Yates, Joseph C(hristopher) (b Schenectady, 9 Nov 1768; d Schenectady, 19 Mar 1837). Governor.
Son of patriot merchant and surveyor Christopher Yates and Jane Bradt, he studied with tutors and at local schools before clerking with Albany attorney Peter W. Yates. In 1791 he began a Schenectady law practice. Yates helped found Union College and served as mayor of Schenectady (1798–1808) and New York State senator (1805–7) before becoming a New York State Supreme Court justice in 1808. A presidential elector for De Witt Clinton in 1812, Yates refused to run for governor against Clinton in 1817. Shifting toward Clinton’s Bucktail Republican opposition in 1821, Yates supported revision of the 1777 Constitution; he appeared comfortable with the constitutional convention’s elimination of the Council of Appointment and Council of Revision. Nominated for governor by an 1822 Bucktail caucus, he won easily.Yates subsequently incurred opposition by failing initially to endorse the popular election of presidential electors under a state law, by recommending two anti-Bucktails to the supreme court, and because he was obliged to settle disputed nominations of justices of the peace.
When the Bucktails rejected him as their gubernatorial candidate in 1824, Yates called a special session to pass an electoral law, but it failed. The People’s Party successfully backed De Witt Clinton, and Yates retired to Schenectady. He served as a presidential elector for Andrew Jackson in 1828 and presided over a meeting called in 1832 to protest the rejection of Martin Van Buren’s nomination as minister to Great Britain. Yates’s last years were spent in retirement, disturbed, according to James Kent, by a ward’s charges that he had behaved fraudulently as a guardian.
Hanyan,Craig,with Mary Hanyan.De Witt Clinton and
the Rise of the People’s Men (Montreal: McGill-
Queen’s Univ Press, 1996)
Craig and Mary L. Hanyan
Peter Eisenstadt, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York State
(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), [p. 1736].
© Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.