Nicholas Van Dyke (senator)

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Nicholas Van Dyke
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
March 4, 1817 – May 21, 1826
Preceded by William H. Wells
Succeeded by Daniel Rodney
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's At-large district
In office
October 6, 1807 – March 4, 1811
Preceded by James M. Broom
Succeeded by Henry M. Ridgely
Personal details
Born (1770-12-20)December 20, 1770
New Castle, Delaware
Died May 21, 1826(1826-05-21) (aged 55)
New Castle, Delaware
Political party Federalist Party
Spouse(s) Mary Ann Leuvaneigh
Residence New Castle, Delaware
Alma mater College of New Jersey
Profession lawyer
Religion Episcopalian

Nicholas Van Dyke (December 20, 1770 – May 21, 1826) was an American lawyer and politician from New Castle, Delaware. He was a member of the Federalist Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly, as Attorney General of Delaware, as U.S. Representative from Delaware, and as U.S. Senator from Delaware.

Early life and family[edit]

Van Dyke was born in New Castle, Delaware, son of Nicholas and Charlotte Stanley Van Dyke. His father had been a member of the Continental Congress and a President of Delaware. The younger Nicholas graduated from the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University in 1788, studied law with his brother-in-law, Kensy Johns, and was admitted to the Delaware Bar in New Castle, in 1792. He married Mary Ann Leuvaneigh in 1792. They had six children, including Nicholas III, Kensey Johns, and Dorcas Montgomery and lived at many houses in and around New Castle. One of these was at the corner of Delaware and Fourth Streets and was the location of the 1824 wedding of Dorcas Van Dyke and Charles I. du Pont, which was attended by the Marquis de Lafayette. His farm and summer retreat, The Hermitage, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.[1] The family were members of Immanuel Episcopal Church.

Political career[edit]

Van Dyke was a Federalist who was a member of the Delaware House of Representatives in 1799. From 1801 until 1806 he served as Delaware Attorney General. In 1807 he was elected to the 10th United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of U.S. Representative James M. Broom. He was reelected to the 11th Congress, and served in the U.S. House from October 6, 1807 until March 3, 1811. With the Federalists a powerless minority in Congress, he returned home to serve as the Attorney General of Delaware. Subsequently, he was elected to the Delaware State Senate for the 1816 and 1817 sessions. While serving there he was elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1817 until his death on May 21, 1826. He missed the first month and a half of the 18th Congress, as his first term in the Senate expired on March 3, 1823, and he was not re-elected by the Delaware Legislature until January 7, 1824. He did not take his seat in the Senate for the 18th Congress until January 14, 1824, while the Senate had convened on December 1, 1823. He was Chairman of the Committee on Pensions in the 16th U.S. Congress.

Death and legacy[edit]

Van Dyke died at New Castle, and is buried there in the Immanuel Episcopal Church Cemetery. He was compared to other lawyers by one who knew him as a "sound lawyer and superior to them all as a fluent, graceful and successful advocate and in the skillful management of his cases." [2]


Elections were held the first Tuesday of October and members of the General Assembly took office on the first Tuesday of January. The State Senate had a term of three years and the State House had a term of one year. U.S. Representatives took office March 4 and have a two-year term. The General Assembly chose the U.S. Senators who also took office March 4, but for a six-year term.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
State Representative Legislature Dover January 1, 1799 January 7, 1800
Attorney General Executive Dover 1801 1806 Delaware
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington October 6, 1807 March 3, 1809 [3]
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington March 4, 1809 March 3, 1811
State Senator Legislature Dover January 6, 1816 March 3, 1817
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington March 4, 1817 March 3, 1823
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington March 4, 1823 May 21, 1826
Delaware General Assembly service
Dates Assembly Chamber Majority Governor Committees District
1799 23rd State House Federalist Richard Bassett New Castle at-large
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1807–1809 10th U.S. House Republican Thomas Jefferson at-large
1809–1811 11th U.S. House Republican James Madison at-large
1817–1819 15th U.S. Senate Republican James Monroe class 2
1819–1821 16th U.S. Senate Republican James Monroe class 2
1821–1823 17th U.S. Senate Republican James Monroe class 2
1823–1825 18th U.S. Senate Republican James Monroe class 2
1825–1827 19th U.S. Senate Democratic John Quincy Adams class 2
Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % notes
1807 U.S. Representative Nicholas Van Dyke Federalist 3,294 52% John Dickinson Republican 3,078 48% [4]
1808 U.S. Representative Nicholas Van Dyke Federalist 3,242 53% Joseph Haslet Republican 2,837 47%


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ Rodney, Richard S. (1975). The Collected Essays of Richard S. Rodney on Early Delaware. Wilmington, DE: The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Delaware. 
  3. ^ elected to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of James M. Broom, seated December 2, 1807
  4. ^ Special election August 6, 1807 to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of James M. Broom.


  • Conrad, Henry C. (1908). History of the State of Delaware, 3 vols. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Wickersham Company. 
  • Martin, Roger A. (1995). Memoirs of the Senate. Newark, DE: Roger A. Martin. 
  • Martin, Roger A. (2003). Delawareans in Congress. Middletown, DE: Roger A. Martin. ISBN 0-924117-26-5. 
  • Rodney, Richard S. (1975). The Collected Essays of Richard S. Rodney on Early Delaware. Wilmington, DE: The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Delaware. 
  • Scharf, John Thomas (1888). History of Delaware 1609-1888. 2 vols. Philadelphia: L. J. Richards & Co. 

Places with more information[edit]

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