Alexis I. du Pont Bayard
|Alexis I. du Pont Bayard|
|seeking legal portrait copy|
|13th Lieutenant Governor of Delaware|
January 20, 1949 – January 15, 1953
|Preceded by||Elbert N. Carvel|
|Succeeded by||John W. Rollins|
February 11, 1918|
|Died||September 3, 1985
|Spouse(s)||Jane Brady Hildreth|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Alexis Irénée du Pont "Lex" Bayard (February 11, 1918 - September 3, 1985) was an American lawyer and politician from Rockland, near Greenville, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a veteran of World War II, and a member of the Democratic Party, who served as the 13th Lieutenant Governor of Delaware.
Early Life and family
Bayard was born in Wilmington, Delaware, son of U.S. Senator Thomas F. Bayard, Jr. and Elizabeth Bradford du Pont Bayard. He was named after his maternal great-grandfather, Alexis Irénée du Pont. Bayard was the scion of two prominent Delaware families. On his father’s side, Alexis descended from the politically powerful Bayard family. The Bayard’s had long been bulwarks of Delaware’s Democratic Party, with each of the previous five generations of the Bayard family having represented Delaware in the United States Senate. Bayard’s mother, Elizabeth Bradford du Pont, was the daughter of Alexis Irénée du Pont, Jr., granddaughter of Alexis Irénée du Pont, and great-grand daughter of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont. He was the founder of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, the gunpowder and chemicals company that grew to dominate northern Delaware in the early twentieth century. By this time the du Pont’s were a large and enormously wealthy family, many of whom were involved in the political life of Delaware.
He married Jane Brady Hildreth on April 24, 1944, and they had three children; Alexis du Pont, Jr., Eugene Hildreth, and Richard Henry. During World War II, he served in the United States Marine Corps. Bayard had studied the law, and upon returning, began a practice in Wilmington, Delaware.
A war veteran with a well-known name, the 30 year old Bayard was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1948, defeating Republican Chester V. Townsend, Jr. of Dagsboro, who was Speaker of the Delaware House of Representatives. He served as Lieutenant Governor from January 20, 1949 until January 15, 1953. In 1948 he also served as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
Bayard lost a bid for a seat in the United States Senate in 1952 to the incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John J. Williams. Bayard’s inexperience and aristocratic roots compared unfavorably to Williams' "rags-to-riches" rise from chicken farmer to national figure. These factors, along with Williams' reputation for honesty, integrity, fairness, and bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate and the popularity of the Republican's U.S. Presidential candidate, Dwight D. Eisenhower, led the incumbent to a ten point victory over Bayard at the polls.
After his defeat by Williams, Bayard resumed his law practice and remained an active supporter of the Democratic Party.
Death and legacy
Bayard died in Wilmington, Delaware on September 3, 1985 during heart-bypass surgery at Graduate Hospital. He was buried at the Old Swedes Episcopal Church Cemetery, alongside his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Old Swedes Church is the oldest church building in the United States, still standing as originally built.
Bayard was the last member of his line to be elected to public office, thus ending a six generation tradition. After his death, the Alexis I. du Pont Bayard Award was created for distinguished service to the party. His son, Richard H. Bayard, has served as Chairman of the Delaware Democratic Party.
Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. The Lieutenant Governor takes office the third Tuesday of January and has a four-year term.
|Office||Type||Location||Began office||Ended office||notes|
|Lt. Governor||Executive||Dover||January 20, 1949||January 15, 1953|
|1948||Lt. Governor||Alexis I. du Pont Bayard||Democratic||74,605||53%||Chester V. Townsend, Jr.||Republican||65,545||47%|
|1952||U.S. Senator||Alexis I. du Pont Bayard||Democratic||77,685||45%||John J. Williams||Republican||93,020||55%|
- "Alexis I. Du Pont Bayard, Lawyer And Political Leader". Philadelphia Inquirer. September 5, 1985. Retrieved 2012-11-28. "Alexis I. du Pont Bayard, 67, former lieutenant governor of Delaware and a member of the finance committee of the Democratic National Committee, died Tuesday during heart-bypass surgery at Graduate Hospital. A lawyer who was known as "Lex," he maintained a law office in Wilmington and homes in Wilmington and in Rehoboth Beach. He was a partner in Bayard, Bill & Handelman, a law firm that lists major corporations and national organizations among ..."
- Cohen, Celia (2002). Only in Delaware, Politics and Politicians in the First State. Newark, Delaware: Grapevine Publishing.
- Hoffecker, Carol E. (2000). Honest John Williams. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press.
Places with more information
- Delaware Historical Society; website; 505 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware 19801; (302) 655-7161
- University of Delaware; Library website; 181 South College Avenue, Newark, Delaware 19717; (302) 831-2965