Thomas S. Clarkson

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Thomas S. Clarkson
Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson III.jpg
BornThomas Streatfeild Clarkson III
(1837-11-30)November 30, 1837
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedAugust 19, 1894(1894-08-19) (aged 56)
Potsdam, New York, U.S.
EducationSt. Lawrence Academy
Known forNamesake of Clarkson University
Parent(s)Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson II
Elizabeth Clarkson

Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson III (November 30, 1837 – August 19, 1894) was an American businessman and philanthropist who was the namesake of Clarkson University.

Clarkson University university

Clarkson University is a private research university with its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in New York State's Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y. It was founded in 1896 and has an enrollment of about 4,300 students studying toward bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in each of its schools or institutes: the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Business and the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering. Clarkson University ranks #8 among "Top Salary-Boosting Colleges" nationwide. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies Clarkson University as a "Doctoral University [with] Moderate Research Activity".


Early life

Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson was born in 1837 to Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson II (1799–1873) and Elizabeth Clarkson (1810–1883), who were first cousins. [1] He had one brother, Levinus Clarkson (1835–1876), and three sisters, Elizabeth (1833–1918), Frederica (1846–1909), and Lavinia Clarkson (1842–1926). [2]

His paternal grandparents were Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson (1763-1844) and Elizabeth Van Horne (1771-1852). [3] [4] His uncle, David Augustus Clarkson (1793–1874), was married to Margaret Livingston (1808–1874), the daughter of Edward Philip Livingston (1779–1843), the Lt. Governor of New York from 1831 to 1832. His cousins included Elizabeth (née Clarkson) Barnwell (1830–1860) and Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson (1834–1898). [4] [5]

Edward Philip Livingston American politician

Edward Philip Livingston was an American politician.

Lieutenant Governor of New York

The Lieutenant Governor of New York is a constitutional office in the executive branch of the Government of the State of New York. It is the second highest-ranking official in state government. The lieutenant governor is elected on a ticket with the governor for a four-year term. Official duties dictated to the lieutenant governor under the present New York Constitution are to serve as president of the state senate, serve as acting governor in the absence of the governor from the state or the disability of the governor, or to become governor in the event of the governor's death, resignation or removal from office via impeachment. Additional statutory duties of the lieutenant governor are to serve on the New York Court for the Trial of Impeachments, the State Defense Council, and on the board of trustees of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

He attended the St. Lawrence Academy and then received private tutoring.


While the Clarkson family was wealthy from stock investments and real estate holdings, but required all of the sons to learn a trade, so Clarkson and his brother Levinus operated the family's farm until Levinus' death.

At this time, Clarkson engaged in other business endeavors in Potsdam, New York including developing local electrical power plants and the first sewer system in the area and operating large sandstone quarries on the Raquette River in 1877. Clarkson and a cousin founded the Potsdam Public Library and Reading Room and a tuition-free night school teaching mechanical drawing. Clarkson made a large donation to Trinity Episcopal Church in Potsdam in honor of his father. [6]

Potsdam, New York Town in New York, United States

Potsdam is a town in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The town population was 17,029 at the 2010 census. The ZIP Code is 13676. Potsdam is a cultural and educational hub of Northern New York. When SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University are in session, the population increases by approximately 8,000 students. The town is named after the city of Potsdam in Germany. The Town of Potsdam also contains a village named Potsdam. Potsdam is centrally located within the county and northeast of Canton, the county seat.

Raquette River river in the United States of America

The Raquette River, sometimes spelled Racquette, originates at Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. 146 miles (235 km) long, it is the third longest river entirely in the state of New York.

Trinity Episcopal Church (Potsdam, New York)

Trinity Episcopal Church is a historic Episcopal church located at Potsdam in St. Lawrence County, New York. It was built in 1835 in the Federal style with Gothic elements built of red Potsdam Sandstone. It was greatly enlarged and transformed into High Victorian Gothic style later in the 19th century, with less significant alterations continuing into the 20th century. The front facade of the church took its final form in 1886 and is a lavishly decorated Victorian Gothic creation, made possible by donations from Thomas S. Clarkson and his family. It features a 110-foot-tall (34 m), 19-by-19-foot four-level tower. Also on the property is a stone wall dating to 1870, a large cast iron urn dating to about 1880 and a cast iron lamppost on a sandstone base dating to 1880.


Clarkson was accidentally killed while working in his sandstone quarry not far from Potsdam. When a worker was in danger of being crushed by a loose pump, Clarkson pushed him out of the way risking his own life. Clarkson was crushed against a wall by the swinging pump, sunstaining severe internal injuries. He died five days later. The Clarkson family realized great wealth in the development of such quarries, and Potsdam sandstone was highly sought after by developers of townhouses in New York City and elsewhere. The family were important benefactors in the Potsdam area.

Quarry A place from which a geological material has been excavated from the ground

A quarry is a type of open-pit mine in which dimension stone, rock, construction aggregate, riprap, sand, gravel, or slate is excavated from the ground.


Brownstone is a brown Triassic-Jurassic sandstone which was once a popular building material. The term is also used in the United States to refer to a townhouse clad in this, or any of a number of aesthetically similar materials.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and thus also in the state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

After his death, Clarkson's three sisters decided to fund a school, which would be named after their brother. The school was founded in 1896 and was called the Thomas S. Clarkson Memorial School of Technology before it later became Clarkson University. [7] [2] Upon his niece, Annie Clarkson's, death in 1929, [8] she made the College her chief beneficiary. [9]

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  1. "BEQUEST TO A CHURCH IN POTSDAM". The New York Times . November 30, 1883. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  2. 1 2 "History & Facts". Clarkson University. Archived from the original on July 18, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  3. "Elizabeth Van Horne Clarkson | Honeycomb Quilt | American | The Met". The Metropolitan Museum of Art . Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  4. 1 2 Reynolds, Cuyler (1914). Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p. 1331. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  5. "Obituary 1 -- No Title". The New York Times . December 14, 1898. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  6. Curtis, Gates (1894). "History of Potsdam, NY Religious Societies". The Boston History Company. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  7. "Potsdam People". Potsdam Public Museum. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  8. "MISS ANNIE CLARKSON.; Benefactress of Clarkson College in Potsdam, N.Y., Dies at 73". The New York Times . October 3, 1929. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  9. "FOUNDERS' NIECE AIDS CLARKSON COLLEGE; Miss Annie Clarkson Made It Chief Beneficiary of Her Estate of More Than $300,000". The New York Times . October 8, 1929. Retrieved July 14, 2017.