Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Bayard, James Asheton
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Bayard, James Asheton
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|Edition of 1900. Written by James Grant Wilson. See also James A. Bayard (elder) on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer.|
BAYARD, James Asheton, statesman, b. in Philadelphia, 28 July, 1767; d. in Wilmington, Del., 6 Aug., 1815. He was the son of Dr. James Asheton Bayard, and nephew of Col. John Bayard, into whose family he was adopted after his father's death, which occurred on 8 June, 1770. He was graduated at Princeton in 1784, studied law under Gen. Joseph Reed and Jared Ingersoll, was admitted to the bar in 1787, and settled in Wilmington, Del., where he acquired a high reputation. In 1796 he was elected a representative in congress as a federalist. He was distinguished as an orator and constitutional lawyer and became a leader of the party in the house. In 1797 he distinguished himself by his management of the impeachment of William Blount, of North Carolina, who was expelled from the senate for instigating the Creeks and Cherokees to assist the English in their aim of conquering the Spanish possessions in Louisiana. In 1801, when the choice between Burr and Jefferson in the undecided presidential election of 1800 devolved upon the house of representatives, Bayard stood at the head of the federalists, and his influence, combined with that of Alexander Hamilton, contributed chiefly to bring about the election of Jefferson. President Adams appointed him minister to France before the accession of the new administration in 1801, and the senate confirmed the nomination, but the appointment was declined. In the 8th congress, which met 7 Dec., 1801, he opposed, with great force, on constitutional grounds, the repeal of the judiciary bill, enacted by federalist votes in the preceding session. He served in the house of representatives from 15 May, 1797, till 3 March, 1803. In 1804 he was chosen the successor of William Hill Wells when the latter resigned his seat as representative of Delaware in the U. S. senate. He sat in the senate from 15 Jan., 1805, to 3 March, 1813, and opposed the declaration of war against Great Britain in 1812. In 1813 he was selected by President Madison joint commissioner with Albert Gallatin (who was afterward rejected by the senate), and John Quincy Adams, to conclude a peace with Great Britain, through the mediation of Russia. He left Philadelphia 8 May, 1813, and met his fellow-commissioner, Mr. Adams, at that time envoy to Russia, at St. Petersburg in July of that year. After the refusal of Great Britain to treat at St. Petersburg, he was included in the new commission, constituted 18 Jan., consisting, besides himself and John Q. Adams, of Henry Clay and Jonathan Russell, Albert Gallatin being added in the following month. Going to Holland, he took a prominent part in the negotiations that resulted in the treaty of peace signed at Ghent, 24 Dec., 1814. He received the appointment of minister to the court of St. Petersburg, but declined the mission, declaring that he had no desire to serve the administration except where his services were necessary for the good of the country. When about to proceed to London to continue the work of the commission which included the negotiation of a treaty of commerce, he was taken alarmingly ill and returned home, only to die immediately after his arrival. His wife, daughter of Gov. Richard Bassett, of Delaware, died 10 Dec., 1854, aged seventy-six. Senator Bayard's speech on the foreign intercourse bill was published in 1798, and another on the repeal of the judiciary bill in a volume of the speeches of 1802.