John Langdon
John langdon.jpg
2nd President of New Hampshire and 3rd Governor of New Hampshire
In office
June 5, 1810 as Governor – June 5, 1812
Preceded byJeremiah Smith
Succeeded byWilliam Plumer
In office
June 6, 1805 as Governor – June 8, 1809
Preceded byJohn Taylor Gilman
Succeeded byJeremiah Smith
In office
June 4, 1788 as President – January 22, 1789
Preceded byJohn Sullivan
Succeeded byJohn Sullivan
In office
June 1, 1785 as President – June 7, 1786
Preceded byMeshech Weare
Succeeded byJohn Sullivan
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
November 5, 1792 – December 2, 1793
Preceded byRichard Henry Lee
Succeeded byRalph Izard
In office
April 6, 1789 – August 9, 1789
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byRichard Henry Lee
United States Senator
from New Hampshire
In office
March 4, 1789 – March 3, 1801
Preceded bySeat established
Succeeded byJames Sheafe
Personal details
Born(1741-06-26)June 26, 1741
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, British America
DiedSeptember 18, 1819(1819-09-18) (aged 78)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S.
Political partyPro-Administration

John Langdon (June 26, 1741 – September 18, 1819) was a politician from New Hampshire, and a Founding Father of the United States. He served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, signed the United States Constitution, and was one of the first two United States senators from New Hampshire.

As a member of the Continental Congress, Langdon was an early supporter of the Revolutionary War. He later served in United States Congress for 12 years, including as the first president pro tempore of the Senate, before becoming president and later governor of New Hampshire. He turned down a nomination for U.S. vice presidential candidate in 1812.

Early life

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Langdon's father was a prosperous farmer and local shipbuilder whose family had emigrated to America before 1660 from Sheviock, Caradon, Cornwall. The Langdons were among the first t one of New England 's major seaports. Langdon attended the local grammar school run by a veteran of the 1745 Siege of Louisbourg against the French at Fortress of Louisbourg in New France. After finishing his primary education, he and his older brother, Woodbury Langdon, rejected the opportunity to join in their father's successful agricultural livelihood and apprenticed themselves to local naval merchants.

By age 22, Langdon was captain of the cargo ship Andromache, sailing to the West Indies. Four years later he owned his first merchantman and would continue over time to acquire a small fleet of vessels engaging in the triangle trade between Portsmouth, the Caribbean, and London. His older brother was even more successful in international trade, and by 1777 both young men were among Portsmouth's wealthiest citizens.

American Revolution

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British control of the shipping industries limited Langdon's business, motivating him to become a vigorous and prominent supporter of the revolutionary movement in the 1770s. He served on the New Hampshire committee of correspondence and a nonimportation committee and also attended various Patriot assemblies. In 1774, he participated in the seizure and confiscation of British munitions from Fort William and Mary.

Langdon served as a member of the Second Continental Congress from 1775 to 1776, serving as a member of the Marine Committee. He was one of the signatories of the U.S. Constitution. He resigned from the Congress in June 1776 to become an agent for the Continental forces against the British and superintended the construction of several warships including the Raleigh, the America, and the Ranger. In 1777, he equipped an expedition against the British, participating in the Battle of Bennington and commanding Langdon's Company of Light Horse Volunteers at Saratoga and in Rhode Island.

Political career

Governor John Langdon House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Governor John Langdon House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

In 1784, he built at Portsmouth the mansion now known as the Governor John Langdon House. Langdon was elected to two terms as president of New Hampshire, once between 1785 and 1786 and again between 1788 and 1789. He was a member of the Congress of the Confederation in 1787 and became president of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, serving as a member of the New Hampshire delegation. Langdon was elected to the U.S. Senate and served from March 4, 1789, to March 3, 1801. He was elected the first president pro tempore of the Senate on April 6, 1789, and also served as president pro tempore during the Second Congress.

During the 1787 constitutional debates in Philadelphia, Langdon spoke out against James Madison's proposed "negative" on state laws simply because he felt that should the Senate be granted this power and not the House of Representatives, it would "hurt the feelings" of House members.[1][dubious ] Langdon was an ardent supporter of the drive to ratify the Constitution of the United States in New Hampshire. On June 21, 1788, it was ratified by New Hampshire by a vote of 57-47. He immediately wrote to George Washington to inform him that New Hampshire had become the ninth state which he described as the "Key Stone in the Great Arch. Joshua Atherton, who campaigned against ratification, accepted the result and stated, "It's adopted. Let’s try it”.[2]

In April 1789 Langdon served as president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, prior to John Adams' election as vice president, and counted the votes of the electoral college in the first presidential election.

In 1798, Langdon assisted Oney Judge to evade Burwell Bassett, the nephew of George and Martha Washington, who had intended to kidnap Judge and return her to slavery with the Washingtons.[3]

Langdon served as a member of the New Hampshire Legislature (1801–05), with the last two terms as speaker; he served as governor of New Hampshire from 1805 to 1812, except for a year between 1809 and 1810. In 1808, his niece, Catherine Whipple Langdon, married Edmund Roberts.[4] Langdon declined the nomination to be a candidate for vice president with James Madison in 1812.[citation needed]

Death and legacy

Langdon died in Portsmouth in 1819 and was interred at the Langdon Tomb in the North Cemetery.[5] The town of Langdon, New Hampshire, is named after him,[6] as is Langdon Street in Madison, Wisconsin, a city with numerous streets named after Founding Fathers.[7]

See also


  1. ^ "Avalon Project – Madison Debates – July 10". Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  2. ^ "A New Constitution for a New Nation, June, 6". Nashua Telegraph. 1988.
  3. ^ Eva Gerson, "Ona Judge Staines: Escape from Washington" Archived May 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2000, Black History, SeacoastNH
  4. ^ "Calvin Howard Bell Family". extract from Bell Family History. Access Genealogy. April 23, 2012. Archived from the original on November 4, 2011. Retrieved April 19, 2012. Judge Woodbury Langdon, of Portsmouth, N. H.; Delegate to the Continental Congress, 1779; President of N. H. Senate, 1784; Judge of the Superior Court of N. H., 1782–91....(a) Catherine Whipple Langdon: m. 1808, Edmund Roberts, of Portsmouth, N. H.
  5. ^ "North Cemetery - Portsmouth, NH". Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  6. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 181.
  7. ^ "Wisconsin Historical Society". Retrieved July 30, 2016.


Political offices Preceded byMeshech Weare Governor of New Hampshire 1785–1786 Succeeded byJohn Sullivan Preceded byJohn Sullivan Governor of New Hampshire 1788–1789 Preceded byJohn Taylor Gilman Governor of New Hampshire 1805–1809 Succeeded byJeremiah Smith Preceded byJeremiah Smith Governor of New Hampshire 1810–1812 Succeeded byWilliam Plumer New office President pro tempore of the United States Senate 1789 Succeeded byRichard Henry Lee Preceded byRichard Henry Lee President pro tempore of the United States Senate 1792–1793 Succeeded byRalph Izard U.S. Senate New seat U.S. senator (Class 1) from New Hampshire 1789–1801 Served alongside: Paine Wingate, Samuel Livermore Succeeded byJames Sheafe Party political offices Preceded byTimothy Walker Democratic-Republican nominee for Governor of New Hampshire 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808, 1809, 1810, 1811 Succeeded byWilliam Plumer Preceded byGeorge Clinton Democratic-Republican nominee for Vice President of the United StatesWithdrew 1812 Succeeded byElbridge Gerry