Bayard Jr, James Asheton
Autograph Slip Signed, n.d. 4 x 1 1/2 mounted - Fine/Very Fine
"James Asheton Bayard, Jr. (November 15, 1799 - June 13, 1880) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party, who served as U.S. Senator from Delaware.
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 older brother, Richard H. Bayard, was also a U.S. Senator from Delaware.
Bayard studied the law, and began his legal practice in the city of Wilmington. From 1836 until 1843 he served as United States District Attorney for Delaware and in 1851 was elected by the General Assembly to the United States 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 was generally a conservative and adhered to his interpretation of tradition throughout the Civil War. He believed that the seceding states should be allowed to go their own way, but did not call for Delaware to secede from the Union. Citing property rights of owners, he opposed abolitionist measures. He also stated both his opposition to the Civil War and his opposition to the any presidential acts used to suppress the rebellion of the Southern states.
During the Civil War, the United States Senate passed a rule stating that all senators would have to swear an oath of loyalty to the Union. Bayard refused, stating that such an oath would be unconstitutional, and resigned his post in the Senate.
When the death of his successor, George R. Riddle, caused a vacancy in the United States Senate in 1867, Bayard interrupted his practice of law in Wilmington and served again as the U.S. Senator from April 5, 1867, to March 4, 1869.
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, Sr. and grandfather of U.S. Senator Thomas F. Bayard, Jr.