William Peter Van Ness

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William Peter Van Ness (February 13, 1778–September 6, 1826) was a United States federal judge.

Early Life and education[change | change source]

Van Ness was born in Ghent, New York. He is the son of Judge Peter Van Ness (1734– 1804), a lawyer and farmer. The home and land were later purchased by Martin Van Buren, who renamed the estate Lindenwald. Peter Van Ness is buried on the Lindenwald estate.[1]

William Van Ness's brothers included U.S. Representative and Washington, D.C. mayor John Peter Van Ness[2] and Vermont governor Cornelius Peter Van Ness.[3]

William Van Ness attended Washington Seminary[4] and graduated from Columbia College in 1797.[5]

After graduating from college William Van Ness read law in the office of Edward Livingston, attaining acceptance to the bar in 1800.[6][7]

Early Career[change | change source]

William Van Ness practiced law in New York City, Albany, and Hudson from 1800 to 1812.[8]

Van Ness, a friend of Aaron Burr, was an active participant in the 1800 presidential campaign as a vocal supporter of the Democratic-Republican candidates, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.[9]

In 1801 Van Ness served as a Delegate to the New York Constitutional Convention, which was called to amend the state constitution of 1777.[10]

Martin Van Buren completed his legal studies in Van Ness's office in 1802 and became an attorney in Columbia County, New York.[11]

In July, 1804 William Van Ness served as Aaron Burr's second in Burr's duel with Alexander Hamilton, and was present when Burr killed Hamilton.[12]

Judicial career[change | change source]

On May 25, 1812, Van Ness was nominated by President James Madison to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of New York. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 26, 1812, and received his commission on May 27, 1812. On April 9, 1814, he was reassigned by operation of law to the newly subdivided United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.[13]

Career as an author[change | change source]

Van Ness was the author of several political and judicial works, including: Examination of Charges against Aaron Burr (1803); The Laws of New York, with Notes, (with John Woodworth), (2 vols. 1813); Reports of Two Cases in the Prize Court for New York District (1814); and Concise Narrative of Gen. Jackson's First Invasion of Florida (1826).[14]

Death and burial[change | change source]

Van Ness served on the bench until his death in New York City. He was buried in Brooklyn's Greenwood Cemetery.[15]

Other websites[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. New York State Historical Association (1949). New York, a guide to the Empire state. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 564, 565. ISBN 1603540318. http://books.google.com/books?id=TmbOZd4D-ccC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  2. Mackenzie, William Lyon (1846). The life and times of Martin Van Buren. Cooke & Co. p. 23. http://books.google.com/books?id=4BcOAAAAIAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  3. Wilbur, La Fayette (1903). Early history of Vermont, Volume 4. Roscoe Printing House. p. 124. http://books.google.com/books?id=47k1AAAAIAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  4. Gebhard, Elizabeth Louise (1910). The parsonage between two manors: annals of Clover-Reach. Bryan Printing Co. p. 45. http://books.google.com/books?id=TUAYAAAAYAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  5. Officers and graduates .... Columbia University. 1916. p. 88. http://books.google.com/books?id=dEMbAAAAYAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  6. Raymond, William (1851). Biographical sketches of the distinguished men of Columbia County. Weed, Parsons and Company. pp. 133– 135. http://books.google.com/books?id=DYpBAAAAYAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  7. Miller, Peyton Farrell (1904). A group of great lawyers of Columbia County, New York. Priv. print. pp. 133– 135. http://books.google.com/books?id=UassAAAAIAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  8. Hough, Franklin Benjamin (1974). American biographical notes, being short notices of deceased persons. Harbor Hill Books. p. 404. ISBN 1154624447.
  9. Harbert, Earl N (1986). History of the United States of America during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson. Library of America. p. 417. ISBN 0940450348. http://books.google.com/books?id=iE-pz-rhsf0C&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  10. Littleton, Martin Wilie (1905). The Democratic Party of the state of New York. United States History Company. p. 47. http://books.google.com/books?id=CDveTOv3MMIC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  11. Hodge, Carl Cavanagh; Nolan, Cathal J. (2007). US presidents and foreign policy. ABC-CLIO. p. 73. ISBN 1851097902. http://books.google.com/books?id=qXeRALIwozgC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  12. Freeman, Joanne B. (2002). Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic. Yale University Press. p. 180. ISBN 0300097557. http://books.google.com/books?id=Wmz3tNhWm7UC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  13. Burak, H. Paul (1962). "History of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York" (PDF). Southern District of New York. pp. 3, 4. http://www1.nysd.uscourts.gov/operations/history.pdf. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  14. John Howard Brown, ed. (1903). Lamb's biographical dictionary of the United States, Volume 7. James H. Lamb Company. p. 430. http://books.google.com/books?id=8yVAAAAAYAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  15. Baltimore: Biography. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. 1912. p. 533. http://books.google.com/books?id=escLAAAAYAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved April 3, 2011.