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James Duane: Wikis


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James Duane

In office
1784 – 1789
Preceded by David Mathews
Succeeded by Richard Varick

In office
September 26, 1789 – March 17, 1794
Succeeded by John Laurance

Born February 6, 1733
New York, NY
Died February 1, 1797
Schenectady County, New York
Resting place Christ Church in Duanesburg, NY
42°46′08″N 74°09′19″W / 42.768959°N 74.155167°W / 42.768959; -74.155167
Spouse(s) Mary Livingston[1]
Relations Grandfather of James Chatham Duane
Children James Chatham Duane
Mary Duane
Adelia Duane

James Duane (February 6, 1733 – February 1, 1797) was a lawyer, jurist, and Revolutionary leader from New York. He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress, New York state senator, Mayor of New York, and a U.S. District Judge.


Family and early career

James was the son of an immigrant. His father, Anthony Duane (c. 1679-1747), was from County Galway in Ireland and first came to New York as an officer of the Royal Navy in 1698. He met and courted Eva Benson, whose father, Dirck, was a local merchant. In 1702 Anthony left the navy, settled in New York, and married Eva. They had two sons before her death. When Eva died, Anthony remarried, this time to Althea Ketaltas the daughter of another merchant family. Anthony entered commerce and prospered, and the couple had a son, James.

James's mother, Althea died in 1736, and his father died in 1747. The young James became the ward of Robert Livingston, who was known as the 3rd Lord of the Manor. He completed his early education at Livingston Manor, then read law in the offices of James Alexander. He was admitted to the bar in 1754. Then on October 21, 1759, James married Maria Livingston, the eldest daughter of his former guardian Robert.[2] He was Clerk of the Chancery Court of New York in 1762, provincial Attorney General in 1767 and Indian commissioner for the Province of New York in 1774.

American revolution

Duane was a member of the Committee of Sixty that began the revolution in New York. He was made a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1774, and was continuously re-appointed through 1784, although he missed some sessions due to other duties. In the early congress, he was one of those most disposed to reconciliation with Britain. He supported the Galloway Plan, as an alternative to pressures that led to independence.

In 1775 he represented to Congress as an Indian commissioner at Albany, New York. In 1776-1777 he attended the convention which adopted a constitution for the state of New York, and served on the committee that drafted that constitution. In 1778 he signed the Articles of Confederation in Philadelphia.

When the British occupied New York in 1776, he was forced from his home. He withdrew his wife and family to the relative safety of her father's home at Livingston Manor. He remained active as a political leader throughout the war, and returned home to Gramercy Park in 1783.

Later years

Duane served in the New York state Senate from 1783 to 1790. He became the Mayor of New York by appointment in 1784, serving until 1789. He was a delegate to the New York convention that ratified the Federal Constitution. In 1789, President Washington named him the first judge of the United States District Court for New York. Richard Varick followed him as mayor.

Duane served on the Federal bench until March 17, 1794, when his health forced him to resign. Throughout his life, he had worked to establish his own estate, inherited from his father, and centered at Duanesburg, New York. He had started erecting a home there for himself, but did not live to see it completed. He died at Schenectady, New York, and is buried at Christ Episcopal Church in Duanesburg.

It is believed that Duane Street in Manhattan was named in his honor, part of the namesake of the Duane Reade pharmacy chain.


James Duane was portrayed by Ed Jewett in the 2008 H.B.O. John Adams (miniseries). He was featured in Part 2: Independence.


External links

Further reading

  • Edward Alexander, Revolutionary Conservative: James Duane of New York; 1978, AMS Press, New York, ISBN 0-404-00321-4.
Preceded by
David Mathews
Mayor of New York
Succeeded by
Richard Varick


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