Admitted to bar, 1770. Recorder New York City, 1773-1775. Member of New York Provincial Convention, 1775.
Delegate to Continental Congress, 1775-1779, 79-81, 84-85, member committee appointed to draft Declaration of Independence, member coms. on financial affairs, supplies, legal organization, foreign affairs, military problems. Delegate New York State Constitutional Convention, 1777. Established New York Court of Appeals, drafted commissions for its judges, prepared their instrns., member of commission to govern New York after British evacuation.
Chancellor of New York, 1777-1801. United States secretary for foreign affairs, 1781-1783. Administered oath of office to General Washington as 1st President United States, 1789.
President Society for Promotion Useful Arts, 1791-1813. United States minister to France, 1801, secured United States-French treaty resulting in Louisiana Purchase, 1803. Member 1st New York Canal Commission, 1811.
Founder, 1st president American Academy Fine Arts. Trustee New York Society Library. Friend, patron and partner of Robert Fulton, granted monopoly (with Fulton) on steam navigation by New York State.