Bates, Martin Waltham

Life Span
Dickinson Connection
Trustee, 1838-1851
    Full name
    Martin Waltham Bates
    Place of Birth
    Birth Date Certainty
    Death Date Certainty
    Sectional choice
    Free State
    Attorney or Judge
    Relation to Slavery
    White non-slaveholder
    Political Parties
    US Senate
    State legislature

    Martin Waltham Bates (Congressional Biographical Directory)

    BATES, Martin Waltham, a Senator from Delaware; born in Salisbury, Conn., February 24, 1786; attended the common schools; moved to Delaware and taught school for several years; studied medicine and later studied law; admitted to the bar in 1822 and commenced practice in Dover, Kent County, Del.; member, State house of representatives 1826; delegate to the State constitutional convention 1852; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John M. Clayton and served from January 14, 1857, to March 3, 1859; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1858; resumed the practice of law until his death in Dover, Del., January 1, 1869; interment in the Old Methodist Cemetery.
    "Bates, Martin Waltham," Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 to Present,

    Martin Waltham Bates (Dickinson Chronicles)

    Martin W. Bates was born in Salisbury, Connecticut on February 24, 1786.  Not of a family of means, he attended common schools there and in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.  When his family could not afford to send him to college, he continued to educate himself.  He taught school for some years, moving about in Maryland and then Delaware.  He also studied medicine in Philadelphia before settling in Dover, Delaware, where he first pursued commerce unsuccessfully and then married into one of the most prestigious families in the area.  He then studied law in the office of Thomas Clayton.  He was admitted to the Dover bar and began a practice in the town in October 1822.

    This calling suited him and he prospered very quickly.  Bates was elected in 1826 to the state house as a Democrat.  He was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in the elections of 1832, 1834, and 1838.   He later was a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1852.  He was selected to complete the United Senate term of Whig John Middleton Clayton who had died suddenly in November 1856.  He served from January 1857 to March 1859.  He was defeated in the following election by Willard Saulsbury and returned to private practice.  Between 1838 and 1851 he served on the board of trustees of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where his adopted son had attended.

    Bates married Mary Hillyard of Dover and for a time the couple lived at "Woodburn," the Hillyard family house and, since 1966, the mansion of the governors of Delaware.  The couple adopted the orphaned Daniel Elzey Moore in 1829 and raised him as their son.  Mary Bates died in 1847 and while he suffered some disabilities later in his life - he always used crutches after a thigh fracture in 1857  and suffered later from cataracts - Bates continued his legal work.  On January 1, 1869, Martin Waltham Bates died in Dover and was buried in the Old Presbyterian Cemetery in the town.  He was eighty-two years old.
    John Osborne and James W. Gerencser, eds., “Martin Waltham Bates,” Dickinson Chronicles,
    How to Cite This Page: "Bates, Martin Waltham," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,