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John C. Ten Eyck

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John C. Ten Eyck
Brady-Handy Photograph Collection, Library of Congress
United States Senator
from New Jersey
In office
March 4, 1859 – March 3, 1865
Preceded byWilliam Wright
Succeeded byJohn P. Stockton
President of the Commission to Revise the Constitution of New Jersey
In office
July 8, 1873 – November 18, 1873
Preceded byAbraham O. Zabriskie
Succeeded byNone (Commission's term of service complete)
Prosecutor of the Pleas for Burlington County, New Jersey
In office
Preceded byElias B. Cannon
Succeeded byGarrit S. Cannon
Personal details
Born(1814-03-12)March 12, 1814
Freehold Township, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedAugust 24, 1879(1879-08-24) (aged 65)
Mount Holly Township, New Jersey, U.S.
Resting placeSt. Andrew's Cemetery, Mount Holly, New Jersey
Political partyWhig (before 1855)
Republican (after 1855)
SpouseJulia Gadsby (m. 1845-1879, his death)
Military service
AllegianceUnited States (Union)
New Jersey
Branch/serviceNew Jersey Militia
Years of service1863
UnitTen Eyck Guards
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

John Conover Ten Eyck (March 12, 1814 – August 24, 1879) was a United States Senator from New Jersey from 1859 to 1865, during the American Civil War. He was a member of the Republican Party.

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Early life

John Ten Eyck was born in Freehold Township, New Jersey, and was the son of William Ten Eyck (1783-1837) and Leah (Conover) Ten Eyck (1787-1832).[1] The Dutch American Ten Eyck family (pronounced "Ten Ike")[2] was long prominent in law, business and politics, particularly in New York and New Jersey.[3] John C. Ten Eyck completed preparatory studies under private tutors, studied law with Joseph Fitz Randolph, and was admitted to the bar in 1835.[4]

Ten Eyck established a successful law practice in Burlington, New Jersey, first in partnership with Garret D. Wall, and later as the sole member of his own firm.[5] Originally a Whig, he was prosecuting attorney of Burlington County from 1839 to 1849, and was a delegate to the New Jersey constitutional convention of 1844.[5] Ten Eyck joined the Republican Party at its founding in the 1850s, and was a supporter of John C. Frémont in the 1856 presidential election.[6]

U.S. Senator

Ten Eyck served in the U.S. Senate from March 4, 1859 to March 3, 1865, after winning election in a joint session of the New Jersey State Legislature which met in January 1859.[7] The anti-slavery Opposition Party, which consisted of members of the new Republican Party, traditional Whigs, members of the Free Soil Party, and members of the American Party vied with Democrats for control of the legislature and selection of a U.S. senator.[7] With none of the Opposition groups strong enough to elect a candidate on their own, but determined to prevent the re-election of William Wright or the election of another Democrat, the Opposition eventually decided to agree on a compromise candidate who had no strong ties to any faction.[8] They selected Ten Eyck, who was not an active candidate, but was known to have been a Whig, and more recently a Republican, yet not politically prominent in recent years or strongly committed to any Opposition faction.[8] Members of the American Party were especially unhappy at being unable to elect John F. Randolph or another American candidate, but accepted Ten Eyck to ensure that a Democrat would not win the seat.[7]

During his Senate career, which spanned the American Civil War, Ten Eyck served on the Judiciary and Commerce committees. He entered the Senate as a presumed moderate, and opposed allowing slavery to expand, but believed the Constitution permitted it where it existed.[9] He also supported enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 even though he was personally opposed to it, on the grounds that he believed it was constitutional.[9] Over time, his anti-slavery views became more pronounced.[9] When the New Jersey State Legislature passed early 1861 resolutions in support of the Crittenden Compromise, Ten Eyck complied with the legislature's instructions to transmit them to the Senate, but made clear that he believed they were unconstitutional.[9] Ten Eyck voted to end slavery in Washington, D.C., and voted in favor of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States.[9]

When soldiers of the Confederate States Army invaded Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863, Ten Eyck advocated immediate creation of a Burlington County militia unit to take part in Pennsylvania's defense.[10] He enlisted as a private in order to set an example for those in attendance, and they called the unit they created the "Ten Eyck Guards" in his honor.[11] He marched to Pennsylvania with the company, and once the Confederates had retreated, he completed his term of service upon the return of the Ten Eyck Guards to Burlington County.[11]

Post-Senate career

After leaving the Senate, Ten Eyck resumed practicing law.[11] He was a delegate to the 1866 National Union Convention, which attempted unsuccessfully to promote post-Civil War reconciliation, including unity behind the Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson.[12] In 1873, he was appointed to the commission that revised the Constitution of New Jersey, and served as its president following the death his predecessor.[13] The commission submitted its proposed changes to the state legislature, who presented to them voters for ratification.[14] The changes were approved in an 1875 election, and went into effect soon afterwards.[14]

Death and burial

Ten Eyck died at his home in Mount Holly Township, New Jersey on August 24, 1879.[15] and was interred in Mount Holly's St. Andrew's Cemetery.[16]


On June 10, 1845, Ten Eyck married Julia Gadsby (1818-1890), the daughter of John Gadsby and Providence (Norris) Gadsby.[5] They were the parents of six children—Augusta (1846-1876), Julia (1847-1941), Jane (1849-1918), May (1850-1951), Virginia, and John (1855-1935).[17][18]


  1. ^ Miller, Richard F. (2015). States at War: A Reference Guide for Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey in the Civil War. Vol. 4. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England. p. 573. ISBN 978-1-61168-621-0.
  2. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (March 8, 1977). "Maude E. Ten Eyck, 74, Ex‐Assemblyman". The New York Times. New York, NY. p. 32.
  3. ^ Bielinski, Stefan (March 30, 2002). "Ten Eyck". The People of Colonial Albany. Albany, NY: New York State Museum.
  4. ^ Williams, C. S. (1909). Descendants of John Cox. New York, NY: Charles Selwyn Williams. p. 56.
  5. ^ a b c Descendants of John Cox, p. 56.
  6. ^ Gillette, William (1995). Jersey Blue: Civil War Politics in New Jersey, 1854-1865. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-8135-2120-6.
  7. ^ a b c Jersey Blue, pp. 57–58.
  8. ^ a b Jersey Blue, p. 57.
  9. ^ a b c d e States at War, p. 573.
  10. ^ Hillhouse, Margaret Prouty (1924). Historical and Genealogical Collections Relating to the Descendants of Rev. James Hillhouse. New York, NY: T. A. Wright. pp. 316–317.
  11. ^ a b c Historical and Genealogical Collections Relating to the Descendants of Rev. James Hillhouse, pp. 316–317.
  12. ^ White, James T. (1895). The National Cyclopedia of American Biography. Vol. 2. New York, NY: J. T. White. p. 95.
  13. ^ Williams, Robert Forrest (2012). The New Jersey State Constitution. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-19-977827-0.
  14. ^ a b The New Jersey State Constitution, p. 19.
  15. ^ "Death Notice, The Hon. John C. Ten Eyck" (PDF). The New York Times. New York, NY. August 26, 1879.
  16. ^ Descendants of John Cox, p. 57.
  17. ^ Historical and Genealogical Collections Relating to the Descendants of Rev. James Hillhouse, p. 317.
  18. ^ "John C. Ten Eyck, Golf Pioneer, Dies in Manhattan Hotel". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. November 25, 1935. p. 15 – via


U.S. Senate
Preceded by  U.S. senator (Class 2) from New Jersey
Served alongside: John R. Thomson, Richard S. Field,
James W. Wall, William Wright
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Elias B. Cannon
Prosecutor of the Pleas for Burlington County, New Jersey
Succeeded by
Garrit S. Cannon
This page was last edited on 4 September 2022, at 17:03
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