Paterson, William

(redirected from William Paterson)
Also found in: Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Paterson, William

William Paterson.

William Paterson was a distinguished public servant during the early years of the Republic of the United States, serving as governor of New Jersey, a Framer of the U.S. Constitution, a U.S. senator, and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In recognition of his service to New Jersey, the city of Paterson was named for him. Paterson was born on December 24, 1745, in County Antrim, Ireland. He emigrated with his family to New Jersey in 1747 and graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1763. He was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1768, establishing a law practice in New Bromley, New Jersey.

He entered government in 1775, serving in the New Jersey Provincial Congress. He became attorney general of New Jersey in 1776, holding the position for seven years. During this period he briefly served in the New Jersey Senate. He also participated in the New Jersey State Constitutional Convention in 1776.

Paterson played a key role in the U.S. Constitutional Convention, which was held in Philadelphia in 1787. As a delegate from New Jersey, Paterson sought to protect his and other small states from demands by larger states that representation be based on population. Paterson offered an alternative to the large-state proposition, or Virginia Plan. His New Jersey Plan went to the other extreme. He proposed that each state have one vote in Congress. Out of this conflict came the compromise that created two houses of Congress, with the House of Representatives based on population and the Senate on equal representation (two votes per state). The compromise also led to the creation of the Supreme Court in Article III of the U.S. Constitution. Paterson, who signed the Constitution, was a strong supporter of the document and campaigned for its adoption in New Jersey.

He was elected to the Senate in 1789 and was one of the authors of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which created the federal legal structure of Supreme Court, circuit court, and district court. The act created the office of attorney general and gave the Supreme Court the appellate jurisdiction to review state court decisions that involved the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties.

Paterson resigned in 1790 to run for governor of New Jersey. Easily elected, he left the governorship in 1793 when President George Washington appointed him an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His tenure on the Court revealed him to be a strong supporter of the federal government and an independent judiciary. His role as a Framer lent credibility to his conclusions as to what was the "original intent" of the drafters of the Constitution.

As a circuit judge (in that period Supreme Court justices also rode circuit), he conducted the Treason trials of the participants in the Whiskey Rebellion, a revolt in 1794 against the excise tax on whiskey imposed by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. He later presided over the trials of prominent Democratic-Republicans who were charged with Sedition for criticizing President John Adams.

Paterson died on September 9, 1806, in Albany, New York.

Further readings

O'Connor, John E. 1979. William Paterson, Lawyer and Statesman, 1745–1806. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press.


Constitution of the United States; "The New Jersey, or Paterson, Plan" (Appendix, Primary Document).

References in periodicals archive ?
The worker checked their system and found that the William Paterson I was looking for had already been uplifted.
Dean, who's at the forefront of building Utah Valley University's financial planning degree programs, helped do the same from the ground up at William Paterson.
He is a member of the adjunct faculty of Bergen Community College, William Paterson University, and formerly at Belmont University and the New School.
Geraffo holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from William Paterson University, a master's degree in business administration, finance, from Farleigh Dickinson University, and is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program.
But Scots pair William Paterson and Derek "Deco" Ferguson are still at large and believed to be hiding out in Spain.
He also holds a master of philosophy degree from CUNY Graduate School and University Center; a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy, having graduated magna cum laude from William Paterson University; and an associate in applied science degree in music, having graduated cum laude from Nassau Community College.
The New Jersey Plan, fathered by William Paterson of the Springsteen State, was the small-f federal option at the Constitutional Convention.
THE Anderson shelter was designed in 1938 by William Paterson and Oscar Carl Kerrison in response to a request from the Home Office.
in Business from William Paterson University and an MBA in Business from Colorado State University.
Chemistry master Dr William Paterson said: "Their experiment using enzymes to purify water has advanced tremendously.
William Paterson University ("WPU"), Nautilus Solar Energy, LLC ("Nautilus Solar") and SunDurance Energy, LLC ("SunDurance") have announced an agreement to build the largest solar energy facility at a university in the United States.
The Star quoted William Paterson as saying that the World Wide Web, along with unregulated education in the rural areas of some countries, is the heart of transmission for terrorist ideologies and franchises.