Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com advises that these 19th Century
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VAN DAM, Rip, colonial governor, born in Albany, New York, about 1662 ; died in New York city after 1736. He became a prominent merchant in the West India trade, resisted Lord Bellomont's restrictions on commerce, and, in consequence of the seizure of some of his vessels for supposed infraction of the custom laws, engaged in politics, entered the assembly in 1699, and became a leader of the opposition party. With other merchants he signed a petition to the king protesting against Bellomont's acts. Lord Cornbury, who removed some of the councillors for promoting political disorder, appointed Van Dam to one of the vacancies. He continued in the council for nearly thirty years, and as its senior member and president assumed the administration and acted as governor from the death of Governor John Montgomery on 1 July, 1731, till, the arrival of his successor on 1 August, 1732. He was opposed to courts of chancery, and refused to take the oath as chancellor. When Governor William Cosby on his arrival exhibited an order for an equal division of the salary, emoluments, and perquisites, Van Dam refused to pay over any part of the salary that he had received unless Cosby divided the larger sum that he had obtained in England for pretended expenditures in the colony. They each brought suits, which were finally dropped without a settlement, after arousing intense partisan feeling between the aristocratic friends of the governor and the popular party, which supported Van Dam. Van Dam absented himself from the meetings of the council, and Governor Cosby, on his death-bed, secretly suspended him from office in order to prevent his succeeding again to the direction of the government. George Clarke, who was next in length of service, was sworn in, but Van Dam claimed the office, and the rival governors each called a meeting of the council. Van Dam was sustained by the chief justice, and his adherents were ready to support his claim with arms, when the arrival from England of despatches that were addressed to Clarke put an end to the controversy. He published "Heads of Articles of Complaint against Governor Cosby" (Boston, 1734).
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