Nathaniel Chipman
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Nathaniel Chipman

Nathaniel Chipman
Nathaniel Chipman (US Senator from Vermont).jpg
Chipman, circa 1800
United States Senator
from Vermont

October 17, 1797 - March 3, 1803
Isaac Tichenor
Israel Smith
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont

March 4, 1791 - January 1, 1793
George Washington
Seat established by 1 Stat. 197
Samuel Hitchcock
Personal details
Nathaniel Chipman

(1752-11-15)November 15, 1752
Salisbury, Connecticut Colony, British America
DiedFebruary 13, 1843(1843-02-13) (aged 90)
Tinmouth, Vermont
Resting placeTinmouth Cemetery
Tinmouth, Vermont
Political partyFederalist
Spouse(s)Sarah Hill Chipman
ChildrenHenry C. Chipman
RelativesDaniel Chipman
John Logan Chipman
John W. Brownson
EducationYale University

Nathaniel Chipman (November 15, 1752 – February 13, 1843) was an American politician who served as a United States Senator from Vermont and Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court. A Yale College graduate and Continental Army veteran of the American Revolution, Chipman became a prominent attorney and advocate for Vermont statehood. When Vermont was admitted to the Union, he served as the first judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont.

After Vermont became the fourteenth state, Chipman became a leader of its Federalist Party. In addition to his legal and political work, Chipman authored several works on government and law, served for 28 years as Professor of Law at Middlebury College, and was a satirical poet.

Education and career

Born on November 15, 1752, in Salisbury, Connecticut Colony, British America,[1] Chipman was privately tutored and graduated from Yale University in 1777.[1][2] He served as a lieutenant in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War from 1777 to 1778.[1][2] He was admitted to the bar and entered private practice in Tinmouth, Vermont Republic from 1779 to 1784, and from 1785 to 1787.[1] He was a state's attorney in Montpelier, Vermont Republic from 1781 to 1785.[1] He was a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from 1784 to 1785.[1] He was a justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont from 1787 to 1789, and served as chief justice from 1790 to 1791.[1]

Role in admission of Vermont to the Union

On February 9, 1791, Chipman met with President George Washington to notify him officially of Vermont's decision to apply for admission to the Union as the 14th state.[3] New York had long objected to the existence of the government of Vermont on the grounds that Vermont was part of New York, a position that dated back to a pre-Revolutionary War dispute between the colonial governors of New York and New Hampshire over the right to sell Vermont land grants.[4] In 1790, New York agreed to give up its claim provided that an agreement on the boundary between Vermont and New York could be concluded.[5] In consideration of New York giving up its claim to Vermont, Vermont paid $30,000 as an indemnity to owners of Vermont land who had received their grants from New York (about $800,000 in 2015).[6] On February 18, 1791, Congress decided to admit Vermont to the Union, effective March 4, 1791.[7]

Federal judicial service

Following the admission of the State of Vermont to the Union, President George Washington nominated Chipman as the first judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont, a new seat authorized by 1 Stat. 197.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 4, 1791, and received his commission the same day.[1] He resigned on January 1, 1793.[1] Later, he authored the book Sketches of the Principles of Government

State service

Following his resignation from the federal bench, Chipman resumed private practice in Tinmouth from 1793 to 1796.[1] He served as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont from 1796 to 1798.[1]

Congressional service

Chipman was elected as a Federalist from Vermont to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of United States Senator Isaac Tichenor and served from October 17, 1797 until March 3, 1803.[2][8] He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection.[2]

Later career

Following his departure from Congress, Chipman resumed practicing law in Tinmouth.[1] He was a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from 1806 to 1809 and in 1811.[1] He was a member of the Vermont Council of Censors in 1813.[1] He was chief justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont from 1813 to 1815.[1][9] He was a Professor of law at Middlebury College starting in 1816.[1][10]


Chipman died on February 17, 1843, in Tinmouth.[1] He was interred in Tinmouth Cemetery.[2][11]


Chipman was the brother of Daniel Chipman, a United States representative from Vermont, and the grandfather of John Logan Chipman, a United States Representative from Michigan,[2] In 1781, Chipman married Sarah Hill (1762-1831), they had six children, including Henry C. Chipman.[12] Another son, Jeffrey Chipman, was a Justice of the Peace in Canandaigua, New York in the 1820s, and was the jurist from whom those attempting to prevent William Morgan from publishing a book opposing Freemasonry obtained an arrest warrant for Morgan, which eventually led to Morgan's disappearance and presumed death and the founding of the Anti-Masonic Party.[13]

Chipman was the grandfather of John W. Brownson, a member of the New York State Senate.[12] [14] Brownson was the son of Dr. John Brownson and Nathaniel Chipman's daughter Laura.[12] [14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Nathaniel Chipman at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c d e f United States Congress. "Nathaniel Chipman (id: C000369)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  3. ^ U.S. House of Representatives (1826). Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States: 1st-13th Congresses. Vol. 1. Washington, DC: Gales & Seaton. p. 412.
  4. ^ Sarah D., Brooks Blair (2008). Reforming Methodism: 1800-1820. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest, LLC. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-2435-3411-8.
  5. ^ Hildreth, Richard (1875). The History of the United States of America. Vol. 4. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers. pp. 268-269. ISBN 9780608355610 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Foley, Janet Wethy (1940). Early Settlers of New York State: Their Ancestors and Descendants; Part One. Vol. I-III. Westminster, MD: Heritage Books. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-7884-3711-3.
  7. ^ Donaldson, Thomas (1880). The Public Domain: Its History, with Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government printing Office. p. 42. 1790 new york give up claim vermont admission union.
  8. ^ "Nathaniel Chipman". Govtrack. US Congress. Retrieved 2012.
  9. ^ Vermont State Archives and Records Administration (2017). "Justices of the Vermont Supreme Court, 1778-Present" (PDF). Montpelier, VT: Vermont Secretary of State. p. 2.
  10. ^ Nathaniel Chipman. Encyclopedia, Vermont Biography. 1912. p. 367. Retrieved 2012. Charles M. Smith governor of vermont biography.
  11. ^ "Nathaniel Chipman". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2012.
  12. ^ a b c Chipman, Bert Lee (1920). The Chipman Family: A Genealogy of the Chipmans in America, 1631-1920. Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Winston Printing Company. pp. 50, 105-109. nathaniel chipman.
  13. ^ Conover, Jefferson S. (1897). Freemasonry in Michigan: A Comprehensive History of Michigan Masonry, Volume 1. Coldwater, Michigan: Conover Printing Company. p. 145.
  14. ^ a b Brownson, Ernest Ray (1951). Genealogy of One Branch of the Richard Brownson Family, 1631-1951. Mayville, ND: E. R. Brownson. pp. 222-223 – via Internet Archive.


External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 1 Stat. 197

Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 1) from Vermont
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Oldest living United States senator
Succeeded by

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