Daniel D. TompkinsU.S. Vice President / State Governor
Born: 21 June 1774
Died: 11 June 1825
Birthplace: Westchester County, New York
Best known as: U.S. vice president under James Monroe, 1817-1825
Daniel D. Tompkins was the governor of New York from 1807-1817 and the vice president of the United States during the two terms of James Monroe (1817-1825). Born into a successful New York farming family, Tompkins began his career in law in 1797 and was elected to the state assembly in 1803. The next year he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives, but before the congressional session was convened he resigned to take a seat on the New York Supreme Court. He was popular and politically connected to DeWitt Clinton, nephew of Vice President George Clinton; Tompkins served ten years as governor of New York before being picked to run with Monroe in the 1816 election. The two terms Tompkins served as vice president were dominated by his struggle with the state of New York over financial questions related to his time as governor. As governor he had mingled his personal finances with state finances -- he'd backed the federal government in the War of 1812, but the New York legislature hadn't, resulting in Tompkins using some of his own funds for stop-gap financing, without keeping a tidy accounting. The state said he owed them money, he said the state owed him money, and the process was complicated by the intervention of his political rivals (including DeWitt Clinton, his one-time ally). Tompkins was so consumed with his troubles back in New York he paid little attention to his Washington duties, and by all accounts he ended a brilliant political career as an absentee vice president with mounting debt and a drinking problem.
Extra credit: In the end the state of New York agreed that Tompkins was owed money, but he had already died and the funds were distributed to his descendants... Tompkins signed a bill in 1817 to abolish slavery in New York; the bill took effect in 1827... He was married to Hannah Minthorne and they had eight children... One of Governor Tompkins' aides was young Washington Irving... Tompkins was not given a middle name and adopted the middle initial D. on his own.
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