Civil War President Cand New Jersey Senator Minister France Signed Letter 1849
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Civil War President Cand New Jersey Senator Minister France Signed Letter 1849 :
William Lewis Dayton
(1807 – 1864)
Civil War era Republican Vice Presidential Candidate with
General Fremont in 1856,
19th Century United States Senator from New Jersey,
Appointed United States Civil War Minister to
France by President
Lincoln in 1861
Judge of the NJ Supreme Court - One of the Great American
Here’s an 1849 Autograph Letter Signed by Dayton to the Honorable Senator Thomas Ewing, Secretary of the Interior [addressed to Ewing on the integral leaf - hand-carried letter with no postal markings on the address leaf] . Dayton writes a glowing letter of introduction for Mr. Samuel Gummere of Trenton, NJ., Clerk of the Chancery Court of NJ. Dayton boldly signs,
"Wm. L. Dayton."
Dayton was New Jersey's Attorney General until 1861, when President Lincoln appointed him
Minister to France,
serving in that role from 1861–1864 throughout most of the American Civil War. There, Dayton
lobbied the government of Napoleon III not to recognize the independence of the Confederacy
or allow it the use of
French ports. Dayton died in Paris in 1864 while serving in that capacity. Dayton's son,
William Lewis Dayton, Jr.
(1839–1897), graduated from Princeton in 1858 and served as President Chester A. Arthur's
Minister to the
Netherlands from 1882–1885.
The document measures 6" x 8" and is in very good, clean condition - boldly
executed by Sen.
Dayton. NOTE: THE 19TH CENTURY PERIOD ENGRAVING IS INCLUDED WITH THE AUTOGRAPH!!
A RARE addition to your Civil War era Presidential History Autograph & Manuscript
<<<=== BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE HONORABLE WILLIAM LEWIS DAYTON ===>>>
Dayton, William Lewis (17 Feb. 1807-1 Dec. 1864),
politician and diplomat, was
born at Baskingridge, New Jersey, the son of Joel Dayton, a shoemaker, and Nancy Lewis. After
attending a local
academy, he matriculated at Princeton College, graduating in 1825 as an "ordinary member" of
his class. While
teaching school he studied law in Somerville and was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1830.
In 1833 he
married Margaret Elmendorf Van Der Veer; they had seven children.
Benefiting politically from the nationwide
economic collapse in 1837, Dayton was elected to the New Jersey
legislature as a Whig. He held his seat for only a few weeks before accepting an appointment
at age thirty-one as
an associate justice of the state supreme court. After occupying a seat on New Jersey's
highest tribunal for less
than four years, Dayton, lamenting that his judicial salary was too meager to support his
growing family, resigned
his judgeship in 1841 to reenter private law practice in Trenton. He had scarcely opened an
office and begun to
accumulate clients when in 1842 Governor William Pennington (1796-1862) appointed him--on the
Dayton's distinguished cousin Samuel Lewis Southard--to fill the latter's unexpired term as a
U.S. senator. Dayton
was only thirty-five years old.
Reelected by the New Jersey legislature in 1845 for a full six-year term,
Dayton was a senator until March 1851.
His contributions to the legislation of this era were few, partly because his party was out
of power much of the
time and partly because of his cautious, self-effacing nature and his insistence on remaining
independent, refusing to act against his personal convictions under pressure from leaders of
the legislature, to
which he was beholden for his Senate seat. Eschewing notoriety, he was esteemed more for his
sense than for oratorical eloquence or vision.
On one issue Dayton stood out among
his fellow senators. At a time when it would have been politically expedient
in New Jersey, the northern state most sympathetic to the South's "peculiar institution," to
refrain from antislavery
pronouncements, Dayton voted against making war on Mexico as a way of expanding slave
territory, supported the
Wilmont Proviso excluding slavery from the lands acquired from Mexico, opposed the admission
of Texas as a
slave state, and spoke vehemently against the Compromise of 1850 as enhancing the power of
slavery.With the return of the Democrats to
power in the New Jersey legislature, Dayton lost his Senate seat. In March
1851 he resumed the practice of law. He continued to be politically active, however, and in
1856 he joined the
newly formed Republican party. Within a few weeks he became its first vice presidential
nominee on the national
ticket with John Charles Frémont, having outpolled Abraham Lincoln of Illinois in the
scramble for delegate votes
at the first Republican National Nominating Convention at Philadelphia.
Following the defeat of the Republican ticket
in November, Dayton had hardly returned once more to his private
law practice when he was appointed attorney general of New Jersey. He held that position from
1857 until early
1861, when he resigned to accept a diplomatic appointment from the first Republican
Lincoln, who as a young congressman had admired Dayton's independent
antislavery stand in the U.S. Senate,
wanted to make the New Jersey lawyer his minister to Great Britain. Only the determination of
Secretary of State
William Seward to have the London mission occupied by his friend Charles Francis Adams (1807
persuaded Lincoln reluctantly to send Dayton to Paris instead.
At the court of the Emperor Louis Napoleon, Dayton served creditably as the American
envoy, despite his inability
to speak or to understand French. Ably supported by the American consul, John Bigelow, and
wisely guided by
Seward, Dayton helped to fend off European intervention on the side of the Confederate States
of America that
might have permanently divided the American Union. In scores of interviews with French
officials, he vigorously
argued against assistance to the Confederate cause, making good use of French suspicions of
the British to
undermine the "understanding" that the two European powers had developed with regard to the
Among the problems with which Dayton successfully grappled during the Civil War were
of Maximilian's puppet government in Mexico, southern efforts to construct warships in French
shipyards, and the
cotton shortage in Europe, which provided a pretext for Anglo-French intervention in the
American conflict.Inexperienced in
international relations and therefore feeling his way at the outset of his mission, Dayton
eventually became an able diplomatist. Dignified and diligent, he won the respect of two
notable French foreign
ministers, Antoine Edouard Thouvenel and Edouard Drouyn de Lhuys. Americans living in or
Paris found him honorable, generous, affable, and urbane, and his colleagues in the corps
remarked upon his discretion and prudence as he labored to preserve amicable relations
between the United
States and France in the face of great danger of a Franco-American clash of arms.An
increasing addiction to the pleasures of the table exacerbated Dayton's chronic ill health by
1864. His sudden
death late that year in the apartment of a well-known courtesan created a delicate situation
when friends delivered
his body unexpectedly to his wife at their Paris residence. He was eventually buried in
Riverview Cemetery at
Trenton.Despite being in poor health much of his life, Dayton played a significant
role in the political history of New Jersey.
As the U.S. minister in France during the Civil War, he labored successfully to maintain good
his government and that of Napoleon III in circumstances where a more impulsive or less
might well have helped to trigger a transatlantic war.
The only substantial collection of Dayton's papers is at the Princeton University
Library. Scattered correspondence
is in the collected papers of many contemporaries. All of Dayton's official correspondence
during his ministerial
service at Paris is in the State Department records, RG 59, National Archives. Nothing
approaching a full-scale
biography of Dayton has yet been published. Two sketches are Walter L. Whittlesey, "William
Lewis Dayton, 1825:
Senator--Presidential Candidate--Civil War Minister to France--A Forgotten Princetonian Who
Served His Country
Well," Princeton Alumni Weekly 30 (9 May 1930): 797-802, and J. P. Bradley, "A Memoir of the
Life and Character of
Hon. Wm. L. Dayton," Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, 2d ser., 4 (1875): 69
-118. Dayton's early
career is discussed in Lucius Q. C. Elmer, The Constitution and Government of the Province
and State of New
Jersey, with Biographical Sketches of the Governors from 1776 to 1845. And Reminiscences of
the Bench and
Bar, during More Than Half a Century (1872). Dayton's diplomatic service during the Civil War
is treated in John
Bigelow, Retrospections of an Active Life (3 vols., 1909), and Lynn M. Case and Warren F.
Spencer, The United
States and France: Civil War Diplomacy (1970).[SOURCE: American National Biography]
I am a proud member of
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America, the Manuscript Society and the American Political Items Collectors
(APIC) (member name: John Lissandrello). I subscribe to each organizations'
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