Elias Boudinot : biography
Elias Boudinot ( ; May 2, 1740 – October 24, 1821) was a lawyer and statesman from Elizabeth, New Jersey who was a delegate to the Continental Congress and served as President of the Continental Congress from 1782 to 1783. He was elected as a U.S. Congressman for New Jersey following the American Revolutionary War. He was appointed by President George Washington as Director of the United States Mint, serving from 1795 until 1805.
- “Be religiously careful in our choice of all public officers…and judge of the tree by its fruits.”
- "Good government generally begins in the family, and if the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow."
In 1760, Boudinot was admitted to the bar, and began his practice in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He owned land adjacent to the road from Elizabethtown to Woodbridge Township, New Jersey.
Marriage and family
After getting established, on April 21, 1762, Boudinot married Hannah Stockton (1736–1808), Richard’s younger sister. They had two children, Maria Boudinot, who died at age two, and Susan Vergereau Boudinot.
Susan married William Bradford, who became Chief Justice of Pennsylvania and Attorney General under George Washington. After her husband’s death in 1795, Susan Boudinot Bradford returned to her parents’ home to live. The young widow edited her father’s papers. Now held by Princeton University, these provide significant insight into the events of the Revolutionary era.
In 1805, Elias, Hannah and Susan moved to a new home in Burlington, New Jersey. Hannah died a few years after their move, and Elias lived there for the remainder of his years.
In his later years, Boudinot invested and speculated in land. He owned large tracts in Ohio including most of Green Township in what is now the western suburbs of Cincinnati, where there is a street bearing his surname. At his death, he willed to the city of Philadelphia for parks and city needs.
Early life and education
Elias Boudinot was born in Philadelphia on May 2, 1740. His father, Elias Boudinot III, was a merchant and silversmith; he was a neighbor and friend of Benjamin Franklin. His mother, Mary Catherine Williams, was born in the British West Indies; her father was from Wales. Elias’ paternal grandfather, Elie (sometimes called Elias) Boudinot, was the son of Jean Boudinot and Marie Suire of Marans, Aunis, France. They were a Huguenot (French Protestant) family who fled to New York about 1687 to avoid the religious persecutions of King Louis XIV.
Mary Catherine Williams and Elias Boudinot, Sr. were married on August 8, 1729. Over the next twenty years, they had nine children. The first, John, was born in the British West Indies-Antigua. Of the others, only the younger Elias and his siblings Annis, Mary, and Elisha reached adulthood. Annis became one of the first published women poets in the Thirteen Colonies, and her work appeared in leading newspapers and magazines. Elisha Boudinot became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
After studying and being tutored at home, Elias Boudinot went to Princeton, New Jersey to read the law as a legal apprentice to Richard Stockton. An attorney, he had married Elias’ older sister Annis Boudinot. Richard Stockton was later a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.
Legacy and honors
- Princeton University Library holds the Boudinot-Stockton papers, as well as many family possessions and portraits.
- Elias Boudinot Elementary School in Burlington, New Jersey is named after him, as are the following:
- Boudinot Street in Philadelphia, located between C and D Streets.
- Boudinot Avenue in Western Hills, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Boudinot Place in Elizabeth, New Jersey
- Boudinot Street in Princeton, New Jersey.
- Boudinot Lane in Franklin Township, New Jersey
The Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has a related to Boudinot from 1777-1821 in its holdings. The correspondence dating from 1777-1778 almost exclusively deals with the trading and releasing of prisoners.