Leonard Gansevoort Skips The Annapolis Convention
Leonard Gansevoort was the stereotypical member of the Albany elite.
Leonard was born into wealth and led a life of luxury. He became involved in state politics because it was one of the few things expected from a man in his position.
Although he did little on the national stage, his decision to skip the Annapolis Convention is interesting to review for two reasons. First, it speaks to how respected he was by his contemporaries to be chosen. Second, it reflects on the lax attitude most Founders had toward the Articles of Confederation and the need to a more unified Federal Government.
Leonard Gansevoort was born into one of the wealthiest families in Albany, New York. As such, he was afforded the opportunity to pursue politics.
In his early 20’s, Gansevoort joined the Albany Committee of Correspondence. This Committee acted as a shadow government for the city, out of sight and control of the Royal Governor.
Leonard served the Committee of Correspondence as Treasurer.
A New New York
When the New York Provincial Congress began meeting in December 1775, Gansevoort was sent to represent Albany. This was the beginning of a lifetime in state politics.
Gansevoort was still attending the Congress when the United States declared independence. He was present when the Congress changed its name to the New York State Assembly.
During this period, Leonard was involved with the discussions and debates that led to the first New York State Constitution.
After the Revolutionary War came to an end, many people began to notice the holes in the Articles of Confederation. A Convention was called in Annapolis, Maryland.
New York decided to attend and selected its delegates. Leonard Gansevoort was among those selected.
Unfortunately, Gansevoort did not attend. While it is hard to determine what his reason was for staying in New York, it is not surprising he did. Many delegates from many States stayed home.
In the end, the Annapolis Convention failed to receive enough attendees to get a quorum. (This problem with getting members to show up was one of the issues hindering the Articles of Confederation, which the Convention was meant to discuss.)
The men who did go to Annapolis put out another invitation…to meet in Philadelphia the following year. This second meeting would famously produce the US Constitution.
State Senator and Justice
As for Gansevoort, he would also be elected to the Continental Congress in 1788. Again, he would not attend, but this is less surprising as the Constitution had been ratified and the Confederation Congress was a lame duck government.
Instead, Gansevoort accepted election to the New York State Senate where he helped the State take its place in the new, federal government.
Additionally, he would be elected a judge of Albany county. Gansevoort sat on the bench for over fifteen years until he passed away at the age of 59.
Leonard Gansevoort may not have been the most famous Founder, and he may not have helped the United States on a national scale, but his contribution to the young country should not be overlooked.
There were hundreds of Founders working at the State level to get America off the ground. If it was not for his efforts building New York, other Founders could never have built the United States.
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While Gansevoort doesn't have a biography (in fact, information is hard to come by on him), you can read 'The Other New York' if you'd like to learn more about the city of Albany during the American Revolution. If you purchase through the link below, you will be taken to Amazon and support this site at no additional cost to you.