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John Lansing Jr.

john lansing jr constitutional convention, john lansing jr biography
John Ten Eyck Lansing Jr January 30, 1754 – vanished December 12, 1829 was an American lawyer and politician12


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Personal life
    • 31 Disappearance
    • 32 Legacy
  • 4 See also
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 Sources

Early lifeedit

John Ten Eyck Lansing Jr was born on January 30, 1754, in Albany, New York He was the son of Gerrit Jacob Lansing b 1711 and Jannetje "Jane" née Waters Lansing 1728–18103 His younger brother was Abraham Gerritse Lansing 1756–1834, New York State Treasurer who married Susanna Yates, the daughter of Abraham Yates3 Another brother, Sanders G Lansing 1766–1850 married Catherine Ten Eyck 1769–1850, daughter of Abraham Ten Eyck 1744–1824 and Annatje née Lansing Ten Eyck 1746–18234

Through his brother Abraham, he was the uncle of Gerrit Yates Lansing 1783–1862, a member of the US House of Representatives,3 and Susan Yates Lansing 1804–1874, who was the second wife of Peter Gansevoort 1788–1876, son of Gen Peter Gansevoort5 Through his brother Sanders, he was the uncle of Robert Lansing 1799–1878, a New York State Senator and the grandfather of US Secretary of State Robert Lansing3


Lansing studied law with Robert Yates in Albany, New York, and was admitted to practice in 17756 From 1776 until 1777 during the Revolutionary War Lansing served as a military secretary to General Philip Schuyler7 Afterwards he was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1780 to 1784, in 1785-86, and 1788–89, being its Speaker during the latter two terms He served New York as a member of the Confederation Congress in 178589

In 1786, he was appointed Mayor of Albany He represented New York as one of three representatives at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 His intentions at the convention were to follow the wishes of the New York Legislature which had elected him to attend He was authorized only to amend the existing Articles of Confederation As the convention progressed, Lansing became disillusioned because he believed it was exceeding its instructions Lansing believed the delegates had gathered together simply to amend the Articles of Confederation and was dismayed at the movement to write an entirely new constitution His desire was to see the Articles strengthened giving it a source of revenue, the power to regulate commerce, and to enforce treaties He joined other prominent Anti-Federalists that strongly opposed Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, and James Madison's notions of a strong centralized national government to replace the Articles7

He, Luther Martin of Maryland, George Mason of Virginia, and Robert Yates also of New York strongly opposed the newly proposed United States Constitution because they thought it was fundamentally flawed and should be rejected because it infringed on the sovereignty of the independent States and did not do enough to guarantee individual liberty8 Both he and Robert Yates walked out after 6 weeks and explained their departure in a joint letter to New York Governor George Clinton7 Lansing and Yates never signed the constitution At the New York Ratifying Convention that followed, he along with Melancton Smith took the lead in the debates as the leaders of the Anti-Federalist majority Their attempts to prevent ratification ultimately failed by a narrow vote of 30 to 27

Lansing was appointed a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court in 1790 and on 15 February 1798 he was elevated to the post Chief Justice8 In 1801, he also became the second Chancellor of New York, succeeding Robert R Livingston In 1814 he became a regent of the University of New York10

Personal lifeedit

In 1781, Lansing was married to Cornelia Ray 1757–1834, daughter of Robert Ray and Sarah née Bogart Ray of New York City711 Together, they were the parents of ten children, five of whom died young Their children included:7

  • Jane Lansing 1785–1871, who married Rensselaer Westerlo 1776–1851 in 1805 He was the son of Eilardus Westerlo and Catherine Livingston, herself the daughter of Philip Livingston and the widow of Stephen Van Rensselaer II
  • Frances Lansing 1791–1855, who married Jacob Livingston Sutherland 1788–1845 in 181112
  • Cornelia Lansing 1795–1877
  • Sarah Ray Lansing 1797–1848, who married Edward Livingston 1796–1840 in 1819813

His widow died in January 1834 and is buried at Albany Rural Cemetery8


On the evening of December 12, 1829, he left his Manhattan hotel to mail a letter at a dock in New York City, never to be seen again7 Lansing was 75 years old and was presumed drowned or perhaps murdered, his body never recovered

His fate was a major mystery in New York State at the time, rivaled only by the disappearance of William Morgan, the anti-Mason writer, in 1826 in upstate New York In the last century it has become less publicized since the disappearance of New York State Justice Joseph Force Crater in 1930 Only one major clue to Lansing's disappearance has appeared since his death In 1882 the memoirs of Thurlow Weed, former Republican political leader in New York State, were published by Weed's grandson T W Barnes Weed wrote that Lansing was murdered by several prominent political and social figures who found he was in the way of their projects1

Weed's unnamed source showed him papers to prove it, but begged Weed not to publish them until all the individuals had died Weed said they were all dead by 1870, but did not wish to harm their respected family reputations, and upon advice of two friends he decided not to reveal the truth This was the last hypothesis proffered to resolve the mystery


The town of Lansing in New York was named after John Lansing Lansing, Michigan, was named by settlers who came from Lansing, New York14

See alsoedit

  • List of mayors of Albany, New York
  • List of people who disappeared mysteriously


  1. ^ a b "John Lansing, Jr Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, 1790-1798 Chief Justice, 1798-1801" nycourtsgov Retrieved 28 August 2017 
  2. ^ "LANSING, John, Jr - Biographical Information" bioguidecongressgov Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved 28 August 2017 
  3. ^ a b c d Munsell, Claude Garfield 1916 The Lansing Family A Genealogy of the Descendants of Gerritt Frederickse Lansing Who Came to America From Hasselt, Province of Overijssell, Holland, 1640 Eight Generations New York: Privare print Retrieved 28 August 2017 
  4. ^ Bielinski, Stefan "Gerrit Yates Lansing" exhibitionsnysmnysedgov New York State Museum Retrieved 14 August 2017 
  5. ^ "OBITUARY; MR JAMES F PENNIMAN PETER GANSEVOORT OBITUARY NOTE" The New York Times January 8, 1876 Retrieved 8 April 2017 
  6. ^ "John Lansing Jr Manuscripts Collection" Finding aid to the Lansing collection at the New York State Library New York State Library Retrieved 9 December 2011 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "America's Founding Documents" archivesgov National Archives 30 October 2015 Retrieved 28 August 2017 
  8. ^ a b c d e Talcott, Sebastian V October 1, 2001 Genealogical Notes Of New York And New England Families Heritage Books pp 146–147 ISBN 9780788419560 Retrieved 18 May 2017 
  9. ^ "Lansing, John" wwwencyclopediacom Columbia University Press Retrieved 28 August 2017 
  10. ^ Bielinski, Stefan "John Lansing, Jr" exhibitionsnysmnysedgov New York State Museum Retrieved 28 August 2017 
  11. ^ Sullivan, Robert G; Reynolds, Cuyler 1911 Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs: Lansing, Vol I, pp 72-74 Retrieved 28 August 2017 
  12. ^ Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York 1905 The Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York: History, Customs, Record of Events, Constitution, Certain Genealogies, and Other Matters of Interest V 1- The Society Retrieved 28 August 2017 
  13. ^ Times, Special To The New York 5 August 1935 "NOTES OF 1787 CITE STATES' RIGHT FEAR; Records Just Brought to Light at Princeton Show Trends at Constitutional Parley" The New York Times Retrieved 18 May 2017 
  14. ^ "John Lansing, Jr" wwwnewnetherlandinstituteorg New Netherland Institute Retrieved 28 August 2017 


  • United States Congress "John Lansing Jr id: L000087" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 
  • Several Bios
  • Lansing Family Tree
  • Bio at the NARA
  • John Lansing Jr biography
  • Edmund Pearson Instigation of the Devil New York, London: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1930, Chapter XXIII: A Rather Mysterious Chancellor, p 277–287, 355
  • Pauline Maier, Ratification, The People Debate the Constitution 1787-1788, New York, London, Toronto, Sydney:Simon & Schuster, 2010 p 35, 47, 90-93, 325–326, 367, 375, 396, 398
Political offices
Preceded by
David Gelston
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
Richard Varick
Preceded by
Richard Varick
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
Gulian Verplanck
Legal offices
Preceded by
Robert R Livingston
Chancellor of New York
Succeeded by
James Kent

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