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Jonathan Dayton

In office
December 7, 1795 – March 4, 1799
President George Washington
John Adams
Preceded by Frederick Muhlenberg
Succeeded by Theodore Sedgwick

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's At-large district
In office
March 4, 1791 – March 3, 1799
Preceded by James Schureman
Elias Boudinot
Succeeded by Mark Thomson
John Condit

In office
March 4, 1799 – March 3, 1805
Preceded by Richard Stockton
Succeeded by Aaron Kitchell

Born October 16, 1760 (1760-10-16)
Elizabethtown, New Jersey
Died October 9, 1824 (1824-10-10) (aged 63)
Elizabethtown, New Jersey
Political party Pro-Administration
Spouse(s) Susan Williamson
Alma mater College of New Jersey
Profession Law
Religion Presbyterian

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 the fourth Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and later the U.S. Senate. Dayton was arrested in 1807 for treason in connection with Aaron Burr's conspiracy, he was never put on trial, but his national political career never recovered.

Dayton was born in Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth) in New Jersey. He was the son of Elias Dayton, a merchant who was prominent in local politics. He graduated in 1776 from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). During the Revolutionary War Dayton served under his father in the 3rd New Jersey Regiment and attained the rank of captain by the age of 19.

After the war, Dayton studied law and established a practice, dividing his time between land speculation, law, and politics. After serving as a delegate to the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention (of which he was the youngest member, at the age of 26[1]), he became a prominent Federalist legislator. He was a member of the New Jersey General Assembly from 1786–1787, and again in 1790, and served in the New Jersey State Council (now the New Jersey Senate) in 1790.

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

Dayton met with Aaron Burr in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and became involved in a "conspiracy" in which Burr later had been accused of intending to conquer parts of what is now the western United States. (This was never proven.) An illness prevented Dayton from accompanying Burr's aborted 1806 expedition, but in 1807 Dayton was arrested for treason. He was released and never brought to trial but his national political career never recovered.

He married Susan Williamson and had two daughters but their marriage date is unknown.

After resuming his political career in New Jersey, he died in 1824 in his hometown and was interred in an unmarked grave now under the present St. John's Episcopal Church in Elizabeth which replaced the original church in 1860.


Dayton, Ohio

The city of Dayton, Ohio, was named after Jonathan Dayton. While he never set foot in the area, he was a signatory to the constitution and, at the time the city was established in 1796, he owned (in partnership with Arthur St. Clair, James Wilkinson and Israel Ludlow) 250,000 acres (1,011 km²) in the Great Miami River basin. [2][3].


The Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield Township, Union County, New Jersey and the Dayton neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey are named in his honor.

Political career


  1. ^ Abeka United States History: Heritage of Freedom, page 126
  2. ^ Brief History of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio. Accessed January 13, 2010.
  3. ^ Important Daytonians, Preservation Dayton. Accessed January 13, 2010.

External links



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