Birth Date: June 21, 1774
Death Date: June 11, 1825
Lawyer, Democratic-Republican politician, jurist, New York state assemblyman, U.S. representative, governor of New York (1807–1817), and vice president of the United States under James Monroe (1817–1825). Born on June 21, 1774, in Scarsdale, New York, Daniel D. Tompkins graduated from Columbia College in 1795, was admitted to the bar in 1797, and began the practice of law in New York City.
Tompkins won election in 1801 to the state constitutional convention and to the New York Assembly in 1803. In 1804 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, but he resigned that same year to become an associate justice on the New York Supreme Court, a post he held until 1807. Meanwhile, he formed a political alliance with DeWitt Clinton and successfully challenged the sitting governor, fellow Democratic-Republican Lewis Morgan, for the New York governorship. Tompkins served as governor from 1807 to 1817.
As governor, Tompkins strongly disagreed with Federalist opposition to the Embargo Act of 1807 and supported the policies of President Thomas Jefferson. The embargo nevertheless emboldened the Federalists, who took control of the New York Assembly in 1809. Because of widespread smuggling along the northern frontier, Tompkins called out the militia to enforce the law from Lake Champlain to Oswego. He also cooperated closely with Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin to stop violations of the 1807 law. In the 1810 gubernatorial election, Tompkins defeated Federalist Jonas Platt.
In 1812 Tompkins broke with Clinton over Clinton's challenge to James Madison's presidential reelection bid and opposition to the War of 1812. Federalists, meanwhile, made a political comeback in the 1812 and 1813 New York Assembly elections and the 1812 congressional elections. In 1813 Tompkins again won reelection by defeating Federalist Stephen Van Rensselaer.
During the war, Tompkins strengthened the defenses of the western and northern frontier and New York City and worked closely with the James Madison administration. Tompkins also dispatched the state militia to stamp out widespread smuggling along Lake Champlain, join in military campaigns, defend the state, and enforce the trade embargoes. Vicious British attacks on Black Rock and Buffalo in December 1813 allowed the Democratic-Republicans to win control of the New York Assembly in 1814, which endorsed prowar measures and militia service recommended by Tompkins.
Governor Tompkins also assumed personal responsibility for war loans from banks in New York City to strengthen its defenses, which led the president to offer him the post of secretary of state in October 1814, which Tompkins declined. Instead, Madison gave Tompkins command of the Third Military District to defend New York City.
Running for reelection again in 1816, Tompkins easily defeated Federalist Rufus King. The following year, Tompkins resigned the governorship after being elected vice president in the new James Monroe administration. Tompkins served two terms in office and in 1821 presided over the New York Constitutional Convention. Tompkins died on June 11, 1825, on Staten Island, New York.
Clinton, DeWitt; Clintonians; Democratic-Republican Party; Embargo Act of 1807; Federalist Party; Gallatin, Albert; King, Rufus; Lewis, Morgan; Madison, James; Monroe, James; New York; War of 1812, Overview