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).

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"William Paterson signed a mandate allowing the transfer of pounds 63,075 from the police to the Sheriff Clerk.
William Paterson College the expansion required for its growing business school.
"By coming together as a group, we were able to drive down the cost as a participating library," said Edward Owusu-Ansah, dean of the David and Lorraine Cheng Library at William Paterson University.
The event was hosted by William Paterson's Cotsakos College of Business last Wednesday through Friday.
Cell site engineer Dominic Kirsten told the High Court in Glasgow that two of the numbers he was asked to look at were attributed by police to murder accused William Paterson and two to former accused Ross Monaghan.
- Freshman Jerome Cohen had 25 points and eight rebounds, and senior Rajai Leggett added 17 points and five boards to lift the Becker College men's basketball team to a 69-53 victory over host William Paterson last night in a NCAA Division 3 Tournament first-round game at the Recreation Center.
This scene's uniqueness, argues MacLeod (history, William Paterson University), was a result of the area's bleak suburban milieu, which produced bands that played hard and fast in a reflection of the boredom and alienation of southern California's youth.
(LMB) is providing project management services for the construction of a dormitory facility and a communications center a William Paterson College in Wayne, New Jersey.
William Paterson University President Richard Helldobler gave an inaugural speech Friday at a ceremony where he took the reins of the Wayne institution.William Paterson University President Richard Helldobler gave an inaugural speech Friday at a ceremony where he took the reins of the Wayne institution.
The officer was giving William Paterson, 35, who allegedly murdered Carroll on January 13, 2010, at Asda Robroyston.
In this contribution to understanding America's increasingly multiracial society, Korgen (sociology, William Paterson U., Wayne, New Jersey) introduces 15 chapters that focus on the overlap of race and class in perceptions and portrayals of multiracial Americans.
William Paterson 85, Clark 47: Sophomore Ivory Aiken had 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists for the Cougars (0-2) as they fell to William Paterson (2-0) in the first round of Bridgewater State's D'Angelo Tip-Off Classic.