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George Washington commented in his diary that the home of Governor John Langdon, “may be esteemed the first” among the homes in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Constructed in 1784, the house projected John Langdon’s status in the community. A ship’s captain, international merchant, militia Colonel, and one of the U.S.’s Founding Fathers, Langdon served in the Continental Congress for one year and later supervised the construction of warships for America’s Revolutionary Navy. He was a U.S. Senator, Governor of New Hampshire, and State legislator. Langdon lived in the home from 1785 until he died in 1819.


  • John Langdon House
  • John Langdon
  • Langdon Mansion
     Langdon’s family was one Portsmouth’s early settlers. Captaining a cargo ship involved in West Indies trade before he was 22 years old, Langdon owned his first merchant ship by age 26. Eventually Langdon owned a fleet that was involved in the triangle trade between the Caribbean, colonial North America, and London.1 John and his older brother Woodbury quickly became Portsmouth’s wealthiest citizens.2 With British efforts to raise revenue by regulating trade and imposing taxes, both brothers entered the political field. John was quick to take up revolutionary ideals while his brother espoused a more conservative position.3 John and Woodbury were both elected to serve in the New Hampshire Legislature in 1774.4 John further involved himself in the move toward revolution by serving on non-Importation Committees, and the New Hampshire Committee of Correspondence.5

     With the outbreak of the Revolution, Langdon represented New Hampshire at the First Continental Congress. One of his roles there was on the committee that established the U.S. Navy. Congress appointed him as the Marine Agent for New Hampshire, a role that saw him establish a shipyard for the construction of America’s first warships. Weapons distribution was one of his responsibilities.6 In 1777, Langford began serving in the New Hampshire Legislature. He also was heavily involved in the organizing New Hampshire’s Militia. Langdon led a unit that was involved in the surrender of British General John Burgoyne.7

     Langdon’s political career continued after the Revolution ended, serving in the Continental Congress in 1787, and was also a representative to the Constitutional Convention.8 John Langdon is one of the signers of the Constitution of The United States.9 He served in the U.S. Senate from 1789 to 1801. He was a member of the New Hampshire Legislature from 1801 to 1805. From 1805 to 1811, excepting 1809, Langdon was the Governor of New Hampshire. Langdon was nominated to be Vice President of the United States, but declined to run.10

     Construction of John Langdon’s home began in 1783. Portsmouth carpenters, Daniel Hart and Michael Whidden III, supervised the construction. The house features rococo ornamentation, and a room arrangement that is centered around a hallway. The house was completed in 1785 and Langdon lived there until he died in 1819.11 The house has been restored by John Langdon’s descendants and displays the history of Portsmouth. Period furnishings are placed to communicate stylistic changes that have occurred throughout the houses history. Frequently, rotating exhibits covering topic like New England’s architectural periods are displayed.12
1. Wright, Robert K., Jr. and MacGregor, Morris J., Jr., “John Langdon, New Hampshire”, U.S. Army Center of Military History, Library of Congress, August 11, 2000, accessed April 4, 2015, http://www.history.army.mil/books/revwar/ss/langdon.htm 2. “John Langdon, New Hampshire”, The Founding Fathers, Constitution Day, 2015, accessed April 4, 2015, http://www.constitutionday.com/langdon-john-nh.html 3. Wright, Robert K., Jr. and MacGregor, Morris J., Jr., “John Langdon, New Hampshire” 4. Wright, Robert K., Jr. and MacGregor, Morris J., Jr., “John Langdon, New Hampshire” 5. “John Langdon, New Hampshire”, The Founding Fathers, Constitution Day 6. Wright, Robert K., Jr. and MacGregor, Morris J., Jr., “John Langdon, New Hampshire” 7. Wright, Robert K., Jr. and MacGregor, Morris J., Jr., “John Langdon, New Hampshire” 8. “John Langdon, New Hampshire”, The Founding Fathers, Constitution Day 9. Governor John Langdon House”, Historic New England.com, 2015, accessed April 4, 2015, http://www.historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/gov.-john-langdon-house 10. “John Langdon, New Hampshire”, The Founding Fathers, Constitution Day 11. Jobe, Brock W. and Moulton, Marianne, SPNEA “Gov. John Langdon House”, Sea Coast N.H.com, 1999, accessed April 4, 2015, http://www.seacoastnh.com/houses/langdon/ 12. Governor John Langdon House”, Historic New England.com, 2015, accessed April 4, 2015, http://www.historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/gov.-john-langdon-house
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