Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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VAN" SCHAACK, Peter, lawyer, born in Kinder-hook, New York, in March, 1747; died there, 17 September, 1832. His ancestors were early settlers of New York state, emigrating from Holland. Peter was graduated at Columbia in 1768, studied law under William Smith the elder, and at twenty-six years of age was appointed sole reviser of the colonial statutes. He was conscientiously opposed to the Revolution, and, notwithstanding his personal popularity and intimacy with the most eminent men of the country, was summoned before the committee on conspiracies at Albany in June, 1777, and required to take the oath of allegiance to the Continental congress. He refused, was ordered to Boston within ten days, and from that time was constantly restrained, the authorities even refusing to permit him to take his dying wife to New York, as she entreated. In October, 1778, he was banished, went to England, and remained there till the summer of 1785. During his residence abroad he associated with the chief scholars and statesmen of Great Britain. When he returned to this country he was welcomed by his old associates and by people of all parties, and, resuming his profession, was eminently popular and successful. From constant study his eyesight became impaired early in life, and during his later years he was totally blind. He also devoted much time to his law-school, which numbered nearly one hundred pupils annually. Judge Van Schaack was well versed in polite literature as well as legal lore, a fine classical scholar, and a brilliant conversationalist, and his residence at Kinderhook, which is still standing, was the resort of many eminent persons of both England and this country. Columbia gave him the degree of LL.D. in 1778. He published "Laws of the Colony of :New York" (2 vols., New York, 1773), and "Conductor Generalis, or the Duty and Authority of Justices, Sheriffs, Constables, etc., Revised and Adapted to the United States" (1788). See his "Life, Journal, Diary, and Letters," edited by his son, Henry C. Van Schaack (1842).--His son, Henry Cruger, lawyer, born in Kinderhook, New York, 3 April, 1802; died in Manlius, New York, 16 December, 1887, received an academic education at Hudson and legal instruction from his father, and at twenty-one years of age was admitted to the bar and began practice at Black Rock, near Buffalo. In 1827 he removed to Manlius, New York During his sixty years of professional life Mr. Van Schaack published the life of his father, already referred to, and several pamphlets, including "Henry Cruger," an address read before the New York historical society (New York, 1859);" History of Manlius Village" (Fayetteville, New York, 1873) ; "An Old Kinderhook Mansion" (New York, 1878); and " Captain Thomas Morris" (1882). He was a noted collector of manuscripts, and his collection of autograph letters--including those of most of the heroes and patriots of the Revolution--was one of the most extensive and valuable in the country.
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