George Washington commented in his diary that the home of Governor John Langdon, “may be esteemed the first” among the homes in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Constructed in 1784, the house projected John Langdon’s status in the community. A ship’s captain, international merchant, militia Colonel, and one of the U.S.’s Founding Fathers, Langdon served in the Continental Congress for one year and later supervised the construction of warships for America’s Revolutionary Navy. He was a U.S. Senator, Governor of New Hampshire, and State legislator. Langdon lived in the home from 1785 until he died in 1819.
Langdon’s family was one Portsmouth’s early settlers.
Captaining a cargo ship involved in West Indies trade before he was 22 years
old, Langdon owned his first merchant ship by age 26. Eventually Langdon owned
a fleet that was involved in the triangle trade between the Caribbean, colonial
North America, and London.1 John and his older brother Woodbury quickly became
Portsmouth’s wealthiest citizens.2 With British efforts to raise revenue by
regulating trade and imposing taxes, both brothers entered the political field.
John was quick to take up revolutionary ideals while his brother espoused a
more conservative position.3 John and Woodbury were both elected to serve in
the New Hampshire Legislature in 1774.4 John further involved himself in the
move toward revolution by serving on non-Importation Committees, and the New
Hampshire Committee of Correspondence.5
With the outbreak
of the Revolution, Langdon represented New Hampshire at the First Continental
Congress. One of his roles there was on the committee that established the U.S.
Navy. Congress appointed him as the Marine Agent for New Hampshire, a role that
saw him establish a shipyard for the construction of America’s first warships.
Weapons distribution was one of his responsibilities.6 In 1777, Langford began
serving in the New Hampshire Legislature. He also was heavily involved in the
organizing New Hampshire’s Militia. Langdon led a unit that was involved in the
surrender of British General John Burgoyne.7
political career continued after the Revolution ended, serving in the
Continental Congress in 1787, and was also a representative to the
Constitutional Convention.8 John Langdon is one of the signers of the
Constitution of The United States.9 He served in the U.S. Senate from 1789 to
1801. He was a member of the New Hampshire Legislature from 1801 to 1805. From
1805 to 1811, excepting 1809, Langdon was the Governor of New Hampshire.
Langdon was nominated to be Vice President of the United States, but declined