Jeremiah Van Rensselaer Can't Help Reclaim Land
Jeremiah Van Rensselaer was an early advocate of the rights of the people and was a founding member of the Albany Sons of Liberty.
Additionally, Van Rensselaer was an original member of the US House of Representatives and a Lieutenant Governor of New York.
I put a lot of time into researching Jeremiah and, unfortunately, there was not much I found which made him stand out except his association with Louis Osmont which is discussed in this article.
Jeremiah Van Rensselaer
While today the city of Albany is known for little more than being the corrupt capital of New York, during the American Revolution it was one of the most populated cities in the British Colonies.
At the time, Albany politics were dominated by a handful of extremely wealthy families. Jeremiah Van Rensselaer was related to most of these families.
When hostilities against Great Britain began to boil, Van Rensselaer helped turn Albany into a hotbed of rebellious sentiment.
Son of Liberty
During the Stamp Act Crisis, Van Rensselaer signed the Albany Constitution. This was an early (but important) protest against unfair taxation which established Albany as a leading Patriot city.
Soon thereafter Jeremiah joined the local Sons of Liberty. He was elected to the Committee of Safety (which prepared the militia) and Committee of Correspondence (for which he would eventually serve as Chairman).
When the Revolutionary War broke out, Van Rensselaer was recruited to serve as a Paymaster in the Continental Army.
After the war, Van Rensselaer would go on to serve in the New York State Assembly. Additionally, when the US Constitution was ratified, Jeremiah became an inaugural member of the United States House of Representatives.
The most interesting thing that Van Rensselaer was involved in during his time in Congress was the case of Louis Osmont.
Osmont was fleeing the French Revolution and purchased some land in Central New York. It seems that the person who sold him the land was a trickster and did not actually own it. American Charge d’Affairs in France, William Short, was asked to contact Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to rectify the situation.
Jefferson asked Van Rensselaer to assist in remedying the situation, but unfortunately, as Timothy Pickering had just worked out a treaty with the Native Americans in the area. Despite his best efforts, Jeremiah could not reclaim Osmont’s property.
Osmont would later move to Philadelphia and make money as a successful merchant.
As for Van Rensselaer, he would lose his reelection campaign.
Returning home, he became a founder of the Bank of Albany. Though now defunct, the Bank of Albany played an important role in the growth of that city.
Eventually, longtime Governor of New York George Clinton would need a new running mate. He tapped Van Rensselaer whose years of dedication to his State paid off.
Jeremiah served as Lieutenant Governor for four years before Clinton replaced Aaron Burr as Vice President. Van Rensselaer then retired to his countryside estate.
Here are some articles on other members of the Albany Sons of Liberty:
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Want to read about the Rensselaer Family?
‘Fort Crailo and the Van Rensselaers’ discusses the family home which led to the city that keeps their name today.
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