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Richard H. Bayard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Richard H. Bayard
Richard H Bayard US.jpg
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
January 12, 1841 – March 3, 1845
Preceded byvacancy [1]
Succeeded byJohn M. Clayton
Chief Justice of Delaware
In office
September 19, 1839 – March 12, 1841
Preceded byJohn M. Clayton
Succeeded byJames Booth, Jr.
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
June 17, 1836 – September 19, 1839
Preceded byArnold Naudain
Succeeded byvacancy [2]
Personal details
Richard Henry Bayard

(1796-09-26)September 26, 1796
Wilmington, Delaware
DiedMarch 4, 1868(1868-03-04) (aged 71)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Political partyWhig
ResidenceWilmington, Delaware
Alma materPrinceton College

Richard Henry Bayard (September 26, 1796 – March 4, 1868) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, Delaware. He was a member of the Whig Party, who served as the first Mayor of Wilmington, Chief Justice of the Delaware Superior Court, and as U.S. Senator from Delaware.

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On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. That day, nearly a quarter million people gathered on the national mall to demand an end to the discrimination, segregation, violence, and economic exclusion black people still faced across the United States. None of it would have been possible without the march’s chief organizer – a man named Bayard Rustin. Rustin grew up in a Quaker household, and began peacefully protesting racial segregation in high school. He remained committed to pacifism throughout his life, and was jailed in 1944 as a conscientious objector to World War II. During his two-year imprisonment, he protested the segregated facilities from within. Wherever Rustin went, he organized and advocated, and was constantly attuned to the methods, groups, and people who could help further messages of equality. He joined the Communist Party when black American’s civil rights were one of its priorities, but soon became disillusioned by the party’s authoritarian leanings and left. In 1948, he traveled to India to learn the peaceful resistance strategies of the recently assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. He returned to the United States armed with strategies for peaceful protest, including civil disobedience. He began to work with Martin Luther King Jr in 1955, and shared these ideas with him. As King’s prominence increased, Rustin became his main advisor, as well as a key strategist in the broader civil rights movement. He brought his organizing expertise to the 1956 bus boycotts in Montgomery, Alabama —in fact, he had organized and participated in a transportation protest that helped inspire the boycotts almost a decade before. His largest-scale organizing project came in 1963, when he led the planning for the national march on Washington. The possibility of riots that could injure marchers and undermine their message of peaceful protest was a huge concern. Rustin not only worked with the DC police and hospitals to prepare, but organized and trained a volunteer force of 2,000 security marshals. In spite of his deft management, some of the other organizers did not want Rustin to march in front with other leaders from the south, because of his homosexuality. Despite these slights, Rustin maintained his focus, and on the day of the march he delivered the marchers' demands in a speech directed at President John F. Kennedy. The march itself proceeded smoothly, without any violence. It has been credited with helping pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices. In spite of his decades of service, Rustin’s positions on certain political issues were unpopular among his peers. Some thought he wasn’t critical enough of the Vietnam War, or that he was too eager to collaborate with the political establishment including the president and congress. Others were uncomfortable with his former communist affiliation. But ultimately, both his belief in collaboration with the government and his membership to the communist party had been driven by his desire to maximize tangible gains in liberties for black Americans, and to do so as quickly as possible. Rustin was passed over for several influential roles in the 1960s and 70s, but he never stopped his activism. In the 1980s, he publicly came out as gay, and was instrumental in drawing attention to the AIDS crisis until his death in 1987. In 2013, fifty years after the March On Washington, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, praising Rustin’s “march towards true equality, no matter who we are or who we love.”


Early life and family

Bayard was born in Wilmington, Delaware, son of James A. Bayard, Sr., and Nancy Bassett Bayard. His father was a member of the Federalist Party, who served as U.S. Representative from Delaware and U.S. Senator from Delaware. His mother was the daughter of another U.S. Senator from Delaware, Richard Bassett. His younger brother, James A. Bayard, Jr., was also a U.S. Senator from Delaware.

Professional and political career

Bayard graduated from Princeton College in 1814, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1818. His practice was in Wilmington, where he became the first mayor of the newly incorporated city in 1832.

In 1836, Bayard was elected as an Anti-Jacksonian to the United States Senate, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of U.S. Senator Arnold Naudain. He served from June 17, 1836 to September 19, 1839, when he resigned to become Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. He served in that capacity for two years, from 1839 to 1841, when he resigned, being once again elected to the United States Senate, this time as a Whig. The position had been vacant since his own resignation in 1839. This time, he served from January 12, 1841 until March 3, 1845. While in the United States Senate, he was chairman of the Committee on Private Land Claims in the 27th Congress, a member of the Committee on District of Columbia in the 27th Congress, and a member of the Committee on Naval Affairs in the 27th Congress and 28th Congress. He did not seek reelection in 1844, but later served as chargé d'affaires to Belgium from 1850 to 1853.

Death and legacy

Bayard died at Philadelphia and is buried in the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery at Wilmington. He was the second of five Bayards to serve in the United States Senate.


The General Assembly chose the U.S. Senators, who took office March 4 for a six-year term. In this case, he was initially completing the existing term, the vacancy caused by the resignation of Arnold Naudain. However, he resigned the position before the term ended only to accept appointment over a year later in a new term which he completed. Between his resignation and appointment, the position was vacant.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington June 17, 1836 September 19, 1839
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington January 12, 1841 March 3, 1845
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1836–1837 24th U.S. Senate Democratic Andrew Jackson class 1
1837–1839 25th U.S. Senate Democratic Martin Van Buren class 1
1839–1841 26th U.S. Senate Democratic Martin Van Buren class 1
1841–1843 27th U.S. Senate Whig William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Private Land Claims
District of Columbia
class 1
1843–1845 28th U.S. Senate Whig John Tyler Naval Affairs class 1


  1. ^ this seat was vacant from September 19, 1839 until January 11, 1841.
  2. ^ this seat was vacant from September 19, 1839 until January 11, 1841.


  • Hoffecker, Carol E. (2004). Democracy in Delaware. Cedar Tree Books, Wilmington. ISBN 1-892142-23-6.
  • Martin, Roger A. (2003). Delawareans in Congress: The House of Representatives. Roger A. Martin, Newark. ISBN 0-924117-26-5.
  • Munroe, John A. (1993). History of Delaware. University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-493-5.


External links

Places with more information

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Arnold Naudain
Senator from Delaware
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Senator from Delaware
Succeeded by
John M. Clayton
This page was last edited on 22 September 2019, at 13:52
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