De Witt Clinton (1769-1828) was a state legislator, U.S. Senator, and governor of New York. He ran for president in 1812, but lost to James Madison. As governor (1817-1821, 1825-1828), he oversaw the construction of the Erie Canal, promoted public school reform, and opposed Tammany Hall.
Thomas Jefferson and De Witt Clinton exchanged a number of letters and even gifts between 1802 and 1825. Jefferson admired the Erie Canal project greatly, writing that "N. York has anticipated by a full century the ordinary progress of improvement."