Obadiah German

Obadiah German
Obadiah German
United States Senator
from New York
In office
March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1815
Preceded by Samuel L. Mitchill
Succeeded by Nathan Sanford
Personal details
Born April 22, 1776(1776-04-22)
Amenia, New York
Died September 24, 1842(1842-09-24) (aged 66)
Norwich, Chenango County, New York
Nationality American
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Ann German (circa 1791-1861)

Obadiah German (April 22, 1766 – September 24, 1842) was an American lawyer and politician.


He was admitted to the bar in 1792, and commenced practice in Norwich.

He was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1798-99, from 1804 to 1805, from 1807 to 1809.

In 1809, he was elected a U.S. Senator from New York, and served from March 4, 1809, to March 4, 1815. German was known as a critic of the lack of military preparations made in advance of the War of 1812, and voted against the declaration of war. In 1812, German was one of the founding trustees of Hamilton College. He was First Judge of the Chenango County Court from 1814 to 1819. He was also a State militia officer, eventually becoming a major general.

Supporting DeWitt Clinton's canal project, German also took part in the construction of the Erie Canal after being appointed State Commissioner of Public Works in 1817. German returned to the Assembly in 1819 and, as a member of the Clintonian faction of the Democratic-Republican Party, was chosen Speaker. Afterwards he resumed the practice of law. German became a Whig when that party was organized.

He was buried at the Riverside Cemetery in North Norwich, New York.

Obadiah German's widow, Mary Ann, claimed to have been defrauded of an estate worth more than $70,000 by a brother of Obadiah German. She took up residence in Syracuse, and became a public charge, her efforts at earning at living through painting and "fancy work" having failed. Her claim to be the widow of Sen. German was not believed in Syracuse until it was confirmed after her death "in a state of great destitution," according to the Syracuse Journal.[1]

The town of German, New York is named after him.


  1. ^ "DEATH OF THE WIDOW OF A FORMER U.S. SENATOR. -- A woman named Mrs. Mary Ann German died in a state of great destitution in our city yesterday morning, and is to be buried at the public expense this afternoon. Mrs. G. has lived here for several years, and is well known to many of our citizens. She endeavored, for a while after she came here, to get a living by making and selling 'Grecian paintings,' and other fancy work, but was unable to do so, and at last became a city charge. Mrs. German related a strange story of her life. She represented that she was the widow of a former United States Senator from this State, and that at his death an estate valued at over $70,000 was taken from her on a fraudulent claim preferred by his brother. This story, and other statements made by her, were not credited, because unsupported by other evidence than her word, and the manner in which they were told and embellished. She was evidently a woman of education, and possessed traces of personal beauty in her younger days. She was the recipient of many favors from those who became acquainted with her. Her age was nearly or quite 70 years. We learn to-day that it is a fact that the deceased was the widow of Obadiah German, who resided at Norwich, Chenango County, and represented New-York in the United States Senate from 1809 to 1815. --Syracuse Journal." New-York Daily Tribune, January 11, 1861, p. 3.


United States Senate
Preceded by
Samuel L. Mitchill
United States Senator (Class 1) from New York
1809 - 1815
Served alongside: John Smith, Rufus King
Succeeded by
Nathan Sanford
Political offices
Preceded by
David Woods
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
John C. Spencer

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