Justice Joseph Carter’s disappearance sparked mass media coverage and is a case receiving attention to this day. But before his time there was John Lansing, a man who was not only a mayor and legislator, but he was also a veteran of the American Revolution. In the evening, Lansing went out to mail some letters, and had not been seen again.
Lansing was born in Albany, New York, destined to live a life full of politics. Lansing had studied law before his service in the American Revolution. He had completed his studies and then worked as a military secretary. After his service, Lansing would work in the New York State Assembly, would become the mayor of Albany, and had even represented New York in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, eventually joining with Anti-Federalists. And by 1790, Lansing would become a Justice of the New York Supreme Court. Ultimately Lansing would serve as chancellor until 1814.
Lansing was staying at a hotel in New York in December, 1829 (By this time he was 75 years old, nearing 76). He would depart from the hotel in the evening to mail letters by the docks, hoping to reach the night boat. But Lansing had never been seen again, and despite a mass search, no sign or clue regarding his whereabouts has been discovered. However, one significant piece of evidence has come to light that would shed details on his fate. Thurlow Weed’s memoirs explain that Lansing was murdered by other reigning political figures due to perturbing their plans. Weed claims to have witnessed sources proving this to be true.
Weed, however, did not publish these findings, despite knowing that those involved with the murder have passed. His reasoning was at first because the murderers were alive, and of course would not have brought up who committed the crimes while they were alive. When they all died, Weed wrote that he did not want to hurt the reputations of the families the figures were related to.
One theory is that Lansing was not murdered and in fact drowned while trying to deliver his letters. The reason for this is due to his age and circumstances in which he disappeared. He did, after all, disappear while travelling to a harbor. However, if this were the case, no body confirmed to be his has washed up.
Another is that Lansing was murdered by people with no relation to the political sphere. It is entirely possible a criminal (or group) robbed, killed, and dumped his body somewhere. Lansing would have made for an easy target given his age.
And finally, Weed’s claims that he was murdered by a specific group of people, but it is entirely unknown as to whom those people are. Weed never gave names (not even for the person who gave him the sources) and no trace of these supposed sources has been recovered or seen. Some suspect Weed made it up, and without the sources he claimed to have seen, that is not an unreasonable belief. His account is, however, is the most recent and most significant step made in the case.