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Governor John Langdon

 
LANGDON AFTER THE REVOLUTION (Continued)

Gov Langdon House, Portsmouth, NH / SeacoastNH.com

NH Gov And 1st Senator

New Hampshire's Gen. John Stark organized the men and led them into Vermont. The army met Burgoyne's advance guard at Bennington and won a decisive victory, sparing New Hampshire from any British aggression. The end of the war found John Langdon in the thick of New Hampshire politics. Elected to the Continental Congress in 1783 and '84 he declined to serve, choosing instead to remain in New Hampshire. In 1784 he was a state senator from Rockingham County and in 1785 was elected president of New Hampshire.

By 1786 the infant United States was in trouble because the federal government was not strong enough to regulate the country. John Langdon favored a strong federal government, and when a constitutional convention was called to restructure the government, he was elected as a delegate. He worked on the Constitution in Philadelphia and then went to New York as a delegate to the Continental Congress and helped win approval for the new document. He returned to New Hampshire late in 1787 and turned all his ability and influence to the task of getting the ratification convention to approvc the Constitution. This it did on June 21, 1788, as New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify, making the Constitution law. Langdon's satisfaction in the matter is very evident in a letter he wrote to George Washington on the same day, in which he said: "I have the great pleasure of informing your Excellency that this State has this day adopted the Federal Constitution, 57 years 46 days-there by placing the Key Stone in the great arch. "

In November of 1788 the New Hampshire Legislature elected John Langdon as a senator and early in 1789 he traveled to the capital in New York City to attend the first meeting of the United States Senate. The Senate elected him its president and in this role he counted the votes of the electoral college in the first national election. To Langdon fell the honor of informing George Washington that he had been elected president, and on April 30, 1789, he administered the oath of office to the nation's first chief executive.

John Langdon served New Hampshire as senator until March of 1801 and was influential in forming the 3 policies of the United States in its early years. Then he returned to New Hampshire and served as state senator, as speaker of the house, and as governor for six terms. In 1812 he turned down the Republican nomination for vice president of the United States and retired from public life. In 1813 his wife died and part of his great spirit died with her. Langdon devoted his remaining years to religious matters and on September 18, 1819, he died in his mansion on Pleasant Street in Portsmouth, ending an era in the state's history.

By Steve Adams. Originally published in "NH: Years of Revolution," Profiles Publications and the NH Bicentennial Commision, 1976. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. This article first appeared online here in 1997.

About the Langdon Portrait at the top of the page:  It was painted by Hattie Elizabeth Burdette (1872 - 1955) for the US Senate in 1916 after an earlier portrait by James Sharples. Langdon was the first president pro tempore of the Senate and this portrait is among 70 paintings owned by the Seanate including an image of John Paul Jones. 

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