Thomas F. Bayard

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Thomas Francis Bayard (October 29, 1828 – September 28, 1898) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party, who served three terms as U.S. Senator from Delaware, and as U.S. Secretary of State, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

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Early life and family

Bayard was born in Wilmington, Delaware, son of U.S. Senator James A. Bayard, Jr. and Anne Francis, and grandson of U.S. Senator James A. Bayard, Sr. The Bayards were a wealthy and aristocratic family in Delaware at that time, claiming descent and inheriting some of the wealth of Richard Bassett and Augustine Herrman, the Lord of Bohemia Manor. Thomas Bayard was the fourth generation of the family to serve in the U.S. Senate. He was considered a prominent Bourbon Democrat.

Bayard studied law and was admitted to the Bar in 1851 and worked as his father’s assistant. He was appointed United States District Attorney for Delaware from 1853 until 1854 and then practiced law in Philadelphia with his friend, William Shippen, from 1854 until 1858, before returning permanently to his father’s practice in Wilmington. In 1856 Bayard married Louise Lee. She died in 1886, and in 1889 he married Mary W. Clymer.

Civil War

As determined Peace Democrats, Thomas Bayard and his father were very much opposed to the Lincoln policy of coercion to prevent the secession of the Southern states, although they seemed equally in favor of remaining in the Union. While many of their actions raised questions from their opponents about their loyalty towards the Union, no evidence of treason has ever been established. Thomas Bayard was himself the First Lieutenant of a group known as the Delaware Guard, widely considered to be one of the military arms of pro-Southerners in Delaware. When the Delaware Guard was finally disarmed, Bayard was arrested for resisting the seizure, but was later paroled. However others may have felt, on January 2, 1861, Bayard is widely credited for convincing the Delaware General Assembly to drop, once and for all, any thought of secession.

United States Senator

Bayard was elected to his father’s seat in the United States Senate in 1868, and would serve there from March 4, 1869 until March 6, 1885. At various times he served as President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, Chairman of the Finance Committee, a member of the Judiciary Committee, Committee on Engrossed Bills, Committee on Private Land Claims, Library Committee and the Committee on the revision of laws. During his time as a senator, he was also a member of the Electoral Commission that decided the 1876 Presidential election in favor of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. As a Democrat, Bayard voted with the seven-member minority on all counts. Bayard was a candidate for President of the United States in 1876, ran second to Winfield Scott Hancock for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1880, and second to Grover Cleveland in 1884.

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