(15 Oct 1767, Poughkeepsie NY)
8 Apr 1859, Yonkers NY)
+ Judge Jonas PlattJune 1790
(30 Jun 1769, Wappingers Creek NY)
(22 Feb 1834, Peru NY)
[married Judge Richard Ray Lansing]
Attorney General Zephaniah Platt
[married Cornelia Jenkins]
Helen Livingston Platt
[married Truman Parmelee and Dr. Bell]
[died at 18]
Henry Livingston Platt
[married Sarah M. Morey]
'Twas summer, when softly the breezes were blowing,
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Jonas Platt was a mentor to Henry's daughter Catharine and son Henry Welles. He was also
helpful to Catharine's son, Sidney Breese.
Memoir of DeWitt Clinton - Letter from DWC to Jonas Platt
On the 8th of October  the first canal boat will pass into the Hudson at this place, and a celebration will take place under the direction of
the citizens and corporation of Albany, correspondent with this auspicious event. Your signal
services in initiating, and promoting, our
great system of internal navigation will be remembered to your honour when we are no more.
[It was Jonas Platt who first proposed that the Erie Canal be created.]
PLATT, Jonas, 1769-1834
PLATT, Jonas, (son of Zephaniah Platt), a Representative from New York;
born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., June 30, 1769; attended a French academy at
Montreal, Canada; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1790 and practiced in
Poughkeepsie; county clerk of Herkimer County 1791-1798 and of Oneida
County 1798-1802; member of the State assembly in 1796; elected as a Federalist
to the Sixth Congress (March 4, 1799-March 3, 1801); chairman, Committee on
Revisal and Unfinished Business (Sixth Congress); resumed the practice of law;
general of Cavalry in the State militia; was an unsuccessful candidate for
Governor [of NY] in 1810; member of the State senate 1810-1813; member of the council
of appointment in 1813; served as associate justice of the supreme court of New
York 1814-1821; delegate to the New York Constitutional Convention in 1821;
resumed the practice of law; died in Peru, Clinton County, N.Y., February 22,
1834; interment in Riverside Cemetery, Plattsburg, N.Y.
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The Platt Lineage
JUDGE JONAS BRANCH
JONAS PLATT, second son of Judge Zephaniah Platt, and Mary Van Wyke, was born in
Po'keepsie, N. Y., June 30, 1769. After he had finished his preparatory studies at a
French academy in Montreal, he entered the law office of Richard Varick, in New York,
and under his able guidance prosecuted his legal studies. He was admitted to the bar in
The same year he married Helen, the youngest daughter of Henry Livingston, of
Po'keepsie, a sister of Dr. John H. Livingston, President of Rutgers College, N. J. Soon
afterwards he was made clerk of Herkimer County. He made his home in Whitesboro',
near Utica, in 1791.
Oneida was set off as a county in 1798, and he was made the first
county clerk. He had previously, in 1796, represented this district and Onondaga in the
Legislature at Albany. He was General of Cavalry in the State militia. He was two years a
member of Congress, from 1799. He was four years in the State Senate, from 1809.
1814 he was made Judge of the Supreme Court, with Judges Kent and Spencer as
associates. He filled this high office with distinguished ability upwards of eight years.
He was a member of the
Convention which framed the State Constitution of 1821. Under its amended provisions
he lost his judicial position. He returned to the practice of his profession, and
opened a law
office with his oldest son, Zephaniah, at Utica.
In three or four years he removed to New
York, where he prosecuted his profession with assiduity and success. But warned by
coming infirmity, he retired in 1829, to his farm, seven miles from Plattsburg, on the
shores of Lake Champlain.
It should be recorded that in 1810, he was the popular
candidate of his party for the governorship of the State, and though beaten by his
opponent, Daniel D. Tompkins, he made a well-contested canvass.
It should be stated, too,
that he was the earliest of the promoters of the Erie Canal enterprise. When Thomas
Eddy applied to him as a leader in his party, for his influence to authorize the building of
a canal from Oneida Lake to the Seneca River, he said: No; a canal should be constructed
from Lake Erie to the Hudson. The Senator persuaded him that this was the true plan. At
Mr. Platt's suggestion they invited to their counsels De Witt Clinton, a prominent leader of
the democracy. He approved the project. Senator Platt then moved the first resolution,
preparatory to building it, which was seconded in the Senate by Clinton; and this was
finally passed by both houses of the legislature. Renwick, the biographer of De Witt
Clinton, says of Judge Platt, "he was well entitled to the merit of having made the
first efficacious step towards the attainment of the great object of uniting the lakes with
His honors and his public positions show how he was appreciated, as a man,
a jurist and a statesman. He had a well-trained intellect, a well-stored mind and a
well-balanced character. A strict regard for what was just, eminently distinguished him.
His life, public and private, is without spot, and his distinguished career still sheds honor
upon those who bear his name, and those who are numbered among his kindred. He died
at his home near Plattsburg, February 22, 1834, in his 65th year.
Helen Livingston his
wife, died at the residence of her son Zephaniah, at Yonkers, N. Y., April 8, 1859, aged
It is with reference to Judge Jonas Platt and his father's family that the N. Y.
Genealogical Record justly says: "Few families have furnished so many distinguished
names, and all in close proximity to each other, to the civil service of the State." Every one
of the nine sons of Judge Zephaniah Platt and Mary Van Wyck, with one exception, held
prominent positions in public life.
Mrs. Bayard Boyd, n‚e Manetta Lansing, has very valuable portraits of Judge Jonas
Platt, and his wife Helen Livingston, painted shortly after their marriage. Another one of
the Judge, painted later by Trumbull, is in the possession of her sister, Mrs. Judge
Willard. These paintings are at the residences of the grand-daughters in Washington, D.
C. There is an interesting incident about the last
portrait. Trumbull's wife was an English lady, and he petitioned the New York
Legislature to allow her to own property in this country. On the final vote, (it was in the
midst of the excitement just before the war of 1812), Senator Platt stood alone in favor of
granting the petition. He deemed it just, and though it periled his popularity when he was
in nomination for the governorship of the state, yet he strenuously defended his position.
Trumbull put on the back of his portrait of the Judge the date of this vote, and this
motto--"Justum et tenacem propositi virum, non civium ardor prava jubentium mente
quatit solida." A just man and tenacious of the right, no popular passion shakes him from
his firm purpose. This is an admirable estimate of his character. Trumbull, who had been
an aid to Washington, was indignant at the refusal, and highly appreciated his friend's
wisdom, justice and courage.
The New York State Historical Association
Mr. Platt was the son of Hon. Zephoniah Platt, and was born at Poughkeepsie, N.Y., June 30th, 1769.
The father was a member of the Continental Congress, the Committee of Safety, the Provincial Congress of New York and later,
State Senator and first Judge of Dutchess County. He was a very wealthy man and a very extensive landholder,
including among his possessions a one fourth interest in the Sadequada or Saquoit patent of six thousand acres,
located in Whitestown.
Jonas Platt had not been trained to a life of ignoble ease and very early turned his attention to the study of law, which he
prosecuted under Richard Varick, the Attorney General of the State.
He was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court, July 27th, 1790, and in the following month located in Whitesboro, where
with his young wife he was soon installed in a log cabin.
He was County Clerk of Herkimer and Oneida Counties and in 1799 was elected to Congress. In 1810 he was elected to
the State Senate, remaining for two terms.
His success as a standard bearer of the Federal party, in a hitherto invincible district of the Jeffersonian Republicans,
led to his nomination in 1810 for Governor, but resulted in defeat.
While in the State Senate he drafted the resolution for the appointment of a commission to examine and survey the route
from Lake Erie to the Hudson River, which was consummated in the Erie Canal. The passage of the resolution followed the united
efforts of Mr. Platt and DeWitt Clinton.
During the more than twenty years since his advent in Whitesboro, he had been an active practioner in the courts. He
drew the bill in equity, referred to earlier in this paper, laying due emphasis upon the outrage perpetrated
upon his client's rights in the effort to coerce the complainant to become a Presbyterian and though defeated in the
trial court, success came to him in the Court of Errors. His opponent was Thomas R. Gold, who, doubtless knew well of
the long controversy in which the Rev. Hezekiah Gold, senior, upbore the standards of Congregationalism with
the rector of the Episcopal Church in Stratford.
As early as 1807, he had been seriously considered for a seat on the Supreme Court bench, but failed by one vote.
In 1814, he succeeded by one vote, though the Federalists were in a minority in the Council of Appointment.
The first three terms of court in Oneida County held by Judge Platt, were December, 1817, at Whitesboro, at Rome
in June, 1818, and in November at Utica. At the first term there were two hundred and fifty causes on the calendar and
one hundred and one jury trials took place. At the second term, which lasted four days, there were thirty-four
jury trials and at the Utica term he presided at seventy-two. He opened the court early in the morning
and held the sessions until nearly midnight. Stenographers were unknown in the courts. A voice from the past might well
address many of the trial judges of the present days, exclaiming, "Go tot he ant, thou sluggard; consider her
ways and be wise."
The influence of Judge Platt, as early as 1820, located a term of the Supreme Court at Utica, thus enhancing
throughout the state the importance of the locality, Albany and New York being the only other places where
the court sat in bane.
From the first session in 1820, the people became familiar with the distinguished lawyers of the State.
A gentleman long a resident of Utica informed me that he well remembered Col. Aaron Burr in his visits to the
city and said that he was much impressed by his dignified bearing. Col. Burr was always followed at a short
distance by a negro in his employ, who bore a bag of breen baize, containing the legal documents of Col. Burr.
Judge Platt is perhaps better known to the bar for his judicial attainments, by reason of a vigorous dissenting
opinion in Vosburg vs. Thayer, 12 Johnson's Rep. 461. The high sense of morality there displayed undoubtedly
forced the majority of the court, in order to defend their action, to take a position on the question of
the admissibility in evidence of books of account, which has exhausted the ingenuity of succeeding courts, in their
efforts to do justice and sustain that decision.
Upon his retirement from the bench, his personal fortune was nearly exhausted and he at once resumed the practice of the law
at Utica, his son, Zephaniah Platt, (Hamilton 1815), being associated with him. Patronage came to him from
all parts of the State and he soon located in New York City.
"His morals were perfectly pure, he posessed a high sense of honor and had acquired, apparently, an entire
control over his passions. His address was unobtrusive, modest and conciliatory. He had a high regard to
courtesy in respect to political conduct as well as in the private and social concerns of life."
In middle life he became interested in religion and was for many years president of the Oneida Bible Society.
In 1830 the condition of his health induced him to retire to a farm in Clinton County, where he died, very suddenly, February 22nd, 1834.
His son, before mentioned, removed to Michigan and became Attorney General of the State and later settled
in South Carolina, where he was appointed judge of one of the courts.
Judge Platt, General Kirkland, Thomas R. Gold and Erastus Clark with other members of the bar united in the
movement to found Hamilton College and served on its board of trustees.
Families of Olde Whitesborough 1784-1824 p. 33
Jonas Platt was born on June 30, 1769 at Poughkeepsie, NY the son of Zephaniah and Hannah (Saxon)
Platt (his first wife). He was 6th in the line of descent from his immigrant ancestor, Richard and Mary Platt,
who were from Rickmansworth, England to New Haven in 1638, their son, Capt. Epenetus, settling in Huntington,
Long Island, NY.
Jonas Platt was not in the Revolutionary War but his father, grandfather and brother (all named Zephaniah)
were. His father, Zephaniah, Jr., served as a Colonel, a Delegate to the Provincial Congress, member of
the Dutchess County Committee, and of the Associated Exempts from the State of New York. His grandfather
served as a P.S. from New York.
Jonas Platt received his education in a French Academy in Montreal, Canada. He then studied law and was
admitted to the bar in 1790. He practiced his profession in Poughkeepsie, NY for a very short time and was in
Whitesboro in 1791. He was County Clerk of Herkimer County from 1791 to 1798.
When Oneida County was created he assumed the same post there, where he served until 1802. During this period
he also served in the New York State Assembly in 1796.
On April 1, 1793 he was on a Committee of Resolutions in the formation of The Untied Presbyterian Societies
of Whitestown and Old Fort Schuyler. On March 23, 1799 he became one of the original members of the Aqueduct
Association of the Village of Whitesboro. He also became one of the Trustees of the Presbyterian Church.
he was one of the pioneer lawyers in the state of New York west of Johnstown.
His political preference was that of the Federalist Party and he served as a Federalist in the 6th Congress
March 4, 1799 - March 3, 1801. He then resumed the practice of law and entered into a partnership with
Arthur Breese (q.v.). He was the first Congressman who resided in what is now Oneida County.
He was appointed an associate judge of the Supreme Court in February of 1814 and during his term of office
he presided over 250 cases - 101 of which were jury trials. He held this office until 1821 when the new
State Constitution legislated the office out of existence. He was a member of the Convention in 1821
which framed the new constitution.
He was elected by the Federalists in 1809 to the New York State Senate where he served until 1813, during which
time he was very active in promoting legislation to look into the construction of the Erie Canal.
In 1810 Jonas Platt was the Federal Party's candidate for Governor, but he was defeated by Daniel D. Tompkins.
In the year 1811 he became associated with many prominent men, among whom were Seth Capron, Thomas R. Gold,
Newton Mann, Theodore Sill and William G. Tracy in the manufacturing of woolen goods. On January 12, 1813 he
was appointed a member of the Council of Appointments.
He had a length career in the New York State Militia. Following the erection of Herkimer County, the Governor
formed a militia of Herkimer County into a brigade. Jonas Platt was made Captain of a trip of horse in this
brigade, which position he held until the formation of Oneida County in 1798, when he assumed a similar
position in the Oneida County Militia.
In 1800 he was appointed Brigadier General of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade. He held this position until 1811 when he
His first home was a log cabin which he erected on the corner of Mohawk and Main Streets.
Evidently at some time during his service in the State Legislature he moved temporarily to Albany, as the records
of the Presbyterian Church, Whitesboro, state thusly: Sept. 19, 1817, Jonas Platt and his wife, formerly
members of this church, were received again by letter from the First Presbyterian Church in Albany.
Jonas Platt married Helen Livingston in 1790. She was the daughter of Henry and Susan (Conklin) Livingston.
Jonas and Helen had eight children, two sons and six daughters.
The wife and daughter of Jonas Platt were evidentally civic minded, as wife Helen, and daughters Susan,
and Cornelia are listed as members of the Female Charitable Society of Whitestown.
Upon leaving Oneida County area Jonas went first to New York City where he practiced law for a short time.
He later moved to Clinton County where he died in Peru, NY, Feb. 22, 1834 and was interred in the Riverside
Cemetery, Plattsburg, NY. This is the city his father, Zephaniah Platt, founded.
Father's Congressional Biography
PLATT, Zephaniah, 1735-1807
PLATT, Zephaniah, (father of Jonas Platt), a Delegate from New York; born in
Huntington, Long Island, Suffolk County, N.Y., May 27, 1735; received an English education;
studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.;
Member of the Provincial Congress 1775-1777; member of the council of safety in 1777;
served in the State senate 1777-1783; Member of the Continental Congress in 1785 and 1786;
member of the council of appointment in 1778 and 1781; county judge of Dutchess County 1781-1795;
founded the town of Plattsburg in 1784; delegate to theState constitutional convention in 1788;
moved to Plattsburg, N.Y., in 1798 and continued the practice of law; regent of the
State university from 1791 until his death; one of the projectors of the Erie Canal;
died in Plattsburg, N.Y., September 12, 1807; interment in Riverside Cemetery.
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