
  • Sergeant-at-Arms: Thomas Pettit
  • Doorkeeper: Richard Ten Eyck

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The same system of rotative renewal, though with three classes and 6-year terms, was adopted by the United States Constitution in 1789 for the United States Senate, and has been in use there ever since. Rotative renewal of the New York State Senate was abolished by the State Constitution of 1846, and State Senators have served two-year terms since 1848-49, except 1896-98 (a three-year term, to move the elections to even-numbered years), 1965 and 1966 (two one-year terms due to redistricting).
  2. ^ Photo of the historical marker of the site at Flickr
  3. ^ Clinton House at NY State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
  4. ^ All three senators from the Eastern District in this Legislature came from Charlotte County; see note for Assembly.
  5. ^ At the New York gubernatorial election, 1777, George Clinton was elected at the same time Governor and Lieutenant Governor. On June 30, 1777, he took office as Governor, and at the same time formally resigned the lieutenant governorship, leaving a vacancy. Van Cortlandt was elected Temporary President in this Legislature, and took office as Lt. Gov. at the beginning of the next legislative year.
  6. ^ Cumberland and Gloucester counties seceded from the Province of New York in January 1777, and became part of the Vermont Republic, while the Constitutional Convention was still debating the new Constitution. The New York Constitution was approved in April 1777, not recognizing the secession. Neither county did file any election returns with the Committee of Safety (the governing body of the State of New York between the adjournment of the Constitutional Convention and the inauguration of Gov. George Clinton) in 1777, and nobody claimed the seats.

Sources[edit]

  • The New York Civil List compiled by Franklin Benjamin Hough (Weed, Parsons and Co., 1858) [see pg. 48-52 for Constitutional Convention; pg. 108 for Senate districts; pg. 110 for senators; pg. 148f for Assembly districts; pg. 157 for assemblymen]