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Matthew Lyon (July 14, 1749 - August 1, 1822), (father of Chittenden Lyon and great-grandfather of William Peters Hepburn ), was a printer, farmer, soldier, and politician, serving as a United States Representative from Vermont and from Kentucky.
Lyon was born near Dublin, County Wicklow, Ireland, and attended school in Dublin. He began to learn the trade of printer in 1763 and immigrated to what would become the United States in 1765. Lyon was landed as a redemptioner and worked on a farm in Woodbury, Connecticut, where he continued his education.
Lyon moved to Wallingford, Vermont (then known as the New Hampshire Grants), in 1774 and organized a company of militia. He served as adjutant in Colonel Seth Warner's regiment in Canada in 1775, and was then commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the regiment known as the Green Mountain Boys in July 1776. He moved to Arlington, Vermont, in 1777.
Lyon resigned from the Army in 1778, and became a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from 1779-1783. He founded the town of Fair Haven, Vermont, in 1783, and returned to the state House of Representatives for ten years during the period 1783-1796. He built and operated various kinds of mills, including one for the manufacture of paper, established a printing office in 1793 and published the Farmers' Library , afterward the Fair Haven Gazette . Lyon was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the Second and Third Congresses, and unsuccessfully contested the election of Israel Smith to the Fourth Congress. He was elected as a Republican to the Fifth and Sixth Congresses (March 4, 1797-March 3, 1801); he was not a candidate for renomination in 1800. Lyon had the distinction of being the first member to have an ethics violation charge filed against him when he was accused of "gross indecency" for spitting on Roger Griswold of Connecticut after an exchange of insults in 1798; although the Ethics Committee recommended censure, the House as a whole rejected the motion to censure him.
Lyon moved to Kentucky in 1801 and settled in Caldwell County (now Lyon County). He became a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1802 and was elected to the Eighth and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1803-March 3, 1811). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1810 to the Twelfth Congress.
Lyon was appointed United States factor to the Cherokee Nation in Arkansas Territory in 1820; and again attempted to serve in Washington, DC when he unsuccessfully contested the election of James W. Bates as a Delegate from Arkansas Territory to the Seventeenth Congress. Lyon died in Spadra Bluff, Arkansas , August 1, 1822; interment in Spadra Bluff Cemetery; reinterment in Eddyville Cemetery, Eddyville, Caldwell (now Lyon) County, Ky., in 1833.
- DAB; Austin, Aleine. Matthew Lyon: ?New Man? of the Democratic Revolution, 1749-1822. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1981; Montagno, George L. ?Matthew Lyon, Radical Jeffersonian, 1796-1801: A Case Study in Partisan Politics.? Ph.D. dissertation, University of California at Berkeley, 1954.
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