Early Life and Family
- Cruger was born in New York on July 18, 1710.
- His father was John Cruger and his mother was Maria Cuyler.
- His father was a prosperous merchant. He was also an alderman and served as the Mayor of New York City from 1739 to 1744.
- Cruger turned his attention to trade and became eminent as a shipping merchant.
- In 1768, He helped organize the New York Chamber of Commerce and was its first President.
- In 1754, Cruger was chosen alderman of the dock ward.
- In 1756, he was elected Mayor of New York City and served in that role until 1765.
- In 1759, he was elected to the New York General Assembly.
- In 1765, he represented New York at the Stamp Act Congress.
- In 1769, he was elected as Speaker of the New York General Assembly and held office until 1775.
New York Committee of Correspondence
- In 1761, Cruger was a leading member of the New York Committee of Correspondence and was associated in the drafting of memorials to the king, the lords, and the commons, “relative to the dangers which threaten the colonies to be taxed by laws to be passed in Great Britain.
Stamp Act Riots
- In the fall of 1765, riots occurred in New York City over the enforcement of the Stamp Act.
- A mob surrounded the home of Lieutenant-Governor Cadwallader Colden and threatened him if he carried out the use of stamps as required by the Stamp Act.
Delegate to the Stamp Act Congress
On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a stamp to be placed on all legal documents and many printed materials in the colonies.
In May, news of the new law reached the colonies. There was immediate opposition, including riots in Boston, Massachusetts, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Savannah, Georgia.
On June 8, 1765, the Massachusetts Assembly sent a circular letter to the legislatures of the other colonies, inviting them to send delegates to a congress in New York to discuss a unified response to the Stamp Act. The precedent for such a meeting had been set by the Albany Congress in 1754.
Nine of the 13 colonies, including New York, chose to send delegates to the meeting, which was held in New York City. Cruger was elected as a delegate from New York, along with Phillip Livingston, William Bayard, Sr., Robert “The Judge” Livingston, and Leonard Lispenard.
The Stamp Act Congress convened on October 7, 1765. On October 19, the Stamp Act Congress issued a Declaration of Rights and Grievances. Congress sent petitions to the King and both houses of Parliament and asked for the Stamp Act to be repealed.
Cruger was the Mayor of New York City during the Stamp Act Congress.
Cruger voted in favor of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, however, the delegates from New York were not authorized to sign their names to official documents of the Stamp Act Congress.
On November 1, 1765, the Stamp Act took effect, but there were no stamp masters available to distribute the stamps. They had resigned or refused to perform their job due to violence and intimidation against them.
On March 18, 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, primarily due to protest from British merchants who believed it would damage their prospects of doing business in the colonies. However, on that same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, which declared it had the “full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.”
- In 1775, he sent a letter to General Thomas Gage, urging, “that no military force might land or be stationed in this province.”
- He retired to Kinderhook, New York before the British occupied New York City.
- His nephew, John Harris Cruger, was a Loyalist and served in the British Army. He led the defense of Ninety-Six in 1781, against American forces led by Nathanael Greene.
- In 1783, Cruger returned to New York City.
- Cruger died on December 27, 1792, in New York City.
John Cruger, Jr. is important because was a delegate from New York to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. He was also the Mayor of New York City and was a member of New York’s Committee of Correspondence during the American Revolution.