Dennis Lyall: Jonathan Dayton
Artist: Dennis Lyall
Jonathan Dayton was the youngest man to sign the United States Constitution. He graduated from the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, at the age of fifteen. Following graduation, he served for seven years as an officer in the Revolutionary War. After the war, he began to study law. He was admitted to the bar at age twenty-six, and won election to the New Jersey state legislature in 1787. His father, Colonel Elias Dayton, declined his own nomination for the Constitutional Convention in favor of his son. Young Jonathan Dayton took a seat in the Philadelphia meeting, taking an active part in the Constitutional Convention. He attacked proposals by the large states that were trying to prevent an equal voice for each state in the new Senate. After signing the Consittution, Dayton returned to the state legislature in New Jersey. The legislature elected Dayton to the United Staes Senate from 1799 to 1805. A close friendship developed between Dayton and Aaron Burr, who was Vice-President of the United States at the time. This friendship led to Dayton's fall from political power, for he became caught up with Burr's plans for creating an empire that would consolidate the western territories of the United States. Although he was never brought to trial, Dayton was indicted for treason in 1807. He was elected to the New Jersey legislature in 1814 to 1815, but he never again held high office. He died on October 9, 1824, just a week short of his sixty-fourth birthday.
This artwork was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for The Signers of the Constitution Collection issued on September 17, 1987.
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