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Aaron Ogden
5th Governor of New Jersey
In office
October 29, 1812 – October 29, 1813
Preceded byJoseph Bloomfield
Succeeded byWilliam Sanford Pennington
United States Senator
from New Jersey
In office
February 28, 1801 – March 3, 1803
Preceded byJames Schureman
Succeeded byJohn Condit
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
In office
Personal details
Born(1756-12-03)December 3, 1756
Elizabethtown, Province of New Jersey, British America
DiedApril 19, 1839(1839-04-19) (aged 82)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyFederalist
SpouseElizabeth Chetwood
RelationsMatthias Ogden (brother)
Frederick Ogden (grandson)
William Chetwood (brother-in-law)
Children7, including Elias
Alma materCollege of New Jersey
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service Continental Army
RankBrigade major
Unit1st New Jersey Regiment
Battles/warsRevolutionary War

Aaron Ogden (December 3, 1756 – April 19, 1839) was an American soldier, lawyer, United States Senator and the fifth governor of New Jersey.[1] Ogden is perhaps best known today as the complainant in Gibbons v. Ogden which destroyed the monopoly power of steamboats on the Hudson River in 1824.[2][3]

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Early life

Ogden was born in Elizabethtown (known today as "Elizabeth") in the Province of New Jersey. He was the son of Robert Ogden, a lawyer and public official who served as Speaker of the New Jersey lower house immediately preceding the Revolution,[3] and Phebe (née Hatfield) Ogden.[4] Ogden's brother Matthias Ogden (1754–1791) was a Revolutionary War soldier and his nephew, Daniel Haines, also served as Governor of New Jersey on two separate occasions.[5]

Ogden, a Presbyterian, graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1773, and served as a grammar school tutor from 1773 to 1775.[6]


In the American Revolutionary War, Ogden was appointed a lieutenant in the 1st New Jersey Regiment; his older brother Matthias Ogden was the lieutenant colonel. Aaron Ogden served in various roles through the war, seeing action and rising to the rank of brigade major.[7] In 1778, he visited the house occupied by the family of diarist Sally Wister, who described him as "a genteel young fellow, with an aquiline nose."[8] Ogden was wounded at the siege of Yorktown in 1781.[9]

Ogden was admitted as an original member of The Society of the Cincinnati in the state of New Jersey when it was established in 1783.[10][11] He went on to serve as the President of the New Jersey Society from 1824 until his death in 1839, and President General of The Society of the Cincinnati from 1829 until his death.[9][12]

Political career

After the war, Ogden studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1784. He commenced practice in Elizabeth and served as a presidential elector in the 1796 electoral college that elected John Adams. He was clerk of Essex County from 1785 to 1803, and was elected as a Federalist to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of James Schureman and served from February 28, 1801, to March 3, 1803. He lost his bid for re-election to the Senate in 1802.[1]

In 1803, Ogden was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, where he served until 1812. Ogden was elected trustee of the College of New Jersey (later to become Princeton University) in 1803, a post in which he served until his death.[1]

In 1812, Ogden was elected as Governor of New Jersey in a wave of Federalist victories across the state due to opposition to the War of 1812.[3] Ogden had been nominated by his Federalist colleagues as governor many times before, but the Republicans held the majority in the Assembly and elected their choice from 1803 to 1812.[3] During his term as governor, "funds were secured for the military's use in the war against Britain."[13] After running unsuccessfully for re-election, the Federalists lost their majority in the Assembly and Ogden retired from political life.[3] Ogden was nominated by President James Madison as major general of the Army in 1813, but declined the appointment.[1]

Steamboat operations

In 1811, he became engaged in steamboat navigation by building the steamboat Sea Horse to run between Elizabeth and New York City.[14] In 1812, in Livingston v. Van Ingen, the courts chose to upheld a steamboat monopoly over the Hudson River.[15][16] In 1813, the New York State Legislature further upheld the monopoly created by Chancellor Robert Livingston and Robert Fulton, who had designed the steamboat.[17] In response, Ogden agreed to pay them for a ten-year monopoly to run his line.[14]

As a result of a feud with his neighbor and competing steamboat operator who violated the statutory monopoly, Thomas Gibbons, Ogden filed the complaint in Gibbons v. Ogden, seeking to enjoin Gibbons from operating a steamboat on New York waters.[18] As a result, the United States Supreme Court declared unconstitutional New York's attempted monopoly on steamboat operation between New York and New Jersey based on the Commerce Clause.[19] In the case, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1824, Ogden was represented by Samuel L. Southard and Joseph Hopkinson, while Livingston was represented by Thomas Addis Emmet, and Gibbons by Daniel Webster and U.S. Attorney General William Wirt.[20]

Later life

Ogden moved to Jersey City in 1829 and resumed the practice of law. It was in Jersey City where he was arrested for debt and sent to a debtors' prison.[9] He was released several months later under an act of the Legislature that provided "that no Revolutionary officer or soldier should be imprisoned for debt. The law was so framed as to cover the case of Col. Ogden, and he was released."[9] In 1830, he was appointed as Collector of Customs of Jersey City, an office created specifically for him by an act of Congress,[9] and served until his death in Jersey City.[1]

Personal life

Aaron Ogden Monument, First Presbyterian Churchyard, Elizabeth, NJ

Ogden was married to Elizabeth Chetwood (1766–1826), the daughter of John Chetwood, an attorney, and Mary (née Emott) Chetwood (d. 1786). She was the older sister of U.S. Representative and Mayor of Elizabeth William Chetwood (1771–1857). Together, they were the parents of:[9]

Ogden died in Jersey City, New Jersey on April 19, 1839. Ogden's body is interred at the burial ground of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth.[1] Ogden Street in Trenton, New Jersey is named in his honor.[21]

He was a slaveholder.[22]


Through his son Elias, he was the grandfather of Frederick Beasley Ogden (1827–1893), who served as Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey from 1865 to 1867; Aaron Ogden (1828–1896), who married Harriet Emily Travers; and Susan Dayton Ogden (1831–1878), who married William Shepard Biddle, and were the parents of U.S. Army general John Biddle.[23]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "OGDEN, Aaron - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  2. ^ "Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824)". Justia Law. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e Birkner, Michael J.; Linky, Donald; Mickulas, Peter (2014). The Governors of New Jersey: Biographical Essays. Rutgers University Press. p. 1789. ISBN 9780813571775.
  4. ^ "The New Netherlands Ancestors of Aaron Ogden". Rootsweb.
  5. ^ Longacre, James Barton (1834). The National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans. Bancroft. p. 79. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  6. ^ Denslow, William R. (1959). 10,000 Famous Freemasons from K to Z, Volume 3. Missouri Lodge of Research. p. 282. ISBN 9781417975792.
  7. ^ Legislative history of the General staff of the Army of the United States: (its organization, duties, pay, and allowances), from 1775 to 1901. Government Printing Office. 1901. p. 60.
  8. ^ Sally Wister, ‘‘Sally Wister's Journal: A True Narrative: Being a Quaker Maiden's Account of Her Experiences with Officers of the Continental Army, 1777–1779’’. Applewood Books, Bedford, Massachusetts, 1994. Entry for May 11, 1778.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Alstyne, Lawrence Van; Ogden, Charles Burr (1907). The Ogden family in America, Elizabethtown branch, and their English ancestry: John Ogden, the Pilgrim, and his descendants, 1640-1906. Printed for private circulation by J.B. Lippincott company. p. 138. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  10. ^ Metcalf, Bryce (1938). Original Members and Other Officers Eligible to the Society of the Cincinnati, 1783–1938: With the Institution, Rules of Admission, and Lists of the Officers of the General and State Societies Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Publishing House, Inc., p. 239.
  11. ^ "Officers Represented in the Society of the Cincinnati". The American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  12. ^ "Aaron Ogden | The Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey". Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  13. ^ "Aaron Ogden". National Governors Association. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Steamboats on the Hudson: An American Saga - Aaron Ogden". New York State Library. Archived from the original on April 9, 2018. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  15. ^ "Livingston v. Van Ingen | New York Steamboat Monopoly". The Historical Society of the New York Courts. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  16. ^ "Gibbons v. Ogden". The Historical Society of the New York Courts. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  17. ^ Athearn, Robert G. (1988). American Heritage Illustrated History of the United States. Choice Pub. p. 164. ISBN 9780945260059. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  18. ^ "Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824)". Justia Law. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  19. ^ "Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824)". Justia Law. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  20. ^ Cox, Thomas H. (2009). Gibbons v. Ogden, Law, and Society in the Early Republic. Ohio University Press. ISBN 9780821418468. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  21. ^ "Trenton Historical Society, New Jersey".
  22. ^ Weil, Julie Zauzmer; Blanco, Adrian; Dominguez, Leo (January 20, 2022). "More than 1,700 congressmen once enslaved Black people. This is who they were, and how they shaped the nation". Washington Post. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  23. ^ Owen Picton (May 2004). "Descendants of William Biddle III". Archived from the original on November 18, 2010. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  • Baxter, Maurice G. Dictionary of American Biography
  • The Steamboat Monopoly: Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972.
  • Ogden, Aaron. Autobiography of Col. Aaron Ogden, of Elizabethtown. Paterson, NJ: Press Printing & Publishing Co., 1893.
  • Purcell, L. Edward. Who Was Who in the American Revolution. New York: Facts on File, 1993. ISBN 0-8160-2107-4.

External links

U.S. Senate
Preceded by  U.S. senator (Class 1) from New Jersey
Served alongside: Jonathan Dayton
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by President General of the Society of the Cincinnati
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 2 May 2024, at 05:27
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