Mahlon Dickerson was born in Hanover, New Jersey on April 17, 1770. His early education was attained through private tutors, and later he attended Princeton University, where he graduated in 1789. He went on to study law, and was admitted to the bar in 1793. He then established his legal career, first in Pennsylvania and later in New Jersey. He also served in the military during the Whiskey Rebellion, as a private with the 2nd Regiment Cavalry of the New Jersey Militia. Dickerson first entered politics in Pennsylvania, serving as the commissioner of bankruptcy, a position he held in 1802. From 1805 to 1808 he served as the adjutant general of Pennsylvania; and from 1808 to 1810 he served as the recorder of the city. After moving back to New Jersey, Dickerson resumed his political career. He was a member of the New Jersey General Assembly from 1811 to 1813; was a law reporter for the New Jersey State Supreme Court from 1813 to 1814; and served as a New Jersey State Supreme Court justice from 1813 to 1815. Dickerson next won election to the governorship in 1815, and was reelected to a second term in 1816. During his tenure, the state became the first in the nation to approve a protective tariff; and initial steps were taken that would later launch the construction of the Delaware and Raritan canal. Dickerson resigned from the governor’s office on February 1, 1817, upon his election to the U.S. Senate, a position he held until 1833. He served as a member and vice president of the New Jersey State Council in 1833; and was secretary of the navy from 1834 to 1838. He also served on the U.S. District court bench in 1840; and was a delegate to the 1844 State Constitutional Convention. Governor Mahlon Dickerson passed away on October 5, 1853, and was buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Succasunna, New Jersey.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.