J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, May 02, 2011

George Clinton and Voices for the Nation

Early this year I spotted a magazine ad for George Clinton: Master Builder of the Empire State, by John K. Lee.

It’s a biography of the man who was a Revolutionary War general, the first governor of independent New York, and Vice President of the United States elected under both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

The book is all of 64 pages.

That’s because Clinton set the tradition of Vice Presidents being regional politicians whom Americans promptly forgot about. His predecessors in that office were John Adams, Jefferson, and Aaron Burr, all still recognizable names. George Clinton is also a fairly well known name today, but only because of another George Clinton.

Not coincidentally, Clinton was the first Vice President taking office under the Twelfth Amendment, which changed the procedure for national elections. That ensured that voters, electors, and occasionally Supreme Court justices would decide on Presidents and their Vice Presidents would tag along, no longer runners-up (like Jefferson) or potential rivals (like Burr) but mere adjuncts to the top of the ticket.

1 comment:

John L. Smith said...

A 64-page book? That's more like a hard-cover pamphlet.