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Revolutionary War Patriot
philanthropist, born in New York, 17 October, 1758; died there, 25 April, 1825.
He was the great-grandson of Matthew Clarkson, who for thirteen years was
secretary of the province, and his father and grandfather also held important
places in the colony.
At the beginning of the Revolutionary war, in 1775, the Clarkson became a
private in a company of fusiliers under Rudolph Ritzema, and afterward he served
in Colonel Josiah Smith's regiment of minutemen, which was raised for the
purpose of protecting Long Island from invasion. He joined the northern army in
1777, was wounded at Fort Edward, and at Saratoga rendered effective service to
Colonel Daniel Morgan, also acted as aide-de-camp to
Benedict Arnold, and was present at the
surrender of General John Burgoyne.
In 1779 he was appointed aide to General
Benjamin Lincoln through the personal request of the President of Congress,
2d Apl. 1779
Philadelphia 2, April 1779
Altho I have not the Honor of a personal acquaintance with you, yet I
am so well informed of your Character, as to believe you will always be happy in
leading a Young Soldier to Glory, and to afford him that Countenance and
Protection, which a brave and generous youth seldom fails to invite.
Permit me therefore to recommend to you Major Clarkson; who is now
going to place himself under you Command, and be afsured that you will confer an
obligation on me, by becoming his friend as well as his General ---
I am Sir with great Respect & Esteem
Your most obedt Servnt
Major General Lincoln
Under General Lincoln, Clarkson participated in the siege of Savannah, and
in the defense of Charleston he served as a major of infantry. He became a
prisoner at the surrender to the British. In 1781 he returned to his place as
aide to General Lincoln, and was with him at the reduction of Yorktown. He also
served on the expedition of Colonel Abraham Whipple during the siege of
Charleston, and later in the "Jason."
When Lincoln became secretary of war, Clarkson acted as his assistant, and
on the conclusion of hostilities he received the brevet of lieutenant-colonel,
and for more than fourteen years was major-general of the state militia. He
served in both branches of the legislature, and was candidate of the Federal
party for United States senator.
For twenty-one years he was president of the Bank of New York, one of the
first promoters of the free-school system, a regent of the University of the
state of New York in 1784-1825, governor of the New York hospital for thirty
years, during twenty-three of which he was president, and one of the
vice-presidents and founders of the American Bible society. His name is
associated with the foundation of nearly all the early philanthropic societies
of New York City.