Aaron Ogden

The New Netherland Ancestors of


Governor, Senator

		      __John Ogden5
		 __Jonathan Ogden4
		|    |
		|    |__Jane Bond5
	    __Robert Ogden3
	   |    |
	   |    |__Rebekah (possibly Wood)4
       __Robert Ogden2
      |    |
      |    |     __Jasper Crane3
      |    |    |
      |    |__Hannah Crane3
      |         |
      |         |__Joanna Swaine3
      |               __Matthias Hatfield6
      |              |
      |          __Isaac Hatfield6
      |         |    |
      |         |    |     __Cornelis Melyn6
      |         |    |    |
      |         |    |__Maria Melyn6
      |         |         |
      |         |         |__Janneken Adriaens6
      |         |
      |     __Matthias Hatfield2,6
      |    |    |
      |    |    |__Sarah Price7
      |    |
      |__Phebe Hatfield2
	   |__Hannah Miller2

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Biography of AARON OGDEN

ODGDEN, AARON (Dec. 3. 1756-Apr. 19, 1839), soldier, lawyer, United States senator, governor of New Jersey, steamboat operator, was born at Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), NJ, where his ancestor, John Ogden, had been a pioneer settler in 1664 after emigrating from Hampshire, England, to Long Island in 1640. Aaron was the son of Robert, at one time speaker of the colonial House of Assembly, and Phebe (Hatfield) Ogden. At sixteen he was graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) in the class of 1773 with "Light-Horse Harry" Lee and a year behind Aaron Burr, a boyhood companion. For three years he taught school, first at the Nassau Hall Grammar School and then at Barber's Grammar School in his native town. He had an active military career in the Revolution. His first exploit, with some Elizabethtown volunteers, was the capture of a British supply ship off Sandy Hook. From Nov. 26, 1776, until 1783, he was a "regular" officer in the 1st New Jersey, a line regiment of which his brother Matthias was finally colonel. .Aaron rose from first lieutenant to brigade major, serving all the way from Brandywine to Yorktown, where he led the van of Hamilton's regiment in storming a redoubt. He bore to Clinton Washington's proposal to exchange Andre for Arnold. At the close of the war he studied law with his brother Robert, becoming successively attorney, counselor, and sergeant-at-law.

In the years between the two wars with England, he was reckoned as one of the leaders of the New Jersey bar. He had "strong analytical and logical powers of mind," unusual industry and thoroughness, and considerable effectiveness as an orator, revealing intimate acquaintance with the classics. The title of "colonel" which was generally attached to him came from the French war scare between 1797 and 1800 when he commanded the provisional 15th Infantry and , was lieutenant-colonel of the 11th Infantry, as wel1 as deputy quartermaster-general of the army. For a number of years he was clerk of Essex County. A prominent Federalist, he was chosen United States senator in 1801 to fill the remaining two years of an unexpired term. He served as one of the commission which, in 1807, discussed the boundary between New York and New Jersey. His principal activity, however, was legal. He resided in Elizabethtown, where on Oct. 27, 1787, he had married Elizabeth, daughter of Judge John Chetwood. She bore him two daughters and five sons. In the fall of 1812, Ogden was elected governor of New Jersey on a peace ticket, but a year later the war party rallied and elected William S. Pennington. Madison nominated Ogden major-general in 1813, intending probably to give him a command in Canada. He declined the appointment, however, saying that he preferred to remain in command of the state militia for defense purposes.

The war period marked a turning point in Ogden's career. He turned from the law to a steamboat venture which wrecked his fortune. In 1811 he built the steamer Sea Horse, with engines designed by Daniel Dod, to run between Elizabethtown Point and New York City. In 1813, however, the New York legislature, upholding the Fulton-Livingston monopoly, barred his boat from New York waters. The New Jersey legislature's attempts at reprisal were unsuccessful, so in 1815 Ogden submitted to the monopoly and paid heavily for a ten-year monopoly of steamboat navigation between his native town and New York. That soon brought him into conflict with the rival line of the irascible Georgian, Thomas Gibbons. Both men were stubborn fighters and the monopoly case was fought from the New York courts, where Ogden was successful, to the United States Supreme Court, which in 1824 reversed the decision, giving the occasion for Marshall's celebrated opinion. The expensive litigation wrecked the fortune which Ogden had accumulated in law. His only satisfaction came when Gibbons came to his home with a challenge for a duel, whereupon Ogden won five thousand dollars in a trespass suit. In 1829 Congress created specially for him the post of collector of customs at Jersey City, which was thereafter his home. He was soon imprisoned for debt in New York, but, thanks apparently to Burr, the New York legislature rushed through a bill prohibiting the debt imprisonment of Revolutionary veterans. Ogden continued as collector until his death. He was a man of powerful physique and massive features, with an expression fully as truculent as that of his antagonist Gibbons.

Malone, Dumas, editor, Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. 13. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1934. 636-637.


Notes and Sources

   1.  Wheeler, William Ogden.  The Ogden Family in America.  Philadelphia:
       J.B. Lippincott Company, 1907.  135-138.
   2.  Ibid., p. 78-84.
   3.  Ibid., p. 58-60.
   4.  Ibid., p. 45-46.
   5.  Ibid., p. 39-40.
   6.  Burton, Paul Gibson, "Cornelis Melyn, Patroon of Staten Island and Some
       of His Descendants," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record,
       68 (1937):  3-17, 132-146, 217-231, 357-365.
   7.  Paul Burton (see Ref. 6) lists the wife of Matthias Hatfield as being
       unknown.  Unsourced information on various sites on the World Wide Web
       list her name as Sarah Price.


First uploaded 11 October 2001

Last Modified  Saturday, 08-Sep-2018 18:03:15 MDT

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