George Clinton, an American soldier and statesman, youngest son of Charles Clinton, born in Ulster co., N. Y., July 20, 1739, died at Washington, April 20, 1812. He received a careful education, directed chiefly by his father and by a Scottish clergyman who was a graduate of the university of Aberdeen, and he early signalized his enterprising character by sailing in a privateer in the French war.
He soon after joined a militia company as lieutenant, and took part in the expedition against FortFrontenac, now Kingston, Canada. Choosing the legal profession, he practised with distinction in his native county, till in 1768 he was elected to the colonial assembly, where he soon became the head of a whig minority. He was elected to the continental congress in 1775, voted for the declaration of independence, was appointed brigadier general of the United States in 1777, and in the same year, at the first election under the constitution of New York, was chosen both governor and lieutenant governor of the state. He accepted the governorship, and by six successive elections held that office for 18 years. Both in his civil and military capacity, he exhibited great energy and rendered important services throughout the war; and though his efforts to save Forts Montgomery and Clinton in the Hudson highlands in 1777 were unsuccessful, it was yet due in a large measure to his counsels that communication was prevented between the British in Canada and the city of New York. The politics of New York were in a distracted state by reason of the numerous tories residing within its limits, which made the chief magistracy unsurpassed in difficulty by any office in the country except that of commander-in-chief of the army.
In 1788 he presided over the convention at Poughkeepsie to consider the federal constitution, the adoption of which he opposed, not deeming it sufficiently decided in favor of the sovereignty of each state. When in 1792 Washington was elected to the presidency for the second time, Clinton received 50 electoral votes for vice president. After an interval in his official life, he was again elected in 1801 governor of New York, and in 1804 was elected vice president of the United States, receiving the same number of votes as Jefferson received for the presidency. He was one of the prominent candidates for nomination to the presidency in 1808, and received 6 electoral votes in opposition to Madison, but he was continued in the chair of vice president by 113 electoral votes. He was acting in discharge of the duties of his office at the time of his death. By his casting vote in the senate, Jan. 24, 1811, the recharter of the national bank was refused; he thinking it inexpedient rather than unconstitutional.