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Langdon, John

LANGDON, JOHN (1741-1819), American statesman, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the 25th of June 1741. After an apprenticeship in a counting-house, he led a seafaring life for several years, and became a shipowner and merchant. In December 1774, as a militia captain he assisted in the capture of Fort William and Mary at New Castle, New Hampshire, one of the first overt acts of the American colonists against the property of the crown. He was elected to the House of Representatives of the last Royal Assembly of New Hampshire and then to the second Continental Congress in 1775, and was a member of the first Naval Committee of the latter, but he resigned in 1776, and in June 1776 became Congress's agent of prizes in New Hampshire and in 1778 continental (naval) agent of Congress in this state, where he supervised the building of John Paul Jones's "Ranger" (completed in June 1777), the " America," launched in 1782, and other vessels. He was a judge of the New Hampshire Court of Common Pleas in 1776- 1777, a member (and speaker) of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1776 until 1782, a member of the state Constitutional Convention of 1778 and of the state Senate in 1784-1785, and in 1783-1784 was again a member of Congress. He contributed largely to raise troops in 1777 to meet Burgoyne; and he served as a captain at Bennington and at Saratoga. He was president of New Hampshire in 1785-1786 andin 1788-1789; a member of the Federal Constitutional Convention in 1787, where he voted against granting to Congress the power of issuing paper money; a member of the state convention which ratified the Federal Constitution for New Hampshire; a member of the United States Senate in 1789-1801, and its president pro tern, during the first Congress and the second session of the second Congress; a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1801-1805 an( l i ts speaker in 1803-1805; and governor of the state in 1805-1809 and in 1810-1812. He received nine electoral votes for the vice-presidency in 1808, and in 1812 was an elector on the Madison ticket. He died in Portsmouth on the 18th of September 1819. He was an able leader during the Revolutionary period, when his wealth and social position were of great assistance to the patriot party. In the later years of his life in New Hampshire he was the most prominent of the local Republican leaders and built up his party by partisan appointments. He refused the naval portfolio in Jefferson's cabinet.

His elder brother, WOODBURY LANGDON (1739-1805), was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1770-1780, a member of the executive council of New Hampshire in 1781-1784, judge of the Supreme Court of the state in 1782 and in 1786-1790 (although he had had no legal training), and a state senator in 1784-1785.

Alfred Langdon Elwyn has edited Letters by Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Others, Written During and After the Revolution, to John Langdon of New Hampshire (Philadelphia, 1880), a book of great interest and value. See a biographical sketch of John Langdon by Charles R. Corning in the New England Magazine, vol. xxii. (Boston, 1897).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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