Harmanus Bleecker was born in Albany, New York on October 9, 1779. He received a classical education and was fluent in Dutch, the language of his ancestors. Bleecker studied in the law offices of John V. Henry and James Emott, eminent counsellors of their day.
Following his admission to the bar in 1801, he commenced practice in Albany with attorney Theodore Sedgwick as his partner. He was elected as a Federalist to the Twelfth Congress, holding office from March 4, 1811 to March 3, 1813, after which he returned to Albany and resumed his legal practice. The practice became renowned far beyond the boundaries of New York and the eminent advocate attracted many law students, including David Dudley Field.
Harmanus Bleecker was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1814 and 1815, and again from 1822 to 1834. In 1823, he successfully represented two engineers who, under a contract with the Canal Commission, had gone on land needed for a turnpike and cut down the trees that were growing there (Bradshaw v Rogers and Magee).
On May 15, 1839, President Martin van Buren appointed Bleecker as Chargé d’Affaires to the Netherlands. His knowledge of the Dutch language caused King Willem I to exclaim “You speak better Dutch than we do in Holland.” Bleecker, however, soon became anxious to return to the United States and requested to be recalled. His appointment ended on June 28, 1842 and shortly afterward, he married a young woman he met while in the Netherlands. Upon his return to Albany with his new wife, Harmanus Bleecker retired from public life and business pursuits.
Harmanus Bleecker died at his residence on the corner of Chapel and Steuben streets, on July 19, 1849.
Joel Munsell. The Annals of Albany, vol. 1 (1869).