James Hillhouse

James Hillhouse
United States Senator
from Connecticut
In office
December 6, 1796  June 10, 1810
Preceded by Oliver Ellsworth
Succeeded by Samuel W. Dana
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's At-Large district
In office
March 4, 1791  December 5, 1796
Preceded by Benjamin Huntington
Succeeded by James Davenport
Member of the Connecticut House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born October 20, 1754
Montville, Connecticut
Died December 29, 1832(1832-12-29) (aged 78)
New Haven, Connecticut
Resting place Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut
Political party Federalist
Alma mater Yale University

lawyer realtor


James Hillhouse (October 20, 1754 – December 29, 1832) was an American lawyer, real estate developer, and politician from New Haven, Connecticut. He represented Connecticut in both the U.S. House and Senate.


Hillhouse was born in Montville, Connecticut, the son of William Hillhouse and Sarah (Griswold) Hillhouse.[1] At the age of seven, he was adopted by his childless uncle and aunt, James Abraham and Mary Lucas Hillhouse. He attended the Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, Connecticut and graduated from Yale College in 1773. At Yale he was a member of the Linonian Society. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1775 and practiced law in New Haven.

Commission for James HIllhouse in the Governor's Foot Guards, June, 1779

During the Revolutionary War, Hillhouse served as captain of the Second Company of the Governor's Foot Guard. During the successful British invasion of New Haven on July 5, 1779, he commanded troops alongside Aaron Burr with Yale student volunteers.[2]


Hillhouse was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1780 to 1785. He was a member of the Connecticut council of Assistants from 1789 to 1790; and was elected as a United States Congressman from Connecticut at-large for the Second, Third, and Fourth Congresses and served from March 4, 1791, until his resignation in the fall of 1796.[2]

Elected as a United States Senator on May 12, 1796, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Oliver Ellsworth, Hillhouse was reelected in 1797, 1803, and 1809, and served from December 1796, until June 10, 1810, when he resigned. During the Sixth Congress he was President pro tempore of the Senate.[3]

In 1803, Hillhouse and several other New England politicians proposed secession of New England from the union due to growing influence of Jeffersonian democrats and the Louisiana Purchase which they felt would further diminish Northern influence. Hillhouse was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1813.[4] In 1814-10 he was a Connecticut delegate to the Hartford Convention, and treasurer of Yale College from 1782 to 1832.[5]


Hillhouse made major contributions to the beautification of New Haven.[5] He was active in the drive to plant the elm trees that gave New Haven the nickname of the Elm City. Hillhouse Avenue and James Hillhouse High School in New Haven are named for him. He died in New Haven on December 29, 1832 (age 78 years, 69 days) and is interred at the Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut.[6] He was a nephew of Matthew Griswold, and uncle of Thomas Hillhouse.


  1. "James Hillhouse". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  2. 1 2 "James Hillhouse". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  3. "James Hillhouse". Govtrack US Congress. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  4. American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  5. 1 2 "James Hillhouse" (PDF). Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  6. "James Hillhouse". Find A Grave. Retrieved 29 December 2012.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Benjamin Huntington
U.S. Representative from Connecticut
(at large)

March 4, 1791 December 5, 1796
Succeeded by
James Davenport
United States Senate
Preceded by
Oliver Ellsworth
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Connecticut
Served alongside: Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., Uriah Tracy, Chauncey Goodrich
Succeeded by
Samuel W. Dana
Political offices
Preceded by
John E. Howard
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
February 28, 1801 March 4, 1801
Succeeded by
Abraham Baldwin
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