Abraham Yates
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Abraham Yates

Abraham Yates Jr.
Abraham Yates.jpg
Mayor of Albany, New York

1790 - June 30, 1796
John Lansing, Jr.
Abraham Ten Broeck
Member of the New York State Senate from the Western District

September 9, 1777 - June 30, 1790
Inaugural holder
Stephen Van Rensselaer
Personal details
BornAugust 23, 1724 (1724-08-23)
Albany, Province of New York, British America
DiedJune 30, 1796 (1796-07-01) (aged 71)
Albany, New York, United States
Political partyAnti-Federalist
Antje De Ridder
(m. 1746; died 1765)
RelationsRobert Yates (nephew)
Peter Waldron Yates (nephew)
Gerrit Y. Lansing (grandson)
OccupationLawyer, politician

Abraham Yates Jr. (August 23, 1724 - June 30, 1796) was an American lawyer, civil servant, and pamphleteer from Albany, New York.[1]

Early life

Yates was born on August 23, 1724, in Albany, New York.[2] He was the ninth child born to Christoffel Yates, a prosperous farmer and blacksmith, and Catelyntje Winne.[3] His siblings included Joseph Yates, a merchant, and John G. Yates, a blacksmith.[4]

His paternal grandparents were Joseph Yates and Albany native Huybertie (née Marselis) Yates.[5] His nephew, Robert Yates, who represented New York at the Philadelphia Convention.[6] Another nephew was Continental Congressman Peter Waldron Yates.[1]


After completing preparatory school, Yates was apprenticed to a shoemaker,[7] which later led his political foes to call him a "crude cobbler"[8] and Philip Schuyler to deride him as the "late cobbler of laws and old shoes".[9] An ambitious man, he went on to become a surveyor, investing in land, and then studied law with Peter Silvester, setting up a successful law practice. Eventually, Yates was appointed the Sheriff of Albany, serving from 1754 until 1759 under the agency of Robert Livingston Jr.[3]

From 1754 until 1773, he was elected and served on the Albany City Council where he was closely associated with the populist George Clinton (who eventually became the Vice President of the United States).[8] Yates' election was notable as the council was generally made up of wealthy merchants and he was the sole lawyer among the group, and was known for his attacks against the patrician landowners of the era and support for small farmers.[8] He was also known to be a forceful opponent of British oppression.[8]

From 1774 to 1776, he was the chairman of the Albany Committee of Correspondence. Yates was also a member of the New York Provincial Congress from 1775 to 1777, serving as president pro tempore on November 2, 1775, August 10, 1776,[1] and was its chairman in 1776 and 1777.[10]

Yates was a delegate for New York to the Congress of the Confederation in 1787 and 1788,[1] and won a reputation as a "churlish delegate who often cast the only 'nay'" vote.[9] Yates was the solitary vote against the Northwest Ordinance for its gross violation of Native American rights. He argued against "the seizing on countries already peopled, and driving out or massacring the innocent and defenceless natives, merely because they differed from their invaders in language, religion, in customs, in government or in colour."[11] He was also a member of the Council of Appointment in 1777-78 and again in 1784.[8]

New York State Senate

Commencing on September 9, 1777, Yates was a member of the 1st New York State Legislature, having been elected to represent one of six seats for the Western District, which consisted of Albany and Tryon counties.[12] He was re-elected several times and served thirteen consecutive sessions in the Senate until he declined re-election following his refusal to sign an oath to the U.S. Constitution.[13] He was succeeded by Stephen Van Rensselaer.[12] By the end of his time in the Senate, the Western District consisted of Albany, Columbia[14] and Montgomery counties.[12]

Yates, along with his fellow Anti-Federalist nephew Robert, with whom he shared the pen-name the "Rough Hewer", was a prolific pamphleteer. He was known for his strong Anti-Federalist writings around the encroachment of Federal powers over New York state affairs and his opposition to the ratification of the Constitution.[15] Both Yates were prominent opponents of the nationalist Federalist Alexander Hamilton.[9]

Mayor of Albany

Following his retirement from the State Senate, Yates old friend and the then New York Governor George Clinton appointed him as the mayor of Albany in 1790, a role he served in until his death in 1796.[16] As mayor, Yates opposed and was a vocal critic of the Federalist John Jay (who succeeded Clinton as Governor and appointed Stephen Van Rensselaer as his Lt. Governor) following the Jay Treaty, which was a 1795 treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain which purportedly averted war between the countries and resolved issues remaining since the Treaty of Paris of 1783 (which ended the American Revolutionary War). The opposition led to the formation of the anti-Treaty Democratic Republican party in New York.[8] During his term, oil street lamps were installed in Albany.[17]

Yates was a presidential elector in 1792, and cast his votes for George Washington and George Clinton. In 1795, Yates was also a founding trustee of Union College.[18][19]

Personal life

In 1746, Yates was married to Antje De Ridder (1726-1795), the daughter of Cornelis De Ridder and Susanna (née Vandenbergh) De Ridder. Together, they were the parents of five children, Christoffel, another Christoffel, Tanneke, Cornelis, only one of whom survived to adulthood:[6]

Yates died in Albany on June 30, 1796,[20] and was buried at Albany Rural Cemetery.[1]


Through his only surviving child Susanna, he was the grandfather of fourteen, including:[21] Jannetje, who died unmarried;[21] Abraham, who died young;[21]Gerrit Yates, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives who married Helen Ten Eyck (daughter of Abraham Ten Eyck);[21] Cornelius De Ridder;[21] John, who died unmarried;[21] Antje, who died young;[21] Sanders Jr., who married Angelica Schuyler;[21] Christopher Yates, who married Caroline Mary Thomas;[22] Anna, who married Rev. Walter Monteath;[21] Sarah B., who died unmarried;[21] Susan, who married Peter Gansevoort;[21] Barent Bleecker, who married Philanda Orcutt;[21] George, married Harriet Schermerhorn (daughter of John F. Schermerhorn).[21] and Abraham Yates, who married Eliza Van Alstyne.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d e "YATES, Abraham - Biographical Information". bioguide.congress.gov. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ Dodge, Andrew R.; Koed, Betty K.; et al. (United States Congress) (2005). Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005. Government Printing Office. p. 2208. ISBN 9780160731761.
  3. ^ a b Shorto, Russell (Summer 2016). "The Sheriff of Albany County | With a lively resentment toward authority, Abraham Yates Jr. was Colonial Albany's everyman" (PDF). New York Archives: 12-15. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 3, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ "Avalon Project - Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787, Taken by the Late Hon Robert Yates, Chief Justice of the State of New York, and One of the Delegates from That State to the Said Convention". avalon.law.yale.edu. Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ Bielinski, Stefan. "Christoffel Yates". exhibitions.nysm.nysed.gov. New York State Museum. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Bielinski, Stefan. "Abraham Yates, Jr". exhibitions.nysm.nysed.gov. New York State Museum. Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 17
  8. ^ a b c d e f Wakelyn, Jon L. (2004). Birth of the Bill of Rights: Biographies. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 237. ISBN 9780313331947. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Young, Alfred F. (2012). The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763-1797. UNC Press Books. p. 44. ISBN 9780807838204. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ "Abraham Yates, Jr. papers". archives.nypl.org. Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. Archived from the original on July 25, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ Alexander, Robert (2017). The Northwest Ordinance: Constitutional Politics and the Theft of Native Land. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 148. ISBN 978-1-4766-2761-8.
  12. ^ a b c Hough, Franklin Benjamin (1858). The New York Civil List: Containing the names and origin of the civil divisions, and the names and dates of election or appointment of the principal state and county officers from the Revolution to the present time. Weed, Parsons and Co. pp. 48-52, 108, 110, 114. Retrieved 2018.
  13. ^ Siemers, David J. (2004). Ratifying the Republic: Antifederalists and Federalists in Constitutional Time. Stanford University Press. pp. 37-38. ISBN 9780804751032. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ The Civil List of 1858 places Columbia Co. in the Eastern D. but this is contradicted by Schechter (pg. 181). Columbia was partitioned from Albany, and no senatorial re-apportionment being made must have remained in the Western D., it was transferred to the Eastern D. only in 1791.
  15. ^ Kauffman, Bill (2014). Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: The Life of Martin Luther. Open Road Media. p. 28. ISBN 9781497635753. Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ Young, Alfred F. (2012). The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763-1797. UNC Press Books. p. 166. ISBN 9780807838204. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ Reynolds, Cuyler (1906). Albany Chronicles: A History of the City Arranged Chronologically, from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time; Illustrated with Many Historical Pictures of Rarity and Reproductions of the Robert C. Pruyn Collection of the Mayors of Albany, Owned by the Albany Institute and Historical and Art Society. J. B. Lyon Company, printers. p. 269. Retrieved 2018.
  18. ^ Union College (Schenectady N.Y.); Pearson, Jonathan (1854). A General Catalogue of the Officers, Graduates and Students of Union College from 1795 to 1854. S. S. Riggs. p. 6. Retrieved 2018.
  19. ^ Howell, George Rogers (1886). Bi-Centennial History of Albany: History of the County of Albany, N.Y., from 1609 to 1886. W. W. Munsell & Company. p. 679. Retrieved 2018.
  20. ^ Bielinski, Stefan. "Abraham Yates, Jr". www.nysm.nysed.gov. New York State Museum. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved 2018.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Reynolds, Cuyler; Sullivan, Robert G. (1911). Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs | Vol. I | Lansing. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. pp. 72-74. Retrieved 2017.
  22. ^ Talcott, Sebastian V. (2001). Genealogical Notes Of New York And New England Families. Heritage Books. ISBN 9780788419560. Retrieved 2017.

External links

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