(1752–1816), graduated from King's College (1768) and, after a brief but brilliant law career, entered politics. As a member of the New York landed aristocracy, he was a conservative, but he supported the patriots in the Revolution. In the New York provincial congress he was a moderate and helped frame the state constitution. In the Continental Congress (1778–79) he drafted important documents and wrote Observations on the American Revolution (1779). Failing reelection, he moved to Philadelphia, resumed law practice, and wrote anonymous articles on finance that led to his appointment to assist Robert Morris as superintendent of finance (1781–85). In the Constitutional Convention he favored a strong centralized government controlled by the upper class, for he was frankly cynical about democracy. He was a business agent and later U.S. minister to France (1792–94), but was recalled at French request because he opposed their Revolution. In the Senate (1800–1803) he remained a staunch Federalist. His Diary and Letters (2 vols., 1888) and Diary of the French Revolution (2 vols., 1938) have been issued.
From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.