Daniel D. Tompkins

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Daniel D. Tompkins
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 (Acting)
Personal details
Born Daniel Tompkins
(1774-06-21)June 21, 1774
Scarsdale, New York, British America
Died June 11, 1825(1825-06-11) (aged 50)
Castleton, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Hannah Minthorne
Alma mater Columbia University
Religion Presbyterianism
Signature Cursive signature in ink

Daniel D. Tompkins (June 21, 1774 – June 11, 1825) was an American politician. He was the fourth Governor of New York (1807–17), and the sixth Vice President of the United States (1817–25).

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. Tompkins was frequently absent from Senate meetings and died soon after leaving office.


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."[1][2][3] The generally accepted conclusion is that it did not stand for anything, and served only to distinguish him from the other Daniel Tompkins.[4][5][6][7]

Early life, family, and career[edit]

The Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial in Scarsdale, New York

Daniel D. Tompkins was born in Scarsdale, Westchester County, New York, at his home, the estate of Fox Meadow.[8] He was the son of Sarah Ann (Hyatt) and Jonathan Griffin Tompkins. 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.[9][10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[11]


Coat of Arms of Daniel D. Tompkins

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. Tompkins was supported by DeWitt Clinton in his first run for office, but Tompkins later broke with Clinton by supporting James Madison over Clinton in the 1808 presidential election.[13]

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.[14]

Tompkins was also elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1814.[15]

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 1816 he purchased much of the land later known as Tompkinsville from the Church of St. Andrew, but his financial troubles later led the church to foreclose. His son-in-law and daughter, Dr. John S. and Hannah Westervelt then bought the property, which they later divided into many lots to sell off.

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.[16]

Vice president[edit]

Many New York Democratic-Republicans supported Tompkins for president in the 1816 presidential election, but James Monroe received the party's nomination.[13] Tompkins was instead elected as Monroe's running mate, and Tompkins won reelection 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.[17]

Tompkins entered in office in poor health, the result of a fall from a horse on November 3, 1814. Tompkins's finances were also quite poor, as Tompkins had borrowed money to finance the war effort during the War of 1812, and Tompkins slipped into alcoholism. Tompkins had failed to adequately document his expenses, and both the New York legislature and the federal government refused to fully reimburse him. With poor physical and financial health, Tompkins spent much of his vice presidency outside of Washington, D.C., and Tompkins made for a poor presiding officer of the Senate while it debated the Missouri Compromise in 1820. In 1823, Tompkins finally won compensation from the federal government, but he continued to drink heavily and was unable to resolve his business affairs.[13]

He died in Tompkinsville on June 11, 1825, 99 days after leaving office, and was interred in the Minthorne vault in the west yard of St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, New York City. His post-vice presidency lifespan is the shortest of any person who did not die in office.

Tompkins was the second vice president to serve two terms full terms, after John Adams, who was George Washington's vice president from 1789 to 1797. He would be the last to do so for nearly a century, until Thomas R. Marshall, who served under Woodrow Wilson from 1913 to 1921. (Since Marshall, John Nance Garner, Richard M. Nixon, George H. W. Bush, Al Gore, Dick Cheney, and Joe Biden, have done so as well.)


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.

Four forts in New York State in the War of 1812 were named for Governor Tompkins, in Staten Island, Sackets Harbor, Buffalo, and Plattsburgh.

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 Park in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn, NY (now called Von King Park) was named after Daniel D. Tompkins [18] Also the nearby Tompkins Avenue and Tompkins Public Houses are named after the same.

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.[19] The Grand Lodge of New York celebrated the Centennial of the chapel on June 25, 2011.[20][21]

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).[22]


  1. ^ Publishers weekly, Volume 195, Part 2. New Providence, New Jersey,: R.R. Bowker Co. 1969. p. 100. 
  2. ^ Fredriksen, John C. (2000). Green Coats and Glory: The United States Regiment of Riflemen, 1808-1821. Youngstown, NY: Old Fort Niagara Association. p. 29. 
  3. ^ New York State Historical Association (1920). "Governor Tompkins' Middle Name". State Service: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine Devoted to the Government of the State of New York and its Affairs, Volume 4. Albany, NY: State Service Magazine Co., Inc.: 502. 
  4. ^ Winchester, Charles M. (February 1, 1920). "New York's Forty-Four Governors". State Service: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine. Albany, NY: State Service Magazine Company: 147. 
  5. ^ Winchester, Charles M. (June 1, 1920). "Governor Tompkins' Middle Name". State Service: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine. Albany, NY: State Service Magazine Company: 502. 
  6. ^ Skinner, Charles R. (1919). Governors of New York from 1777 to 1920. Albany, NY: J. B. Lyon Company. p. 2. 
  7. ^ Smith, Henry T. (1898). Manual of Westchester County. 1. White Plains, NY: Henry T. Smith. p. 246. 
  8. ^ "FOX MEADOW SALES. First Break Made Into Famous Westchester Estate", New York Times, April 3, 1921, p.76
  9. ^ Irwin, Ray W. Daniel D. Tompkins: Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States, p. 27 (1968)
  10. ^ (3 March 1798). Marriages, The Weekly Magazine, p. 160 (1798)
  11. ^ a b Dunlap, Leslie W. Our Vice-Presidents and Second Ladies, p. 32-34 (1988)
  12. ^ Platt, Tevah (3 June 2010). Neighborhood still memorializes Daniel Tompkins, Staten Island Advance
  13. ^ a b c "Daniel D. Tompkins, 6th Vice President (1817-1825)". US Senate. US Senate. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  14. ^ Spencer C. Tucker, The Encyclopedia Of the War Of 1812, 2012, page 713
  15. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  16. ^ White, Shane. Somewhat More Independent: The End of Slavery in New York City, 1770-1810. University of Georgia Press, 1991. pps.53-54
  17. ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Tompkins, Daniel D.". Encyclopædia Britannica. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  18. ^ "Herbert Von King Park". 
  19. ^ "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. 
  20. ^ "The Centennial of the Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel". Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  21. ^ "Centennial of the Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  22. ^ "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

Party political offices
Preceded by
Morgan Lewis
Democratic-Republican nominee for Governor of New York
1807, 1810, 1813, 1816
Succeeded by
DeWitt Clinton
Preceded by
Elbridge Gerry
Democratic-Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States
1816, 1820
Succeeded by
John C. Calhoun
Albert Gallatin (Withdrew)
Nathaniel Macon
Nathan Sanford¹
Political offices
Preceded by
Morgan Lewis
Governor of New York
Succeeded by
John Tayler
Preceded by
Elbridge Gerry
Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
John C. Calhoun
Academic offices
Preceded by
Morgan Lewis
Chancellor of the University of the State of New York
Succeeded by
John Tayler
Notes and references
1. The Democratic-Republican Party split in the 1824 election, fielding four separate candidates.