Wilbur L. Adams

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Wilbur L. Adams
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's At-large district
In office
March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1935
Preceded by Robert G. Houston
Succeeded by J. George Stewart
Personal details
Born (1884-10-23)October 23, 1884
Georgetown, Delaware
Died December 4, 1937(1937-12-04) (aged 53)
Lewes, Delaware
Political party Democratic
Residence Wilmington, Delaware
Alma mater Dickinson College
University of Pennsylvania School of Law
Profession lawyer

Wilbur Louis Adams (October 23, 1884 – December 4, 1937) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party, who served as U.S. Representative from Delaware.

Early life and family[edit]

Adams was born in Georgetown, Delaware, son of William Dunning Adams and Sarah Lavinia (Thompson) Adams. He attended Delaware College in Newark and Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 1907 he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law at Philadelphia, was admitted to the Delaware Bar, and began the practice of law in Wilmington.

Political career[edit]

Adams was an unsuccessful candidate for election as state Attorney General in 1924. Unlike the rest of the nation, Delaware had no Democratic landslide in 1932, but the incumbent Republican U.S. Representative, Robert G. Houston, was involved in an intra-party dispute over prohibition and failed to win the Republican nomination.

As a result, Adams was able to win a narrow victory, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1932, defeating Republican Reuben Satterthwaite, Jr. During this term, he served with the Democratic majority in the 73rd Congress. In the U.S. House, Adams voted with the straight New Deal program. He served from March 4, 1933 until January 3, 1935, during the administration of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1934, Adams decided not to seek reelection, but rather to challenge the popular incumbent U.S. Senator John G. Townsend, Jr. for his U.S. Senate seat. A thoughtful moderate Republican, Townsend had supported much of the New Deal legislation, and had demonstrated considerable effectiveness through his involvement in the establishment of such things as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. By contrast, Adams had a low profile in the House of Representatives and Townsend was able to raise questions about Adams' effectiveness for Delaware. Once again bucking national trends, Delaware had its own local Republican landslide in 1934, led by Townsend. Adams came home and moved to Georgetown, Delaware where he continued the practice of law. He was also the acting Postmaster at Georgetown, from May 6, 1937, until his death.

Death and legacy[edit]

Adams died at the Beebe Hospital, Lewes, Delaware. He is buried in the Union Cemetery, located at South Race Street, Georgetown.

Almanac[edit]

Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1st. U.S. Representatives took office March 4th and have a two-year term. Since 1935 all Congressional terms began January 3rd.


Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington March 4, 1933 January 3, 1935


United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1933–1935 73rd U.S. House Democratic Franklin D. Roosevelt at-large


Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1924 State Attorney General Wilbur L. Adams Democratic Republican
1932 U.S. Representative Wilbur L. Adams Democratic 51,698 46% Reuben Satterthwaite, Jr. Republican 48,841 44%
1934 U.S. Senator Wilbur L. Adams Democratic 45,771 46% John G. Townsend, Jr. Republican 52,829 53%

References[edit]

  • Carter, Richard B. (2001). Clearing New Ground, The Life of John G. Townsend, Jr. Wilmington, Delaware: The Delaware Heritage Press. ISBN 0-924117-20-6. 

Images[edit]

External links[edit]