Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824

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Jonathan Dayton (October 16, 1760 – October 9, 1824) was an American politician from the U.S. state of New Jersey. He was the youngest person to sign the United States Constitution and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving as its third Speaker, and later in the U.S. Senate. Dayton was arrested in 1807 for treason in connection with Aaron Burr's conspiracy. He was never tried, but his national political career never recovered.

Dayton was born in Elizabethtown (now known as Elizabeth), New Jersey. He was the son of Elias Dayton, a merchant who was prominent in local politics and had served as a militia officer in the French and Indian War and his wife the former Hannah Rolfe. He graduated from the local academy, run by Tapping Reeve and Francis Barber, where he was classmates with Alexander Hamilton. He then attended the College of New Jersey (now known as Princeton University). He left college in 1775 to fight in the Revolution, and received an honorary degree in 1776.

Dayton was 15 at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1775 and served under his father (Elias) in the 3rd New Jersey Regiment as an ensign. On January 1, 1777, he was commissioned a lieutenant and served as paymaster. He saw service under Washington, fighting in the battles of Brandywine Creek and Germantown. He remained with Washington at Valley Forge and helped push the British from their position in New Jersey into the safety of New York City. In October 1780, Dayton and an uncle were captured by Loyalists, who held them captive for the winter before releasing them in the following year. Dayton again served under his father in the New Jersey Brigade. On March 30, 1780, at age 19, he was promoted to the rank of captain and transferred to the 2nd New Jersey Regiment, where he took part in the Battle of Yorktown. The Revolutionary War pension records indicate that he served as Aide-de-Camp to General Sullivan on his expedition against the Indians from May 1 – November 30, 1779. On July 19, 1799, Dayton was offered a commission as Major General in the Provisional United States Army, but declined.

At the close of the Revolutionary War, Dayton became one of the founding members of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey.

After the war, Dayton studied law and created a practice, dividing his time between land speculation, law, and politics. After serving as a New Jersey delegate to the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention (of which he was the youngest member, at age 26), he became a prominent Federalist legislator. He was a member of the New Jersey General Assembly in 1786–1787, and again in 1790, and served in the New Jersey Legislative Council (now the New Jersey Senate) in 1789.

Dayton was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1789, but he did not take his seat until he was chosen again in 1791. He served as speaker for the Fourth and Fifth Congresses. Like most Federalists, he supported the fiscal policies of Alexander Hamilton, and he helped organize the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion. He supported the Louisiana Purchase and opposed the repeal of the Judiciary Act of 1801.

Wealthy from his heavy investments in Ohio, where the city of Dayton would later be named after him, Dayton lent money to Aaron Burr, becoming involved by association in the alleged conspiracy in which Burr was accused of intending to conquer parts of what is now the Southwestern United States. Dayton was exonerated, but his association with Burr effectively ended his political career.

Dayton married Susan Williamson and had two daughters. Susan's Revolutionary War Pension Application W.6994 states that the marriage occurred on March 28, 1779. A supporting letter, written by Aaron Ogden, a captain in the New Jersey Brigade, states that he "was present at the marriage of the said Jonathan Dayton and Susan his wife; which marriage ceremony was performed by the Reverent Mr. Hoyt, a Presbyterian Clergyman... in the fore part of spring of the year seventeen hundred and seventy nine (1779) while the New Jersey Brigade lay at Elizabethtown in the Borough of Elizabeth and state of new Jersey."

After resuming his political career in New Jersey, Dayton died on October 9, 1824, in his hometown. He was interred in an unmarked grave that is now under the St. John's Episcopal Church in Elizabeth, which replaced an original church in 1860.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Jonathan Dayton papers, 1788-1821. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Thomas Addis Emmet collection, 1483-1876 (bulk:1700-1800) New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf McHenry, James, 1753-1816. Letter, 1798 September 8. American Periodical Series I
creatorOf Van Schaack, Henry, 1733-1823. Henry Van Schaack papers, 1734-1896, bulk 1756-1809. Newberry Library
referencedIn Hopkinson family. Papers, 1735-1941 (bulk 1800-1841) Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Livingston, William, 1723-1790. DS : Elizabeth, N.J., 1787 Aug. 31. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Kean, Jefferson Randolph, 1860-1950. Papers of Jefferson Randolph Kean, 1765-1938. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Vance, Joseph, d. 1824. Papers. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
referencedIn George Washington papers, 1592-1943 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Ward, Silas, d. ca. 1862. Papers, 1810-1841 (inclusive) 1810-1825 (bulk). Rutgers University
referencedIn Southard Hay autograph collection, 1750-1885 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Badeau, Adam. Tucker-Ewell papers, 1770-1893, 1770-1818. Library of Virginia
referencedIn Washington Irving's Life of George Washington, Volume XII, Miscellany, 1769-1838. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. [Letter] 1804 Oct. 17, Elizabethtown, N.J. [to] Jonas Stanbery, New York / Jona. Dayton. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Tracy, Uriah, 1755-1807. Uriah Tracy correspondence, 1798 July 30. Library of Congress
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. ALS, 1782 June 8, Elizabeth Town, to Colonel Elias Dayton, Chatham. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Madison, James, 1751-1836. James Madison papers, 1808-1812. Library of Congress
referencedIn Clinton, DeWitt, 1769-1828. Quarrel between DeWitt Clinton and Jonathan Dayton : autograph letters and statement giving the history and settlement for averting a duel, 1803-1884. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Harrison, William Henry, 1773-1841. Letter: Vincennes, [Ind.], to [Jonathan] Dayton, Senate, United States, 1804 May 29. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Autograph signature, [n.d.]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Haga, Godfrey. Papers. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
referencedIn Washington Irving's Life of George Washington, Volume X, miscellany, 1764-1805. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Brown, John, 1757-1837. Colonel John Brown and Major General Preston Brown papers, 1763-1865 (inclusive), 1783-1841 (bulk). Yale University Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Autograph letter signed : (Senate Chamber, Washington), to De Witt Clinton, Monday noon (1803 Oct. 23). Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Jonathan Dayton correspondence, 1808. Library of Congress
referencedIn Livingston, J. Montgomery. [Conversation between Livingston and Aaron Ogden] 1815 December 28 [n.p.]. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Congregational Church (North Haven, Conn.). North Haven Congregational Church records, 1729-1818. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, 1709 - 1939. Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, 1894 - ca. 1912 National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
referencedIn General Records of the Department of State, 1763 - 2002. Letters Received, 1789 - 1906 National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. ALS, 1807 July 4 : Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to Gouverneur Morris. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Gibbons, Thomas, 1757-1826. [Facts in the case of Ogden vs. Gibbons] 1817 May 28 [n.p.]. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Letter, 1801 Jan. 16, Washington, D.C. [to] Aaron Ogden. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
creatorOf Beasley, Frederick, 1777-1845. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1809. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Gibbons, Thomas, 1757-1826. Brief; Ogden vs. Gibbons, 1822?, n.p. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Autograph letter signed : to Gen. Dayton, 1798 Jan. 9. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Autograph letters signed (2) : Elizabeth, New Jersey, to Col. Jonathan Rhea, 1807 Feb. 5 and 1808 Sept. 5. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Colonel John Brown and Major General Preston Brown papers, 1763-1865, 1763-1865 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Autograph File, D, 1586-1975. Houghton Library
referencedIn War of 1812 mss., 1776-1879 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Williams, Jonathan, 1750-1817. ALS : New York, to Jonathan Dayton, 1811 June 6. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Papers, 1789-1821. New Jersey Historical Society Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. ALS, 1781 June 8, Chatham, New Jersey, to Aaron Ogden, serving with the army under the orders of the Marquis de La Fayette. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Wilkinson, James, 1757-1825. Papers, 1784-1882. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Eastburn, Walter N.,. Collection, 1743-1956. New Jersey Historical Society Library
creatorOf Clark, Abraham, 1726-1794. Autograph letter signed : Elizabeth Town, to Hon. Jon. Dayton, 1790 Nov. 15. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Hay, Southard, 1875-1951,. Southard Hay autograph collection, 1750-1885 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Sullivant, Lucas, 1765-1823. Collection. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
referencedIn Ross, James, Esq. Correspondence, 1804. Clarke Historical Library
referencedIn George Washington papers, 1592-1943 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Putnam, Rufus, 1738-1824. Papers of Rufus Putnam, 1781-1801. Library of Congress
referencedIn Gibbons family. Papers, 1767-1897. Rutgers University
creatorOf Livingston, William, 1723-1790. ALS, 1782 July 12 : to Trenton, to Captain Jonathan Dayton. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Papers. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Papers, 1783-1819 (inclusive). Rutgers University
referencedIn Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 - 2007. Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, ca. 1800 - ca. 1912 National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
referencedIn Ogden, Aaron, 1756-1839. Papers, 1783-1833. Rutgers University
referencedIn Ogden, Aaron, 1756-1839. Papers, 1783-1833 (inclusive). Rutgers University
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Autograph letter signed : [Senate chamber, Washington], to De Witt Clinton, [1803 Oct. 23] Monday noon. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Elizabethtown Library Company (N.J.). Elizabethtown Library Company records, 1792-1812. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Washington, George, 1732-1799. George Washington papers, 1592-1937 (bulk 1748-1799). Library of Congress
referencedIn Symmes, John Cleves, 1780-1829. Draper manuscripts: John Cleves Symmes papers, 1791-1846. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Boudinot, Elias, 1740-1821. Papers of the Nourse family [manuscript], 1760-1862. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Gibbons family. Gibbons family papers, 1811-1856. New Jersey Historical Society Library
creatorOf Ely, Edwin A., 1836-1927,. Autograph collection, ca. 1663-1890. New Jersey Historical Society Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Autograph letter signed : Philadelphia, to his father, Genl. Elias Dayton, 1792 Mar. 15. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library
creatorOf Dayton Jonathan, 1760-1824. Letters to Aaron Burr, ca. 1806. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Washington Irving's Life of George Washington, Volume XII, Miscellany, 1769-1838. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. ALS, 1792 Nov. 11, Philadelphia, to Gen. Elias Dayton. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Dayton, Jonathan, 1760-1824. Papers, 1783-1819. Rutgers University
referencedIn Congregational Church (North Haven, Conn.). North Haven Congregational Church records, 1729-1818. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Arnold, Benedict, 1741-1801. person
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associatedWith Cox, Richard person
associatedWith Cox, Richard. person
associatedWith Crane, Jonathan, of Elizabeth, N.J. person
associatedWith Crane, William, 1748-1814 person
associatedWith Dayton, Aaron Ogden, 1796-1858. person
childOf Dayton, Elias, 1737-1807. person
associatedWith Dayton, Ezra F. person
associatedWith Dayton, Gen, person
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associatedWith Eastburn, Walter N., person
associatedWith Elizabethtown Library Company (N.J.) corporateBody
associatedWith Elmer, Ebenezer, 1752-1843. person
associatedWith Elmer, Jonathan, 1745-1817 person
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memberOf New Jersey. State Legislature. General Assembly. corporateBody
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associatedWith Rhea, Jonathan. person
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associatedWith Williams, Jonathan, 1750-1817. person
associatedWith Wood, Mary Spencer, person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Elizabeth NJ US
Philadelphia PA US
Elizabeth NJ US
District of Columbia DC US
Subject
Burr Conspiracy, 1805-1807
Occupation
Lawyers
Soldiers
Speakers of the House, U.S. Congress
Senators, U.S. Congress--New Jersey
Legislators--United States
Representatives, U.S. Congress--New Jersey
Delegates, U.S. Continental Congress--New Jersey
Activity

Person

Birth 1760-10-16

Death 1824-10-09

Male

Americans

English

Information

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