« AnteriorContinuar »
ability, among many other offices, those of governor of his native state, and of vice-president of the United States. While he lived,, his virtue, wisdom and valour, were the pride, the ornament, and security of his country; and when he died, he left an illustrious example of a well spent life, worthy of all imitation."
There are few men who will occupy as renowned a place in the history of his country as George Clinton; and the progress of time will increase the public veneration, and thicken the laurels that cover his monument.
CLINTON, CHARLES, the father of James and George Clinton, was distinguished in the colony of New York, as a gentleman of pure morals, strong and cultivated intellect, great respectability, and extensive influence. His grand father, William Clinton, was an adherent of Charles the first, in the civil wars of England, and an officer in his army; and after the dethronement of that monarch, took refuge on the continent of Europe, where he remained a long time in exile. He afterwards went secretly to Scotland, where he married and then passed over, for greater security, to the north of Ireland, where he died deprived of his patrimony, and leaving James, an orphan son, two years old,
When James arrived to manhood, he went to England to recover his patrimonial estate, but being barred by the limitation of an act of parliament, he returned to Ireland, and finally settled in the county of Longford, having married, on his visit to the country of his ancestors, miss Elizabeth Smith, the daughter of a captain in Cromwell's army; by which connexion, he was enabled to maintain, at that time, a respectable standing in the country of his adoption.
Charles Clinton, the subject of this memoir, was the son of James Clinton, and was born in the county of Longford, in Ireland, in 1690. In 1729,
he came to a determination to emigrate to British America, and having persuaded a number of his relations and friends to co-operate with him, he chartered a ship for the purpose of conveying his little colony to Philadelphia. By the terms of the Charter Party, the passengers were to be liberally supplied with provisions and other accommodations, and the vessel was to be navigated by honest and skilful hands. On the 20th of May, 1729, the ship left Ireland. Besides his wife, he had two daughters and one son with him. After being at sea for. some time, it was discovered that the commander of the vessel was a ruffian, and had probably formed a deliberate design of starving the passengers to death, either with a view to acquire their property or to deter emigration. He actually killed a man, and continued so long at sea, that the passengers were reduced to an allowance of half a biscuit and half a pint of water a day. In consequence of which many of them died, and Mr. Clinton lost a son and daughter. In this awful situation, the remedy of seizing the captain and committing the navigation of the vessel to Mr. Clinton, who was an excellent mathematician, occurred to the passengers; but they were prevented by the fear of incurring the guilt of piracy, especially as they could not obtain the co-operation or assistance of the officers of the ship. They were finally compelled to give the captain a large sum of money, as a commutation for their lives, and on the 4th of October, he landed them at Cape Cod. After leaving the ship, she was driven from her moorings in a stormy night and lost. Mr. Clinton and his friends continued in that part of the country until the spring of 1731; when he removed to the county of Ulster, in the colony of New York, where he formed a flourishing settlement. This misconduct of the commander of the vessel, diverted him from his original design of settling in Pennsylvania. The country which he selected was wild and uncultivated; covered with forests, supplied with streams, diversified with hills and valleys, and abundant in the products of cultivation; but so exposed (although only eight miles from the Hudson river and sixty from the city of New York) to the incursions of the savages, that Mr. Clinton considered it necessary to erect a palisade work round his house for the security of himself and his neighbours.
In this sequestered retreat he devoted himself to the cultivation of a large farm, and he occasionally acted as a surveyor of land; a profession, which at that time and since, has been followed by the most respectable men of this country. His leisure moments were devoted to study and writing. Possessed of a well selected library, and endowed with extraordinary talents, he made continual accessions to his stores of useful knowledge.
Merit so distinguished, and respectability so undoubted, attracted the favourable notice of the go-> vernment and the community. He was soon appointed a justice of the peace, and a judge of the county of Ulster. In 1756, he was appointed by the governor, sir Charles Hardy, lieutenant colonel of the second regiment of militia foot, for the county of Ulster. On the 24th March, 1758, he was appointed by lieutenant governor Delancey, a lieutenant colonel of one of the battalions of the regiment, in the province of New York, whereof Oliver Delancey was colonel; in which capacity he engaged in actual service, and acted under the command of colonel Bradstreet, at the siege and capture of fort Frontenac, (now Kingston,) on the north side of lake Ontario. In 1753, George Clinton, the father of sir Henry Clinton, was installed as governor of the colony. An intimacy took place between him and Mr. Clinton, in consequence of which, and their distant consanguinity,
the latter was earnestly solicited by his namesake, to accept of a lucrative and distinguished office; but preferring the charms of retirement, and the cultivation of literature, to the cares of public life, he declined every overture of the kind. George, who was named after the colonial governor, was honoured by his early attentions, and received from his friendship, the valuable office of clerk of the county. Mr. Clinton was also on terms of intimacy with several of the colonial chief magistrates, and the leading men of the province; and he is respectfully noticed by Smith, the historian of New York, for his ingenuity and knowledge. Besides the daughter born in Ireland, Mr. Clinton had four sons in this country. Alexander, educated in the college at Princeton, and afterwards a physician ; Charles, also an eminent physician and a surgeon in the army which took Havanna, in the Island of Cuba; James, a major general in the revolutionary army, and George, Governor of the state of New York, and Vice President of the United States. He was peculiarly happy and fortunate in his children. - Having devoted particular attention to their education, he had the satisfaction of seeing them possessed of the regard of their country, and worthy of the veneration of posterity.
He died at his place, in Ulster, now Orange county, on the 19th day of November, 1773, in his 83d year, just in time to escape, at that advanced age, the cares and perplexities of the revolution; but foreseeing its approach, he expired breathing an ardent spirit of patriotism, and conjuring his sons, in his last moments, to stand by the liberties of America.
Mr. Clinton possessed an uncommon genius; a penetrating understanding; a solid judgment, and an extensive fund of useful and ornamental knowledge, with the affability and manners of an accomplished gentleman. His person was tall, erect and graceful, and his appearance impressive and dignified. If he happened to be in the company of young people, their first impressions would be those of awe and reverence, but in the course of a few minutes, he would enter into the most pleasing and instructive conversation, which would soon restore their composure, and never failed of inspiring the most grateful attachment and the most respectful confidence. He was a dutiful son; an affectionate husband; a kind father; a good neighbour; a disinterested patriot, and a sincere Christian. He sometimes retired from the cares of business and the severe studies of the exact sciences, and took refuge in music and poetry, and courted the communion of Apollo and the muses.
The following lines, written by him on the grave of a beloved and elder sister, were casually preserved, and will show the kind affections which animated his bosom, and which attended him in all the relations and charities of life.
Oh! cans'i thou know, thou dear departed shade! The mighty sorrows that my soul invade, Whilst o'er thy mould'ring frame I mourning stand And view thy grave far from thy native land. With thee my tender years were early train'd, Oft have thy friendly arms my weight sustain’d, And when with childish freaks or pains oppres't, You, with soft music, lullid my soul to rest. DAVIDSON, WILLIAM, lieutenant colonel commandant in the North Carolina line, and brigadier general in the militia of that state, was the youngest son of George Davidson, who removed with his family, from Lancaster county, in Pennsylvania, in the year 1750, to Rowan county, in North Carolina.
William was born in the year 1746, and was educated in a plain country manner, at an academy in Charlotte, the county town of Mecklenburg, which adjoins Rowan."