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History and GovernmentCongressional BiographiesDelaware

John Middleton CLAYTON

(1796-1856)
Senate Years of Service:
1829-1836; 1845-1849; 1853-1856
Party:
Anti-Jacksonian; Whig; Opposition

CLAYTON, John Middleton, (nephew of Joshua Clayton, cousin of Thomas Clayton, and great-granduncle of C. Douglass Buck), a Senator from Delaware; born in Dagsboro, Sussex County, Del., July 24, 1796; pursued preparatory studies at academies in Berlin, Md., and Milford, Del., and graduated from Yale College in 1815; studied law at the Litchfield Law School; admitted to the bar in 1819 and commenced practice in Dover; member, State house of representatives 1824; secretary of State of Delaware 1826-1828; elected as an Anti-Jacksonian to the United States Senate in 1829; reelected in 1835 and served from March 4, 1829, until December 29, 1836, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on the Judiciary (Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses); chief justice of Delaware 1837-1839; elected as a Whig to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1845, until February 23, 1849, when he resigned to accept a Cabinet position; Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President Zachary Taylor 1849-1850; while Secretary of State negotiated the Clayton-Bulwer treaty with Great Britain; again elected as a Whig (later Opposition Party) to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1853, until his death in Dover, Del., November 9, 1856; interment in Presbyterian Cemetery.

Bibliography

American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Comegys, Joseph. Memoir of John M. Clayton. Wilmington: Historical Society of Delaware, 1882; Wire, Richard. “John M. Clayton and the Search for Order: A Study in Whig Politics and Diplomacy.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Maryland, 1971.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present

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