Winthrop Sargent

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Winthrop Sargent
Winthrop Sargent.jpg
Governor of Mississippi Territory
In office
May 7, 1798 – May 25, 1801
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byWilliam C. C. Claiborne
Secretary of Northwest Territory
In office
July 9, 1788 – May 31, 1798
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byWilliam Henry Harrison
Adjutant General of the U. S. Army
In office
September 4, 1791 – November 4, 1791
Preceded byJohn Pratt (Acting)
Succeeded byEbenezer Denny (Acting)
Personal details
Born(1753-05-01)May 1, 1753
Gloucester, Massachusetts
DiedJune 3, 1820(1820-06-03) (aged 67)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Political partyFederalist
Roewena Tupper
(m. 1789; her death 1790)

Mary McIntosh Williams
RelationsJudith Sargent Murray (sister)
Benjamin Tupper (father-in-law)
Paul Dudley Sargent (uncle)
ParentsWinthrop Sargent
Judith Saunders
Alma materHarvard College

Winthrop Sargent (May 1, 1753 – June 3, 1820) was a United States patriot, politician, and writer; and a member of the Federalist party.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sargent was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts on May 1, 1753. He was one of eight children born to Winthrop Sargent (1727–1793) and Judith Saunders. His elder sister was Judith Sargent Murray (1751–1820), an essayist, playwright, and poet.[2]

He was the grandson of Colonel Epes Sargent, one of the largest landholders in Gloucester.[3] Sargent was also the nephew of Daniel Sargent Sr. (1730–1806), a prominent merchant, Paul Dudley Sargent (1745–1828), who also served in the Continental Army, and John Sargent (1750–1824), a Loyalist during the Revolution.[4]

He graduated from Harvard College Class of 1771 before the Revolution. He spent some time at sea, as captain of a merchantman owned by his father.[5]


~ Mississippi Territory ~
~ Winthrop Sargent ~
Issue of 1948

He enlisted in Gridley's Regiment of Massachusetts Artillery on July 7, 1775 as a lieutenant, and later that year was promoted to captain lieutenant of Knox's Regiment, Continental Artillery, on December 10. He was with his guns at the siege of Boston, as well as the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. He was promoted to captain in the 3rd Continental Artillery on January 1, 1777, and brevetted major on August 25, 1783.[1]

In 1786, he helped to survey the Seven Ranges, the first lands laid out under the Land Ordinance of 1785. With inside knowledge of the area, he went on to form the Ohio Company of Associates, was an important shareholder in the Scioto Company, and as of 1787, secretary of the Ohio Company.[6]

Sargent was appointed by the Congress of the Confederation as the first Secretary of the Northwest Territory, a post second in importance only to the governor, Arthur St. Clair. He took up his post in 1788. Like St. Clair, Sargent would function in both civil and military capacities; he was wounded twice at the Battle of the Wabash, on November 4, 1791.[6] He also served in the Indian wars of 1794-5 and became adjutant general.[7] On August 15, 1796, he would, as Acting Governor, proclaim the establishment of Wayne County, the first American government in what is now Michigan.

President John Adams then appointed Sargent the first Governor of the Mississippi Territory, effective from May 7, 1798 to May 25, 1801.[8] His last entry as Northwest Territory's secretary was on May 31, 1798; he arrived at Natchez on August 6, but due to illness was unable to assume his post until August 16.[1]

Later life[edit]

In 1788, Sargent was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[9] He was also a member of the Philosophical Society and an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati as a delegate from Massachusetts, and published, with Benjamin B. Smith, Papers Relative to Certain American Antiquities (Philadelphia, 1796), and "Boston," a poem (Boston, 1803).[7]

Gloucester, Natchez, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1938. Originally known as Bellevue. Built by David Williams family, ca. 1800. Winthrop Sargent bought it from the Williams in 1808[10]

Being a Federalist, Sargent was dismissed from his position as territorial governor in 1801 by incoming president Thomas Jefferson. Sargent took up life in the private sector, developing his plantation Gloucester,[11] the earliest such establishment in Natchez. Sargent was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1813.[12]

Personal life[edit]

In 1789, he married Roewena Tupper (1766–1790), a daughter of Gen. Benjamin Tupper, at the settlement of Marietta in the first marriage ceremony held under the laws of the Northwest Territory.[13] After her death, he married Hannah Ober of Massachusetts on 13 Feb 1791. They had a daughter, Hannah born 25 August 1791 in Massachusetts, and Hannah Ober passed away the next day. Then he married Mary McIntosh Williams (1760–1823) shortly after moving to Natchez.[14] They were the parents of:[14]

  • Caroline Augusta Sargent (1795–1844), who married Fielding Lewis Turner (1776–1843)
  • William Fitz-Winthrop Sargent (b. 1799)
  • George Washington Sargent (1802–1864), who married Margaret Isabella Jessie Percy (1802–1865).[14]

He died on June 3, 1820 in New Orleans.[15] His grandson was the writer Winthrop Sargent (1825–1870).


Although there are at least two Sargent Townships (in Illinois and Nebraska) and one Sargent County, it is not known if these are named after Winthrop Sargent. However, a former township of the Northwest Territory's Wayne County was designated as Sargent Township or the District of Sargent; this apparently encompassed the settlements downriver from Detroit and at the River Raisin in what is now Monroe County, Michigan. This township apparently ceased to function after the organization of Michigan Territory, being replaced by the District of Erie. A student dormitory at Ohio University (founded in 1804) in Athens, Ohio, is named Sargent Hall in his honor. This is the first university in the Northwest Territory and the first in Ohio.


  1. ^ a b c Mississippi Dept of Archives and History (1905). The Mississippi Territorial Archives, 1798-18 ... Press of Brandon Print. Company. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  2. ^ Sargent, Emma Worcester (1923). Epes Sargent of Gloucester and His Descendants. Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  3. ^ Copley, John Singleton (1760). "Epes Sargent". Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  4. ^ Sargent, Winthrop (1920). Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent. Philadelphia: Printed for Private Collection. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  5. ^ Farrell, Betty (1993). Elite Families: Class and Power in Nineteenth-Century Boston. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780791415931. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b Biography of Winthrop Sargent on Ohio History Central retrieved 2/24/09
  7. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Sargent, Paul Dudley" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  8. ^ "Sword of Winthrop Sargent (1753-1820), First Governor of Northwest". The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter S" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  10. ^
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  13. ^ Zimmer, L: True Stories from Pioneer Valley, Broughton Foods Co., Marietta, Ohio (1987) p. 20.
  14. ^ a b c "Winthrop Sargent Papers, 1771-1948". Massachusetts Historical Society. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  15. ^ Skates, John Ray (1979). Mississippi: A Bicentennial History. New York City: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-05678-3.
Political offices
New title Secretary of Northwest Territory
July 9, 1788 – May 31, 1798
Succeeded by
William Henry Harrison
Governor of Mississippi Territory
May 7, 1798 – May 25, 1801
Succeeded by
William C. C. Claiborne
Military offices
Preceded by
John Pratt (acting)
Adjutant General of the U. S. Army
September 4, 1791 – November 4, 1791 (acting)
Succeeded by
Ebenezer Denny (acting)

External links[edit]