James A. Bayard Jr.

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James A. Bayard Jr.
James A. Bayard, Jr. - Brady-Handy.jpg
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
March 4, 1851 – January 29, 1864
Preceded byJohn Wales
Succeeded byGeorge R. Riddle
In office
April 5, 1867 – March 4, 1869
Preceded byGeorge R. Riddle
Succeeded byThomas F. Bayard Sr.
Personal details
James Asheton Bayard Jr.

(1799-11-15)November 15, 1799
Wilmington, Delaware
DiedJune 13, 1880(1880-06-13) (aged 80)
Wilmington, Delaware
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceWilmington, Delaware

James Asheton Bayard Jr. (November 15, 1799 – June 13, 1880) was an American lawyer and politician from Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party and served as U.S. Senator from Delaware.

Early life and family[edit]

Bayard was born in Wilmington, Delaware, son of James A. Bayard and Nancy Bassett Bayard. His father was a member of the Federalist Party and served as U.S. Representative and Senator from Delaware. His mother was the daughter of Richard Bassett, signatory to the United States Constitution and Senator from Delaware. His older brother, Richard H. Bayard, was also a U.S. Senator from Delaware.

Professional and political career[edit]

Bayard studied the law, and began his legal practice in the city of Wilmington. From 1836 until 1843 he served as United States Attorney for Delaware. In 1851 he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was re-elected in 1857 and 1863, and served from March 4, 1851, to January 29, 1864, when he resigned. As U.S. Senator he was chairman of the Committee on Engrossed Bills in the 32nd Congress, a member of the Committee on Public Buildings in the 33rd Congress and 34th Congress, a member of the Committee on Judiciary in the 35th Congress and 36th Congress, and a member of the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds in the 35th Congress.

Bayard served on the boards of various railroads, including the Wilmington and Susquehanna Railroad,[1] the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad (for which service he is named on the 1839 Newkirk Viaduct Monument), and the Pennsylvania Railroad.[2]

In 1846, Bayard represented slave owners in a civil suit against Thomas Garrett, a Wilmington iron merchant who was also a "stationmaster" on the Underground Railroad. The plaintiffs demanded damages from Garrett for helping around 10 slaves escape to freedom. The suit was tried in the U.S. District Court in New Castle, Delaware, before Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B. Taney (sitting as a circuit judge). (Taney later issued the notorious Dred Scott decision as Chief Justice.) Bayard won a judgement that all but bankrupted Garrett, who declared on the spot that he would redouble his anti-slavery efforts: "Friend, I haven't a dollar in the world, but if thee knows a fugitive who needs a breakfast, send him to me."[3]

Bayard was a conservative and adhered to his interpretation of tradition throughout the American Civil War. He believed the South should be allowed to secede peacefully, and privately hoped for the secession of Delaware and a state convention to address the issue.[4] Citing property rights of owners, he opposed abolitionist measures. He also stated both his opposition to the Civil War and his opposition to any presidential or congressional acts used to suppress the independence of the Southern states.

During the Civil War, the Senate required all senators to swear an oath of loyalty to the Union. Bayard refused, stating that such an oath would be unconstitutional, and after taking the oath and giving a long speech disputing its legality, resigned from the Senate.

The death of his successor, George R. Riddle, on March 29, 1867, left the Senate seat vacant. Bayard interrupted his practice of law in Wilmington and accepted appointment to the vacant seat. He was subsequently elected to fill it, and served again from April 5, 1867, to March 4, 1869. During the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, Bayard voted "not guilty." After declining to run again for re-election, he returned to private practice for several years until poor health incapacitated him.

In 1872, he was among the nine politicians whose names were submitted by the House of Representatives to the Senate for investigation in the Credit Mobilier scandal. He wrote a letter disavowing any knowledge of the affair, and his name was generally dropped from the investigation.[5]

Death and legacy[edit]

Bayard died at Wilmington and is buried there in the Old Swedes Episcopal Church Cemetery. He was the father of U.S. Senator Thomas F. Bayard and grandfather of U.S. Senator Thomas F. Bayard Jr.


Senators were elected by the state legislature at this time - in this case the Delaware General Assembly - to a six-year term beginning March 4. Bayard was elected to a term beginning March 4, 1863, but resigned in 1864. George R. Riddle was appointed to serve the rest of the term, but died in 1867. Bayard was then appointed to serve the remainder of the term.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
United States Attorney Executive Wilmington, Delaware 1836 1843
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington March 4, 1851 March 3, 1857
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington March 4, 1857 March 3, 1863
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington March 4, 1863 January 29, 1864
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington April 5, 1867 March 3, 1869
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1851–1853 32nd U.S. Senate Democratic Millard Fillmore class 1
1853–1855 33rd U.S. Senate Democratic Franklin Pierce class 1
1855–1857 34th U.S. Senate Democratic Franklin Pierce class 1
1857–1859 35th U.S. Senate Democratic James Buchanan class 1
1859–1861 36th U.S. Senate Democratic James Buchanan class 1
1861–1863 37th U.S. Senate Republican Abraham Lincoln class 1
1863–1865 38th U.S. Senate Republican Abraham Lincoln class 1 [6]
1867–1869 40th U.S. Senate Republican Andrew Johnson class 1 [7]



  1. ^ Railway Locomotives and Cars, Volume 6
  2. ^ Churella 2013, p. 88
  3. ^ "Thomas Garrett (b. August 21, 1789 - d. January 24, 1871)". Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series). Maryland State Archives. July 19, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  4. ^ Brion McClanahan, "A Lonely Opposition: James A. Bayard and the American Civil War." Ph. D. Dissertation, University of South Carolina, 2006
  5. ^ "The Expulsion Case of James W. Patterson of New Hampshire (1873) (Crédit Mobilier Scandal)". U.S. Senate Historical Office. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  6. ^ Resigned
  7. ^ Elected to fill vacancy caused by George R. Riddle's death


External links[edit]

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
John Wales
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Delaware
March 4, 1851 – January 29, 1864
Served alongside: Presley Spruance, John M. Clayton, Joseph P. Comegys, Martin W. Bates, Willard Saulsbury Sr.
Succeeded by
George R. Riddle
Preceded by
George R. Riddle
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Delaware
April 5, 1867 – March 3, 1869
Served alongside: Willard Saulsbury Sr.
Succeeded by
Thomas F. Bayard