William Duer was a political leader and real estate entrepreneur in the years of the American Revolution and the new nation.
Born in England in 1747 (some sources state 1743), William Duer moved to the colony of New York in 1768. Both before and during the American Revolution, Duer associated himself with colonists determined to gain their independence from Great Britain. During the war, he served as a delegate from New York to the Second Continental Congress. After the Revolution ended with the Treaty of Paris (1783), Duer became Secretary of the Board of the Treasury. During the late 1780s, he became involved in land speculation in the newly created Northwest Territory. Duer allied himself with other investors in the Ohio Company of Associates, including Winthrop Sargent and Manasseh Cutler. In 1787, Duer and some of his business associates created the Scioto Company. That company later went into bankruptcy because of fraud and corruption.
Duer was a prominent patriot and contributed significantly to the early development of the United States. But he was less successful in his business ventures. The Scioto Company failed and his failed speculations in land and stocks sent him to prison for debt in 1792. William Duer died in prison on May 7, 1799.