Solomon Van Rensselaer was born in East Greenbush, New York, where he completed preparatory studies. He entered the United States Army, was promoted to captain of a volunteer company, and then to major on January 8 1799, and mustered out in June 1800. He was an adjutant general of the state militia in 1801, 1810, and 1813; and served in the War of 1812 as lieutenant colonel of the New York Volunteers.
He was elected as a Federalist to the Sixteenth and Seventeenth United States Congresses, and served from March 4, 1819 to January 14, 1822, when he resigned. He was postmaster of Albany, New York from 1822 to 1839, and from 1841 to 1843 and a delegate from New York at the opening of the Erie Canal on November 4 1825.
He died near Albany, aged 77. He was interred in the North Dutch Church Cemetery, in Albany, and reinterred in Albany Rural Cemetery.