This site will be decommissioned on Wednes day, April 19, 2023. You will be redirected to f

George Clinton papers (1697-1760, bulk 1745-1753)


George Clinton (1686-1761), British naval officer and colonial governor of Newfoundland and New York, was born in Lincolnshire, England, to Francis Clinton, sixth earl of Lincoln, and Susanna Penyston. Clinton served for 35 years in the Royal Navy, entering in 1708 and becoming a captain in 1716. Through a familial connection with Thomas Pelham-Holles, first duke of Newcastle, he secured various high-ranking positions, such as governor of Newfoundland (1731), commodore of the Mediterranean Fleet (1736-1738), and rear admiral (1743). Also through Newcastle, Clinton obtained the governorship of New York in 1741, but did not arrive in the province until 1743. Allying himself with Chief Justice James DeLancey (1703-1760), Clinton pitted himself against the New York Assembly over matters of military control, governor's pay, and political appointments. Clinton dissolved the assembly in 1745 and 1747 and but in both cases the people of New York reelected opposition assembly members. In 1746, after a drunken dispute over military policy, Clinton cut ties with DeLancey and turned to Cadwallader Colden for counsel.

During the war with France (King George's War, 1744-1748) Clinton appointed William Johnson (1715-1774) to manage Colonial-Indian relations, and recruited the Six Nations tribes to join British forces against the French in Canada. Clinton failed to organize the New York Assembly behind the expedition and without the support of the British Army, the Indian and colonial forces abandoned the attack. After the war, Clinton focused his attentions on his conflicts with the Assembly over constitutional issues and Indian relations, and on boarder disputes with New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. In 1753, Sir Danvers Osborn took over the New York governorship. Clinton returned to England and represented Saltash in Parliament from 1754 to 1760.

Clinton was perpetually in debt and never found enough success in his naval and political appointments to escape financial ruin. Clinton married Anne Carle around 1727. They had six children, including Sir Henry Clinton (1730-1795), who became commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America during the Revolution. George Clinton died in 1761.