Mark W. Delahay

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Mark W. Delahay
Mark W. Delahay.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas
In office
March 15, 1864 – December 12, 1873
Nominated byAbraham Lincoln
Preceded byArchibald Williams
Succeeded byCassius Gaius Foster
Personal details
Talbot County, Maryland, U.S.
Died(1879-05-08)May 8, 1879 (aged 50–51)
Kansas City, Kansas, U.S.

Mark William Delahay (1828 – May 8, 1879) was a United States federal judge, and an early supporter of the Republican Party. A friend of Abraham Lincoln, Delahay was appointed by Lincoln to the federal bench, but he resigned a decade later under threat of impeachment, brought about by allegations of alcoholism.

Early life[edit]

Born in Talbot County, Maryland, Delahay entered private practice in Illinois sometime before 1853. He was an editor for the Virginia Observer, a newspaper of Virginia, Illinois from 1848 to 1849. In 1853, he relocated his practice to Mobile, Alabama, and in 1855 moved again to practice in Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1857, he became the owner and editor of a Kansas newspaper, The Territorial Register. He was a chief clerk in the Kansas Territorial House of Representatives from 1860 to 1861, and then a surveyor general of Kansas and Nebraska from 1861 to 1863.[2]

Delahey had a personal friendship with Abraham Lincoln originating with their mutual cause in establishing the Republican Party.[3] In 1859, Delahay sought the Republican nomination for a United States Senate seat for Kansas.

He evidently wanted Lincoln to intercede with General James H. Lane in his behalf. Instead of approaching Lane directly, as Delahay asked, Lincoln sought to accomplish the desired end by a somewhat circuitous, but equally effective route. He wrote Delahay a letter in which he committed himself to his candidacy, at the same time telling him he might show the letter to General Lane and thus gain the latter's support — a suggestive specimen of Lincoln's subtlety as a politician. In April, 1861, Lincoln appointed Delahay Surveyor-General of Kansas and Nebraska, which office he seems to have filled till October 5, 1863, when Lincoln appointed him United States District Judge for Kansas. His daughter, Mary E. Delahay, is authority for the statement that Lincoln offered to appoint him Minister to Chile, which post he declined.[3]

Federal judicial service[edit]

On October 6, 1863, Delahay received a recess appointment from President Abraham Lincoln to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Kansas vacated by Archibald Williams. He was formally nominated to the seat on December 14, 1863, but his confirmation by the United States Senate did not come until March 15, 1864. He received his commission on the day of his confirmation.[2]

Delahey was impeached by the United States House of Representatives on February 28, 1873 for "intoxication off the bench as well as on the bench",[4] but he resigned from office on December 12, 1873, with no trial having yet been held on his impeachment. He died in Kansas City, Kansas.[2]


  1. ^ "Delahay Portraits". Kansapedia. Kansas Historical Society.
  2. ^ a b c Mark W. Delahay at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ a b Jesse William Weik, The real Lincoln: a portrait (1922).
  4. ^ Emily Field Van Tassel, Paul Finkelman, Impeachable offenses: a documentary history from 1787 to the present (1999), p. 120.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Archibald Williams
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas
Succeeded by
Cassius Gaius Foster