Jonathan Dayton (1760-1824)
-- Early U.S. politician for whom the City of Dayton was named

  At 26, Jonathan Dayton was the youngest signer of the U.S. Constitution. A veteran of the Revolutionary War he was a member of the Constitutional Convention and the Continental Congress. He served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1791-99, and became Speaker of theHouse in 1795. He later served a term in the Senate, 1799 to 1805.
    Dayton's political future, however, was ruined by his association with Aaron Burr, who's scheme to form a Western empire separate from the Union led to the downfall of both men. Dayton was indicted for treason, but never prosecuted.
  Jonathan Dayton's connection to the city of Dayton, founded in 1796, is based on his business ventures in land speculating. He bought 248,540 acres in the Miami Valley and founders of the town chose his name though there is no record he ever visited.
  For more on the life of Jonathan Dayton, see "Tracing Dayton's roots back to New Jersey," a biographical profile of Dayton by Ben Kline, published in the Dayton Daily News on Jan. 7, 1996.

Born: Oct. 16, 1760, at Elizabeth(town), N.J.
Died: Oct. 9, 1824, at Elizabeth.
Politics: Federalist. Favored strong central government and professional Army and Navy. Worked to protect rights of small states like Jersey.
Claim to Fame: Youngest signer of the Constitution, Sept. 17, 1787. He was 26.
Pals: Alexander Hamilton, Matthias Ogden, Aaron Burr, childhood friends and Princeton classmates from Elizabeth. Also a friend of James Madison, Princeton class of 1771. Later hooked up with John Cleves Symmes, a West Jersey judge who founded Cincinnati but ended up broke.
Veteran: Enlisted Feb. 7, 1776, in the 3rd New Jersey Regiment of the Continental Line. Served eight years, rising to captain of Jersey Brigade. Participated in Mohawk Valley campaign, Battles of Brandywine and Germantown; Valley Forge; Springfield; Yorktown. Was British P.O.W. winter of 1780-81. Discharged Nov. 2, 1783. Appointed brigadier general by President John Adams in 1799, but did no further service. Was called `General Dayton' in later years.
Statesman: Served in Jersey state legislature. Youngest of 55 delegates to Constitutional Convention. Member of Continental Congress. Speaker of Jersey house. Served in U.S. House, four terms, 1791-99. Became Speaker of theU.S. House Dec. 7, 1795, in the fourth Congress. Served one term U.S. Senate, 1799 to 1805.
Land Speculator: Purchased 248,540 acres between the Miami Rivers in Ohio; 60,000 acres in upstate New York.
Indicted for high treason and misdemeanor, June 25, 1807, in connection with Aaron Burr's scheme to form a western empire. Not prosecuted, but political career was ruined.
Religion: Presbyterian. Member and trustee of Old First Church, Elizabeth, founded in 1664. Later attended and was buried at St. John's Episcopal, founded 1706, because Susan Dayton was a member there.
Character: ``A figure of commanding mediocrity,'' as Speaker of the House. ``A man of great rectitude, with an impetuosity that sometimes does himharm.''
Appearance: About 5 feet 8, with slim figure. Sharp, hawklike nose giving stern countenance. Usually wore powdered wig. Grandson of a tailor; very dressy.
Buried: Beneath St. John's Episcopal Church.
Quote: ``Each individual takes a different route to happiness; and being the best judge of his own case, has a right to do so. One mode of living and one system of pursuits will not produce every man's happiness.''
Compiled by Ben Kline; SOURCES: Dayton-Montgomery County Public Library; New Jersey and Princeton University archives; Boxwood Hall records.
File created: 1-29-96