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Van Rensselaer, Stephen (01 November 1764–26 January 1839), patroon, congressman, and founder of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was born in New York City, the son of Stephen Van Rensselaer and Catherine Livingston. Born into one of New York’s wealthiest families, he was the eighth and last patroon of a vast estate in Rensselaer and Albany counties. With rights that were a legacy of the Dutch patroon system, he was to receive rents and tithes perpetually from his tenants. He received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1782. The next year he married Margaret Schuyler, daughter of General ...