Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LYON, Matthew, politician, born in County Wick-low, Ireland, in 1746; died in Spadra Bluff, Arkansas, 1 August, 1822. He emigrated at the age of thirteen to New York, and, as he was unable to pay for his passage, the captain of the ship, in accordance with the custom of the time, assigned him for a sum of money to a farmer in Litchfield county, Connecticut, in whose service he remained for several years. He then became a citizen of Vermont, and in July, 1776, was commissioned as lieutenant in a company of " Green Mountain Boys." In the latter part of the same year he was cashiered for deserting a post on Onion river, but subsequently served as commissary-general, and eventually became colonel of militia. He was made deputy secretary in 1778, and subsequently clerk of the court of confiscation. After the war he settled in Vermont and was elected to the state legislature, where he served for four successive years. He founded the town of Fair Haven, Vermont, in 1783, built saw-mills and grist-mills, established an iron-foundry, manufactured paper from bass-wood, and issued a Democratic newspaper entitled " The Scourge of Aristocracy, and Repository of Important Political Truth," of which the types and paper were manufactured by himself. He represented Fair Haven in the legislature for ten years, and in 1786 was assistant judge of Rutland county court. He married a daughter of Governor Thomas Chittenden, became an active political leader, and was elected to congress by the anti-Federal party, serving' from 15 May, 1797, till 3 March, 1801. In October, 1798, he was indicted in Vermont for writing for publication a letter calculated "to stir up sedition and to bring the president and the government of the United States into contempt." He was convicted, confined for four months in the Vergennes jail, and fined $1,000, which was paid by his friends. Mr. Lyon is said to have revenged his wrongs by giving the decisive vote for Jefferson. While in prison he was re-elected to congress, and after the expiration of his term removed to Kentucky, where he established the first printing-office, transporting the type on horseback across the mountains. He served two years in the Kentucky legislature, and was elected to congress from that state, serving from 17 October, 1803, till 3 March, 1811. After his final retirement from congress the speaker of the house presented his petition to have the fine refunded to him that he had paid in Vermont, and on 4 July, 1840, an act was passed paying the sum to his heirs with interest. He was employed to build a fleet of gun-boats for service in the war of 1812, but was made bankrupt by his attempt. In 1820 he was appointed a United States factor among the Cherokee Indians in Arkansas, removed to that territory, and was elected its first delegate to congress, but did not live to take his seat. A sketch of his life was published by Pliny H. White, of Vermont, in 1858.--His son, CMttenden, congressman, born in Vermont in 1786; died in Caldwell county, Kentucky, 8 November, 1842, received a public-school education, and removed with his father to Kentucky in 1801. He was a member of both houses of the Kentucky legislature, and afterward elected a representative from Kentucky to congress as a Jackson Democrat, serving from 3 December, 1827. till 3 March, 1835. He was defeated as a candidate for presidential elector on the Van Buren ticket in 1836. Lyon county, Kentucky, was named in his honor. He inherited the impetuous Irish temper of the father, and was a man of gigantic stature, strength, and prowess, being fully six and a half feet in height, and weighing 350 pounds. He was more than a match for any antagonist, and bore the reputation of "champion" among the border people.
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