Thomas F. Bayard

Thomas F. Bayard
Thomas F. Bayard, Brady-Handy photo portrait, circa 1870-1880.jpg
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
In office
June 22, 1893 – March 17, 1897
PresidentGrover Cleveland
William McKinley
Preceded byRobert Todd Lincoln (Minister)
Succeeded byJohn Hay
30th United States Secretary of State
In office
March 7, 1885 – March 6, 1889
PresidentGrover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Preceded byFrederick Theodore Frelinghuysen
Succeeded byJames G. Blaine
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
October 10, 1881 – October 13, 1881
Preceded byAllen G. Thurman
Succeeded byDavid Davis
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
March 4, 1869 – March 6, 1885
Preceded byJames A. Bayard Jr.
Succeeded byGeorge Gray
Personal details
Thomas Francis Bayard

(1828-10-29)October 29, 1828
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
DiedSeptember 28, 1898(1898-09-28) (aged 69)
Dedham, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Louise Lee
Mary Clymer

Thomas Francis Bayard (October 29, 1828 – September 28, 1898) was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat from Wilmington, Delaware. A Democrat, he served three terms as United States Senator from Delaware and made three unsuccessful bids for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. In 1885, President Grover Cleveland appointed him Secretary of State. After four years in private life, he returned to the diplomatic arena as Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Born in Delaware to a prominent family, Bayard learned politics from his father, James A. Bayard Jr., who also served in the Senate. In 1869, the Delaware legislature elected Bayard to the Senate upon his father's retirement. A Peace Democrat during the Civil War, Bayard spent his early years in the Senate in opposition to Republican policies, especially the Reconstruction of the defeated Confederacy. His conservatism extended to financial matters, as he became known as a staunch supporter of the gold standard and an opponent of greenbacks and silver coinage, which he believed would cause inflation. Bayard's conservative politics made him popular in the South and with Eastern financial interests, but never popular enough to obtain the Democratic nomination for President, which he attempted to win in 1876, 1880, and 1884.

In 1885, President Cleveland appointed Bayard Secretary of State. Bayard worked with Cleveland to promote American trade in the Pacific while avoiding the acquisition of colonies at a time when many Americans clamored for them. He sought increased cooperation with Great Britain, working to resolve disputes over fishing and seal-hunting rights in the waters around the Canada–United States border. As ambassador, Bayard continued to strive for Anglo-American friendship. This brought him into conflict with his successor at the State Department, Richard Olney, when Olney and Cleveland demanded more aggressive diplomatic overtures than Bayard wished in the Venezuela Crisis of 1895. His term at the American embassy ended in 1897, and he died the following year.

Early life and family

Thomas F. Bayard was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1828, the second son of James A. Bayard Jr. and Anne née Francis.[1] The Bayard family was prominent in Delaware: Bayard's father would be elected to the United States Senate in 1851. Among Thomas Bayard's ancestors were his grandfather, James A. Bayard, also a Senator; and great-grandfather, Richard Bassett, who served as Senator from, and Governor of, Delaware.[2] Several other relatives served in high office, including Bayard's uncle, Richard H. Bayard, another Delaware Senator, and his great-great-uncle, Nicholas Bayard, who was Mayor of New York City.[2] On his mother's side, Bayard descended from Philadelphia lawyer and financier Tench Francis Jr.[3]

Thomas Bayard was educated in private academies in Wilmington and, after his father moved to New York City for business reasons, in Flushing, New York.[3] James Bayard returned to Delaware in 1843, but Thomas remained in New York, working as a clerk in the mercantile firm of his brother-in-law, August Schermerhorn.[3] In 1846, his father secured him a job in a banking firm in Philadelphia, and Bayard worked there for the next two years.[4] Bayard was unsatisfied with his progress at the firm, and returned to Wilmington to read law at his father's office.[4]

Bayard was admitted to the bar in 1851, the year his father was elected to the United States Senate.[a] Thomas took on greater responsibilities in the family law office, and rose quickly in the legal profession.[5] In 1853, after the election of a Democratic president, Franklin Pierce, Thomas Bayard was appointed United States Attorney for Delaware.[6] He spent only a year in the position before moving to Philadelphia to open a practice with his friend William Shippen, a partnership that lasted until Shippen's death in 1858.[6] While in Philadelphia, Bayard met Louise Lee, whom he married in October 1856. The marriage produced twelve children.[7]