John Langdon, signer of the Constitution of the
was a politician and one of the first two United
States Senators from . He served in the Continental Congress and was
an early supporter of the Revolutionary War.
He served as the first president pro tempore of the Senate after serving
in that body for twelve years. He served
as governor of New Hampshire
and turned down a nomination to be a candidate for vice president in the
election of 1812. New Hampshire
Langdon's father was a prosperous farmer and local politician. His ancestors left Sheviock, Caradon,
Cornwall before 1660 to come
to America where they became
some of the first settlers of the area that would become Portsmouth,
New Hampshire; this settlement was located
near the mouth of Piscataqua River and became one of the major seaports in New England.
John Langdon was born June 26, 1741, in
, and attended a local grammar school. He later served an apprenticeship as a
clerk. Instead of joining their father
in agricultural pursuits, John and his brother Woodbury apprenticed themselves
to local naval merchants and sent to sea.
John was the captain of a cargo ship - Andromache, which sailed to the Portsmouth, New
Hampshire West Indies,
by the time he was 22 years old. He
owned his first merchantman four years later and continued acquiring vessels
until he owned a "small fleet."
His brother was even "more successful in international trade,"
and the brothers were among 's
"wealthiest citizens" by 1777. Portsmouth
Because Langdon was involved in the shipping industries, his business suffered under British controls. This fact motivated him to join the revolutionary movement in the 1770s. He was active as a member of the New Hampshire Committee of Correspondence as well as a committee dealing with non-importation matters. He attended various Patriot assemblies and in 1774 participated in seizing and confiscating British munitions from
and Mary. Fort William
From 1775 until 1776, Langdon was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. After resigning in June 1776, he became an agent for the American patriots and supervised the construction of various warships, including the
Raleigh, the , and the Ranger (later captained by John Paul Jones). He was very busy in 1777 as he equipped an
expedition against British forces, participated in the Battle of Bennington,
and commanded Langdon's Company of Light Horse Volunteers at America Saratoga
and in . Rhode Island
In 1784 Langdon built a mansion in
, which is now
known as the Governor John Langdon House.
He served two terms as President of New Hampshire (1785-86 and
1788-89). He was a member of the
Congress of the Confederation in 1787 as well as a delegate from Portsmouth to the
Constitutional Convention that same year.
During the constitutional debates in 1787, he "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." New Hampshire
Langdon belonged to three different political parties: Pro-Administration, Anti-Administration, and Democratic-Republican. He also followed the Congregationalist religion.
Under the new Constitution, Langdon was elected to the U.S. Senate (March 4, 1789, to March 4, 1801) and was elected as the first President pro tempore of the Senate on April 6, 1789. He also served as President pro tempore during the Second Congress. He later served in the New Hampshire Legislature (1801-05) and was speaker during the last two terms. He was governor of
from 1805-12 with a break
during 1809-10. He was nominated to be a
candidate for vice president with James Madison in 1812 but declined the
nomination and later retired. New Hampshire
There was no mention of a wife or children. His niece, Catherine Whipple Langdon, married Edmund Roberts in 1808. Langdon died on September 18, 1819, in his hometown of
, at age 78. His body was interred at the Langdon Tomb in
New Hampshire . I assume that this cemetery is in North Cemetery . Portsmouth, New
John Langdon has the honor of having the town of
New Hampshire, named after him as well as being
one of several Founders to have a street in
named after him. Madison, Wisconsin