Frederick T. Frelinghuysen

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Frederick Theodore “F. T.” Frelinghuysen
Frederick T. Frelinghuysen LOC portrait.png
29th United States Secretary of State
From: December 19, 1881 – March 6, 1885
President Chester A. Arthur (1881–85)
Grover Cleveland (1885)
Predecessor James G. Blaine
Successor Thomas F. Bayard
Former U.S. Senator from New Jersey
From: March 4, 1871 – March 3, 1877
Predecessor Alexander G. Cattell
Successor John R. McPherson
Former U.S. Senator from New Jersey
From: November 12, 1866 – March 3, 1869
Predecessor William Wright
Successor John P. Stockton
Former Attorney General of New Jersey
From: 1861–1867
Predecessor William L. Dayton
Successor George M. Robeson
Party Whig (before 1854}
Republican (since 1854)
Spouse(s) Matilda Griswold

Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (August 4, 1817 – May 20, 1885), also known as F. T. Frelinghuysen,[1][2] was a New Jersey Republican and member of the party's Stalwart[3][4] faction who served as the state's U.S. senator during Reconstruction, later appointed United States Secretary of State under the presidency of Chester Arthur. He previously was the attorney general of New Jersey during the 1860s.


Frelinghuysen was born in Millstone, New Jersey on August 4, 1817 to Frederick Frelinghuysen, II and the former Jane DuMont as a scion of an active New Jersey political family.[5] Following the death of his father when he was three years old, Frelinghuysen was sent to live with his uncle Theodore Frelinghuysen, who adopted him.

After completing Rutgers College in 1836, Frelinghuysen proceeded to study law and was admitted to the state bar three years later. He then practiced law for a period of time in Newark.

Political career

Frelinghuysen in 1861.

According to The New York Times, Frelinghuysen was a member of the Whig Party until joining the Republican Party upon its inception.[3] He was also crucial in establishing New Jersey's state GOP.[6]

During the Civil War, Frelinghuysen was active in public office rather than joining the Union Army.[5] He was a delegate in 1861 to the Peace Congress, and appointed Attorney General of New Jersey by Governor Charles S. Olden that year to serve in the post until 1867. Frelinghuysen was encouraged by some to run for governor in 1862, though declined.[7]

Along with fellow speakers George M. Robeson and William W. Phelps, Frelinghuysen gave an address at the New Jersey State Republican Convention in mid-August 1880.[8]

U.S. Senate, 1866–69

Following an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 1864–65 against Democrat John P. Stockton,[9] Frelinghuysen in 1866 was appointed by Gov. Marcus L. Ward to become the state's Class I U.S. senator,[3] a decision approved by the state legislature in a special election.[10]

He was ousted in the following general election by Stockton upon a Democrat takeover of the legislature.[3][11]

Presidential nomination by Grant

In July 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Frelinghuysen to become the U.S. Minister to England, succeeding the recently recalled John L. Motley.[3] His senatorial colleagues Charles Sumner and Henry Wilson of Massachusetts objected on the grounds that it was "an indignity to Mr. Motley," though the chamber proceeded with the nomination by a 40–3 vote.[12]

However, Frelinghuysen ultimately declined taking the post.[3]

F. T. Frelinghuysen Political Graveyard picture.jpg

U.S. Senate, 1871–77

Stalwart Republicans



Other members:

Related topics:

Frelinghuysen returned to the Senate from the state's Class III seat in 1871.[13]

During his tenure, Frelinghuysen supported the Radical Republicans' program for Reconstruction that emphasized a harsh treatment of former Confederates.[14] He later allied with the GOP Stalwart faction whose members tended to utilize corruption/patronage effectively, though was considered to have a clean record.[4]

In 1876, Frelinghuysen was appointed to a special committee tasked with examining the presidential election that year between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden, where Hayes won the electoral vote though lost the popular vote.[3] His selection substituted that of Stalwart leader Roscoe Conkling, whose initial proposed appointment for the committee drew fierce opposition. The group ultimately established the Compromise of 1877 which ended Reconstruction and marked the return of the South into the hands of Jim Crow Democrats.

Sen. Frelinghuysen retired from Congress in 1877 and was succeeded by John R. McPherson.[3]

Secretary of State

In 1881, Frelinghuysen was appointed United States Secretary of State, replacing Half-Breed leader James Gillespie Blaine as an active Stalwart.[4] To appease both GOP factions, President Arthur also appointed Half-Breed William E. Chandler to the Navy Department.

Upon taking the post, Frelinghuysen was tasked with resolving a number of consequences resulted by the actions of his predecessor Blaine.[4] Taking a pacifistic and patient approach,[6][14] he shared the vision held by William H. Seward of the United States dominating the global market in setting an example for other nations to follow, he withdrew the U.S. from the War of the Pacific between Chile and Peru in which his predecessor unsuccessfully backed the Peruvians.[4][15]

Frelinghuysen's other actions included canceling a scheduled Pan-American conference against President Arthur's wishes that Blaine had originally planned.[4][14][15] In addition, he negotiated a treaty change with Hawaii that allowed for a naval base for the U.S. in Pearl Harbor,[6] which was later known for being bombed by Japan in World War II.

In contrast to his predecessors in the position of U.S. Secretary of State, Frelinghuysen proved unable to urge Great Britain to modify the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty terms in a re-negotiation attempt,[15] and instead pushed through a treaty with Nicaragua that would permit the construction of a canal in the country under joint ownership.[14] However, it was withdrawn later during the presidency of Grover Cleveland by the U.S. Senate, which did not ratify it.[15] Other efforts rejected by Congress included proposals to negotiate reciprocity Spain, Mexico, and Santo Dominigo, in addition to opening an international consortium between the Congo, U.S. and other countries.[4]

Frelinghuysen served in the post until the end of President Arthur's term, effectively resigning in early March 1885.[15]

Death and burial

Frederick "F. T." Frelinghuysen LOC portrait.png

Following a serious illness,[16] Frelinghuysen died at his home in Newark on May 20, 1885, aged sixty-seven.[3] The funeral took place at the city's North Reformed Church three days later,[17] which was attended by a number of high-ranking politicians. According to The New York Times:[17]

The streets of Newark will be no quieter this Sunday morning than they were yesterday. Business places and public buildings were closed, and flags at half-mast fluttered from many windows and house tops. For hours before the funeral service the street in front of the church was packed with a crowd of the curious, and as soon as the doors were opened all of the unreserved seats were taken. The interior of the church was heavily draped in black, and the pulpit was nearly hidden in flowers.

The New York Times, May 24, 1885

He is interred at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Newark.[17]


  1. F.T. Frelinghuysen. Library of Congress. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  2. Political Graveyard (May 18, 2013). Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (1817-1885). Flickr. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 May 21, 1885. Death of Mr. Frelinghuysen. The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Weisberger, Bernard A. James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wildstein, David (November 11, 2021). Veterans Day: Frelinghuysen and Kean families. New Jersey Globe. Retrieved November 14, 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 July 20, 1998. Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen. Britannica. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  7. August 4, 1862. Personal. The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  8. August 17, 1880. The Campaign in New-Jersey. The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  9. March 16, 1865. The New-Jersey Legislature-The Anti-Slavery Amendment John P. Stockton Elected United States Senator. The New York Times. Archived version available here. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  10. NJ US Senate - Special Election Race - Nov 14, 1866. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  11. January 6, 1869. Election of John P. Stockton United States Senator from New-Jersey. The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  13. NJ US Senate Race - Jan 01, 1871. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Frelinghuysen, Frederick Theodore. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Biographies of the Secretaries of State: Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (1817–1885). Office of the Historian. Retrieved November 14, 2021.
  16. April 5, 1885. Mr. Frelinghuysen Dying. The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 May 24, 1885. Mr. Frelinghuysen Buried. The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2021.

External links