Jonathan Dayton (1760-1824)
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.