Conclusion: The Web of Connections

Because of Clarkson University, the Clarkson name lives on in Potsdam. The university was founded to honor Thomas’ vision, but the vision of the women who created and nurtured the college must also be honored. Elizabeth, Frederica and Annie Clarkson were the drivers behind the establishment of Clarkson College. They served as trustees until their deaths. They, as well as Lavinia and Emilie, were continuous benefactors of the College and town throughout their lifetimes. Through these women, the entire Levinus Clarkson estate was eventually bestowed upon the college.

The fact that Elizabeth, Lavinia and Annie had all moved to Manhattan near the end of their lives indicates the close ties between the Potsdam family and the larger family network in Manhattan. The Manhattan Clarksons were involved in every stage of the development of Manhattan, Potsdam and New York state, as well as in the birth of the United States. They were important merchants, financiers and government officials, involved in establishing civic institutions such as King’s College (later Columbia University), New York Hospital and Trinity Church. They consorted with some of the great names recorded in history books (e.g., Bayard, Livingston and Vanderbilt) and on the landscape of New York state (e.g., De Peyster, Jay, Schuyler and Van Cortland). More details on these historical Clarksons can be found in the appendices.