Jonathan Dayton

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Founding Fathers
Jonathan Dayton.jpg
Jonathan Dayton
State New Jersey
Religion Episcopalian
Founding Documents United States Constitution

Jonathan Dayton (October 16, 1760 – October 9, 1824) was the fourth Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He was also a delegate to the Federal Constitutional Convention in 1787 and a signer of the United States Constitution.

Early life

Dayton was born in Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), New Jersey, on October 16, 1760, the son of Elias and Hannah Rolfe Dayton.[1] He graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1776; following a course of legal study, he was admitted to the bar.[2] At Princeton he was classmates with Alexander Hamilton.[3]

Military Service

During the Revolutionary War, Dayton served in the Third New Jersey Regiment of the Continental Army from 1776-1783, serving as paymaster of his father's unit and later attaining the rank of captain. He was taken prisoner at Elizabethtown, N.J., and later exchanged.[4][5] Later, he moved to the Second New Jersey Regiment, and fought in the Battle of Yorktown.[6]


Dayton served as a New Jersey delegate to the Continental Congress from 1787-1788, and was elected to be a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Other members of the New Jersey delegation to the Convention were William Houston, William Livingston, William Paterson, and David Brearley.

He was a signer of the finalized Constitution, and at 26 years of age was the youngest person to sign the United States Constitution.

He was elected to the Second and to the three succeeding Congresses, serving from March 4, 1791 – March 3, 1799. During this time, he also held the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives for the Fourth and Fifth Congresses. In 1798, rather than seek re-election, he chose to seek election to the Senate, running as a Federalist. He was successfully elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1799, to March 3, 1805.

Controversy and Accusations

In 1807, Dayton was arrested on charges of treason for supposedly conspiring with Aaron Burr. He was subsequently released, and the case was never brought to trial.[7]

Death and legacy

Dayton died in Elizabethtown in 1824 and was interred in a vault in St. John's Churchyard.

The city of Dayton, Ohio is named after him.