Duer, William, 1747-1799

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William Duer (March 18, 1743 – May 7, 1799) was a British-born American lawyer, developer, and speculator from New York City. A Federalist, Duer wrote in support of ratifying the United States Constitution as "Philo-Publius". He had earlier served in the Continental Congress and the convention that framed the New York Constitution. In 1778, he signed the United States Articles of Confederation and is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Born in the county of Devon in England, Duer was educated at Eton College, and while still under age, was put into the army as ensign. He accompanied Robert Clive as aide-de-camp on his return to India as governor general in 1762. He suffered severely from the climate, so Lord Clive sent him back to England, where he remained five years until his father's death, upon which he inherited his father's estates in Dominica. He traveled to New York State, for the first time in 1768, to arrange for a regular and constant supply of lumber for his plantations in Antigua and Dominica. As a planter, he traded extensively with Philip Schuyler, who persuaded him to move to New York early in the 1770s. On a previous trip to the area, Duer had purchased tracts of land on the upper Hudson River near Albany. The area, known as Fort Miller, served both as Duer's first residence and as the site of his early financial ventures. Duer set up sawmills, warehouses, and a store. By 1776, had built a moderately successful mercantile business based primarily on lumber production.

Duer was originally a moderate Whig, somewhat reluctant to become involved in active resistance to the British government. But he became a member of the Provincial Congress in 1775; he was one of the committee which drafted the original New York Constitution the next year. Duer was a member of the 1st New York State Legislature, serving in the New York State Senate for the Eastern District from September 9, 1777 to June 30, 1778. He served as a member of the Continental Congress in 1778 and 1779. In 1779, Duer returned to private business.

Duer became a prominent speculator after the war; he was also elected to the New York General Assembly in 1786. When Alexander Hamilton, Schuyler's son-in-law, became first Secretary of the Treasury in 1789, Duer became the first Assistant Secretary. He continued to speculate in American bonds, including the failed Scioto Company scheme to buy up the American debt to France at a discount. Duer went bankrupt as a result of the Panic of 1792, and was held in debtors' prison for the rest of his life. Initially buried in the family vault under the old church of St. Thomas, he was later reinterred in Jamaica, Long Island, New York.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn DeWitt family. Papers, 1705-1952, 1750-1839 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn United States. District Court (New York : Southern District). Equity dockets and case files, 1791-1846 [microform]. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Autograph letter signed : New York, 1794 Oct. 9. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf La Roche, Jean Baptiste de, fl. 1791-1827. Jean Baptiste de La Roche journal, 1791. Maine Historical Society Library
referencedIn Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866. Collection of documents concerning the American Revolution, 1740-1866 Houghton Library
referencedIn Livingston, Robert R., 1746-1813. Robert R. Livingston papers, 1707-1862. New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Papers of William Duer, 1776-1789. Library of Congress
referencedIn United States. District Court (Pennsylvania : Eastern District). Equity dockets and case files, 1790-1847 [microform]. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Letter, 1790 Dec. 10, New York, to Le Roy, Bayard & Co., Philadelphia. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf New York (State). New York State Revolutionary War collection, 1776-1785. Churchill County Museum
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Papers, 1774-1802. New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Lee, Richard Henry, 1732-1794. Letters of Richard Henry Lee [manuscript] 1777-1791. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Duer family. Duer family papers, ca. 1890-1955. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Adams, John, 1735-1826. ALS, 1800 September 6 : Quincy, to T.B. Adams. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Papers, 1752-1802. New-York Historical Society Library
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Autograph letter signed : New York, to the Hon. Richard Varick, mayor of New York, 1796 Sept. 10. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Thomas Addis Emmet collection, 1483-1876 (bulk:1700-1800) New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn George Washington papers, 1592-1943 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn United States. District Court (Pennsylvania : Eastern District). Admiralty dockets and case files, 1790-1847 [microform]. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Autograph letter signed : New York, to General Irvine, 1790 Jul. 16. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Hamilton family. Papers, 1768-1906, 1843-1848 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. Letter to Henry Remsen [manuscript], 1792 April 14. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. DS : Fishkill, N.Y., to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, 1776 Oct. 11. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Barlow, Joel, 1754-1812. Letter, 1791, October 19, London, to Col. Benjamin Walker, New York. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
referencedIn Morris family papers, 1796-1854 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Morris family. Morris family papers, 1796-1854. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Spire American Revolutionary War Collection, 1667-1878, 1748-1799 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Autograph letter signed : Board of Treasury, New York, to Thomas Haswood, Esq., 1787 Oct. 30. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn New York (State). Commission for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies (1777-1778). Minutes, 1776 Dec. 11-1778 Sept. 23. New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Autograph letter signed : to B. Walker, Esq., 1792 Jan. 22. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Secretary of the Board of Treasury accounts, 1785-1789. Connecticut Historical Society
referencedIn Gratz, Simon. Alphabetical collection, 1677-1910. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Chew family. Papers, 1735-1796. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Scioto Land Company. Scioto Land Company records, 1783-1793. Churchill County Museum
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. ALS : New York, to Benjamin Walker, Paris, 1790 Nov. 30. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Duer family. Papers, 1784-1937. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Gilman, Nathaniel, 1759-1847. Papers of Nathaniel Gilman, 1776-1824. Library of Congress
referencedIn Schuyler, Philip John, 1733-1804. Account book, 1764-1770. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library
creatorOf New Jersey Historical Society. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1664-1956 New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Constable, Rucker & Co. Papers, 1778-1800. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Kean, Jefferson Randolph, 1860-1950. Papers of Jefferson Randolph Kean, 1765-1938. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Autograph letter book, 1746-1879. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn New York (State). Supreme Court. New York State Supreme Court collection, 1691 - ca. 1891. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Comfort Sands & Co. Account book, 1782 Apr.-1787 Dec. (bulk 1782). New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Williams, John, 1752-1806. Papers, 1767-1841. American Periodical Series I
referencedIn George Washington papers, 1592-1943 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Nelson, William, 1847-1914. Manuscript collection, 1690-1875 New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Washington Irving's Life of George Washington, Volume VII, Miscellany, 1764-1792. Cornell University Library
referencedIn John Holker Papers, 1777-1822 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Miller, Alice Duer, 1874-1942. Alice Duer Miller papers 1899-1942. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Duer family Papers, 1784-1937. Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn Autograph File, D, 1586-1975. Houghton Library
creatorOf Wooster, David, 1711-1777. Autograph letter signed with initials : Rye Neck, to Col. William Duer, 1777 Mar. 2. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Holker, John, 1745-1822. Papers of John Holker, 1777-1822. Library of Congress
referencedIn Washington, George, 1732-1799. George Washington papers, 1592-1937 (bulk 1748-1799). Library of Congress
referencedIn Sackett family. Papers, 1776-1814. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866. Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843 Houghton Library
creatorOf Willett, Marinus, 1740-1830. ALS, 1782 October 16 : Fort McKeen, to Colonel William Duer, Albany. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Autograph File, H, 1584-1988. Houghton Library
creatorOf Duer, William, 1747-1799. Autograph letter signed : to Comfort Sands, 1778 Oct. 17. Pierpont Morgan Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, John, 1735-1826. person
associatedWith Barlow, Joel, 1754-1812. person
associatedWith Bird, Mark. person
associatedWith Chew family. family
associatedWith Comfort Sands & Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Constable, Rucker & Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Deane, Silas, 1737-1789. person
associatedWith Dearborn, Frederick M. (Frederick Myers), b. 1876 person
associatedWith DeWitt family. family
spouseOf Duer, Catherine Alexander. person
memberOf Duer family. family
parentOf Duer, John, 1782-1858 person
grandparentOf Duer, William, 1805-1879 person
parentOf Duer, William Alexander, 1780-1858. person
grandparentOf Duer, William Denning, b. 1812, person
associatedWith Emmet, Thomas Addis person
associatedWith England and Wales. Royal Navy corporateBody
associatedWith Gilman, Nathaniel, 1759-1847. person
associatedWith Gratz, Simon. person
associatedWith Hamilton family. family
associatedWith Haswood, Thomas, Esq, person
associatedWith Hillegas, Michael, 1728-1804. person
associatedWith Holker, John, 1745-1822. person
associatedWith Irvine, General, person
associatedWith Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. person
associatedWith Kean, Jefferson Randolph, 1860-1950. person
associatedWith Kountze, De Lancey, d. 1946, person
associatedWith La Roche, Jean Baptiste de, fl. 1791-1827. person
associatedWith Lee, Richard Henry, 1732-1794. person
associatedWith Le Roy, Bayard & Co. person
associatedWith Livingston, Edward, 1764-1836. person
associatedWith Livingston, Robert R., 1746-1813. person
ancestorOf Miller, Alice Duer, 1874-1942. person
associatedWith Morris family family
correspondedWith Nelson, William, 1847-1914. person
associatedWith New York (State) corporateBody
associatedWith New York (State). Commission for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies (1777-1778) corporateBody
associatedWith New York (State). Convention of Representatives (1776-1777) corporateBody
associatedWith New York (State). Court of Chancery. corporateBody
associatedWith New York (State). Supreme Court. corporateBody
associatedWith Peebles, Hugh. person
associatedWith Pennsylvania. Council of Safety. corporateBody
associatedWith Sackett family. family
associatedWith Sands, Comfort, person
associatedWith Schuyler, Philip John, 1733-1804. person
associatedWith Scioto Land Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Snell, Robert, fl. 1771-1774. person
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Spire, Nancy Woodson person
associatedWith Tilghman, Tench, 1744-1786. person
associatedWith United States. Army corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Board of Treasury. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Continental Army corporateBody
memberOf United States. Continental Congress corporateBody
associatedWith United States. District Court (New York : Southern District). corporateBody
associatedWith United States. District Court (Pennsylvania : Eastern District). corporateBody
associatedWith Varick, Richard, 1753-1831, person
associatedWith Walker, Benjamin, 1753-1818, person
associatedWith Walker, B., Esq, person
correspondedWith Washington, George, 1732-1799. person
associatedWith Willett, Marinus, 1740-1830. person
associatedWith Williams, John, 1752-1806. person
associatedWith Wilson, James, 1742-1798. person
associatedWith Wooster, David, 1711-1777. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Devon ENG GB
Fort Miller NY US
Paterson NJ US
Antigua and Barbuda 00 AG
Fishkill NY US
Berkshire ENG GB
Dominica 00 DM
New York City NY US
Subject
Land settlement
Lumber trade
Jails
Finance
Real estate investment
Sawmills
Distilleries
Land companies
Debt, imprisonment for
Speculation
American loyalists
Occupation
Mill owners
Jurists
Army officers
Delegates, U.S. Continental Congress--New York (State)
Financiers
Federal Government Official
Planter
Activity

Person

Birth 1747-03-18

Death 1799-04-18

Male

Britons,

Americans

English

Information

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