Duane, James(dwān, dəwān`), 1733–97, political figure in the American Revolution, b. New York City. Admitted to the bar in 1754, Duane soon gained renown and wealth as a lawyer. Although he took a cautious approach in the prerevolutionary agitation in New York City, his sincere interest in colonial rights won him a seat in the Continental Congress (1774), where he served until 1783. His support of Joseph Galloway's conciliatory plan and his habitual caution in Congress incurred numerous attacks on his patriotism. He served on various Revolutionary committees and helped draft the Articles of Confederation. Toward the close of the war Duane was a member of George Clinton's council and from 1784 to 1789 served as mayor of New York City. He was at the same time state senator and was a member of the convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution. From 1789 until his retirement (1794) he was U.S. district judge for New York. Duane, who invested heavily in land in Vermont and W New York, was long an ardent advocate of New York's claims to the New Hampshire Grants. His last years were spent in Duanesburg (in the Mohawk valley), which he was chiefly responsible for establishing in 1765.
See biography by E. P. Alexander (1938).