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Van Rensselaer, Stephen (1764-1839)

Name: Van Rensselaer, Stephen (1764-1839)


Historical Note:

Fifth in direct descent from Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, the first Patroon, Stephen Van Rensselaer inherited a vast landed estate in Rensselaer and Albany counties at the age of five. He graduated from Harvard in 1782 and spent time in New York state government and as a member of the U.S. Congress (1822-29). His chief services to New York, however, were economic and educational. He was a member of the Erie Canal commissions and president of the state's first board of agriculture. He was the landlord for 3,000 tenants on Rensselaerswyck, his nearly 1,200 square mile estate and the founder and supporter of a wide variety of social, educational, business, and governmental institutions.

In 1783 Van Rensselaer married Margarita Schuyler, the daughter of General Philip Schuyler. Following her death in 1801 he married Cornelia Paterson, daughter of former New Jersey Governor William Paterson

In 1824 it was Van Rensselaer’s vision and support that enabled Amos Eaton to establish the Rensselaer School “for the purpose of instructing persons, who may choose to apply themselves, in the application of science to the common purposes of life.”





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