Gulian C. Verplanck

"Gulian Verplanck" redirects here. For the Speaker of the NY Assembly, see Gulian Verplanck (speaker).
Gulian Crommelin Verplanck

Gulian Crommelin Verplanck (August 6, 1786 – March 18, 1870) was an American attorney, politician, and writer. He was elected to the New York State Assembly and Senate, and later to the United States House of Representatives from New York, where he served as Chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee.

He served in a number of appointed positions of major institutions in New York: governor of New York Hospital; regent of the University of the State of New York, where in 1858 he became its Vice Chancellor, serving until his death more than a decade later; and President of the Board of Commissioners of Immigration for more than two decades.

Verplanck published articles and poetry in the North American Review, and was counted among the "Knickerbocker group". As a young man, he was among the organizers of the American Academy of the Fine Arts in New York City, which opened in 1802. It was intended to promote the study of classical art and help establish the city as a center of art. With tastes changing, it closed in 1840.


Verplanck was born in the family mansion at 3 Wall Street in New York City, the son of Congressman Daniel C. Verplanck and his wife, descendants of Dutch colonists. When his widowed father remarried in 1789, Gulian was brought up by his paternal grandmother, Judith Crommelin Verplanck. He graduated B.A. from Columbia College in 1801, "read law" with Edward Livingston[1] Verplanck was admitted to the bar in 1807 and had a law office at 51 Wall Street.[2] In 1811 he was fined $200 for inciting a riot at a Columbia College commencement at Trinity Church when the presiding officer declined to confer a degree upon a student who had made political statements with which the faculty disagreed. Mayor DeWitt Clinton presided over the trial, and as he was seeking Federalist support against President James Madison in the upcoming election, it was thought that this may have influenced his conduct of the trial.[1]

A few years later, when established, he married Mary Eliza Fenno on October 2, 1811. She was a daughter of John and Mary Fenno. One of her sisters married J. O. Hoffman. Verplanck and Mary Eliza had two sons, William Samuel (1812-1885), and Gulian (1815-1845). While traveling abroad, Mary Verplanck died in 1817 in Paris. She was buried there at the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

He was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1820.[3]

Gulian C. Verplanck spent the greater part of his life in New York City. He served as a professor at the General Theological Seminary in New York City from 1821 to 1824.[2] He was one of the governors of the New York Hospital from 1823 to 1865. In 1826, he was elected a regent of the University of the State of New York, and in 1858 became its Vice Chancellor, remaining in office until his death.

Political career

Verplanck was elected as a member of the New York State Assembly in 1820–21, 1822 and 1823. He was elected as a Jacksonian to the 19th, 20th, and as a Democrat to the 21st and 22nd United States Congresses, holding office from March 4, 1825, to March 3, 1833. He was Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means (22nd Congress).[2] While there one of his leading acts was to secure the extension of the period of copyrights.[4] In 1833, when President Andrew Jackson began his quest to suppress the Second Bank of the United States, Verplanck left the Democrats.

In April 1834, at the first popular election for Mayor of New York City, Verplanck was the candidate of the emerging Whig Party but was narrowly defeated (sources range from 181 to 213 votes) by Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence.[5] Afterwards Verplanck kept his own counsel in politics and supported William Henry Harrison (Whig), James K. Polk (Dem.), Zachary Taylor (Whig) and James Buchanan (Dem.) for President, remaining a Democrat thereafter.

Verplanck was a member of the New York State Senate (1st D.) from 1838 to 1841, sitting in the 61st, 62nd, 63rd and 64th New York State Legislatures.

He was appointed as the President of the Board of Commissioners of Immigration, serving from 1846 until his death in 1870. He was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1867-68.

Writing career

In his literary life, Verplanck was a contributor to the North American Review, perhaps best known for his denunciation of Knickerbocker's History of New York (by Washington Irving). In 1819 he wrote verse satires against Dewitt Clinton; these were generally known as The Bucktail Bards. On the request of Harper Brothers, he edited a set of Shakespeare.[4]

Through his writing, he was considered part of the so-called "Knickerbocker group", which included Irving, William Cullen Bryant, James Kirke Paulding, Fitz-Greene Halleck, Joseph Rodman Drake, Robert Charles Sands, Lydia Maria Child, and Nathaniel Parker Willis.[6]

Verplanck was one of the founding members of the Century Club and was its President at the time of his death.


Verplanck died at his residence in 14th Street in New York City on March 18, 1870. He was buried at the Trinity Churchyard in Fishkill, New York.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gulian Crommelin Verplanck.



United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Peter Sharpe,
John J. Morgan,
Churchill C. Cambreleng
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 3rd congressional district

with Churchill C. Cambreleng 1825-33, Jeromus Johnson 1825-29 and Campbell P. White 1829-33
Succeeded by
Dudley Selden,
Campbell P. White,
Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence,
Churchill C. Cambreleng
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Charles L. Livingston
New York State Senate
First District (Class 3)

Succeeded by
Isaac L. Varian
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