William L. Dayton
|William Lewis Dayton|
|United States Senator
from New Jersey
July 2, 1842 – March 4, 1851
|Preceded by||Samuel L. Southard|
|Succeeded by||Robert F. Stockton|
February 17, 1807|
Basking Ridge, New Jersey
|Died||December 1, 1864
|Political party||Whig, Republican|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret E. Dayton|
William Lewis Dayton (February 17, 1807 – December 1, 1864) was an American politician, active first in the Whig Party and later in the Republican Party. In 1856, he was the first Republican vice-presidential candidate. During the American Civil War, Dayton served as the United States Ambassador to France.
A distant relation of U.S. House Speaker and U.S. Constitution signatory Jonathan Dayton, he was born in Basking Ridge, New Jersey to farmer Joel Dayton and his wife. He graduated from College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1825 and worked as a lawyer in Freehold.
In 1837, he was elected to the New Jersey Legislative Council, then became an associate judge of the New Jersey Supreme Court the following year. Following the death of U.S. Senator Samuel L. Southard he was appointed to the United States Senate starting July 2, 1842 and was re-elected by the New Jersey Legislature as a Whig in 1845, but lost in 1851, ending his service on March 4.
In 1856, he was selected by the nascent Republican Party as their first nominee for Vice President of the United States over Abraham Lincoln at the Philadelphia Convention. He and his running mate, John C. Fremont, lost to the Democratic ticket of James Buchanan and John C. Breckinridge. Afterwards, he served as New Jersey Attorney General until 1861, when President Lincoln appointed him Minister to France, serving in that role from 1861–1864 throughout most of the American Civil War. There, Dayton was part of a successful lobbying campaign to prevent the government of Napoleon III from recognizing the independence of the Confederacy or allowing Confederate use of French ports. Dayton died in Paris in 1864 while serving in that capacity. He was buried in Riverview Cemetery, Trenton, New Jersey.
- James, George. "He's Looked at Life From Both Sides Now", The New York Times, "Buried here too is William Lewis Dayton, the first Republican vice presidential candidate who defeated Lincoln for the position in 1856 but lost the presidential nomination to him in 1860." February 20, 2000. Accessed December 29, 2007.
- "South Brunswick Township History". Retrieved 2012-11-09.
In 1866, the name was changed from Cross Roads to Dayton, in honor of William L. Dayton, an attorney for the Freehold and Jamesburg Agricultural Railroad. ...
- Republican Campaign Edition for the Million. Containing the Republican Platform, the Lives of Fremont and Dayton, with Beautiful Steel Portraits of Each, 1856 (Boston: John P. Jewett), via Illinois Historical Digitization Projects of the Northern Illinois University Libraries
- Biographical Dictionary of the U.S. Congress
- Photograph of William Lewis Dayton at PictureHistory.com
- William L. Dayton Papers at the Princeton University Library
|United States Senate|
Samuel L. Southard
|U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New Jersey
Served alongside: Jacob W. Miller
Robert F. Stockton
|Party political offices|
|New political party||Republican vice presidential nominee
Richard P. Thompson
|New Jersey Attorney General
Frederick T. Frelinghuysen
Charles J. Faulkner
|United States Minister to France