For many generations the name of Clinton has been a name for New York State to conjure with. The public achievements of George Clinton and his fame as a farseeing statesman have been somewhat obscured by the later brilliancy of DeWitt Clinton, of the same clan. George Clinton was born on July 26, 1739, in what is now the Town of New Windsor, Orange County, N. Y. He was the youngest son of Charles Clinton, who came from the North of Ireland. He was born in 1690 and died in Orange County in 1773.
It should be stated by way of explanation regarding the birthplace of George Clinton, that he was born in what was then the County of Ulster, but his life work and political associations were confined largely to this county. In the year 1797 Orange County included the present county of Rockland, its northern boundary extending only as far as Murderer’s Creek. In that year, what is now Rockland County, was detached, and five towns then in Ulster County, viz, New Windsor, New burgh, Wallkill, Montgomery and Deerpark were annexed to Orange County, whereby Orange County acquired its present dimensions. George Clinton resided at New Windsor and the house in which he lived is still in existence.
His first noteworthy adventure was connected with privateering in the French war of 1763. He was an officer in the expedition against Fort Frontenac, and after the war went into law and politics. He was chosen to the Colonial Assembly and to the Continental Congress and was made a Brigadier General in the Revolutionary Army. In 1777 he was elected first Governor of the State of New York. He was reelected and occupied the executive chair in all for eighteen successive years, and in 1800 was chosen for one more term, making twenty-one years as Governor. In 1804 he was elected Vice-President of the United States, holding the office until his death, as he was reelected in 1808, when Madison was elected President. He died in Washington in the year 1812, aged 73 years.
Under his leadership the state’s commercial interests were jealously guarded. It is stated by a well informed authority that the vast project of the Erie Canal, Which was carried out by DeWitt Clinton, had its inception in the fertile brain of George Clinton, who, as a member of a distinguished party which included President Washington and Alexander Hamilton, toured the northern and western parts of the state in 1780, investigating economic conditions.