CLAYTON, John Middleton (1796-1856)

CLAYTON, JOHN MIDDLETON, (nephew of Joshua Clayton, cousin of Thomas Clayton, and great-granduncle of C. Douglass Buck), a Senator from Delaware; born in Dagsboro, Sussex County, Del., July 24, 1796; pursued preparatory studies at academies in Berlin, Md., and Milford, Del., and graduated from Yale College in 1815; studied law at the Litchfield Law School; admitted to the bar in 1819 and commenced practice in Dover; member, State house of representatives 1824; secretary of State of Delaware 1826-1828; elected as an Anti-Jacksonian to the United States Senate in 1829; reelected in 1835 and served from March 4, 1829, until December 29, 1836, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on the Judiciary (Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses); chief justice of Delaware 1837-1839; elected as a Whig to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1845, until February 23, 1849, when he resigned to accept a Cabinet position; Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President Zachary Taylor 1849-1850; while Secretary of State negotiated the Clayton-Bulwer treaty with Great Britain; again elected as a Whig (later Opposition Party) to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1853, until his death in Dover, Del., November 9, 1856; interment in Presbyterian Cemetery.

Hall of Records
Dover, DE
Papers: 1789-1796. .75 cubic foot. Records of the executive branch during Clayton's terms as governor, also portraits.

Hagley Museum and Library
Greenville, DE
Papers: 1825-1856. 86 items. Correspondence, including material on French spoliation claims, photographs, and portraits.
Additional Papers: Items in the William C. Spruance collection, 1679-1938; Eleuthera Bradford du Pont collection, 1799-1834; Henry du Pont papers, 1822-1899; Samuel Francis du Pont papers, 1812-1865; and Pierre S. du Pont collection, 1438-1954.

Harvard University
Houghton Library
Cambridge, MA
Papers: Official dispatches to Clayton in the Abbott Lawrence papers, 1837-1852 (bulk 1849-1852).

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1798-1868 (bulk 1849-1850). 3 linear feet. Correspondence (1798-1868), memoirs (no date), clippings (ca. 1847-1856), and photograph. Topics include Clayton-Bulwer treaty, Whig politics, and Pea Patch Island controversy between Delaware and New Jersey. Finding aid.

New Jersey Historical Society
Newark, NJ
Papers: Correspondence in Kinney family papers, 1783-1900.

New-York Historical Society
New York, NY
Papers: 22 letters to Clayton in the John Stevenson Maxwell papers, 1830-1863.

Pierpont Morgan Library
New York, NY
Papers: 1849. 1 item.

Rosenbach Museum and Library
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: July 28, 1849. 1 letter. From Abraham Lincoln.

University of Delaware Library
Newark, DE
Papers: 1830, 1854. 2 letters.

University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1842-1856. 148 items. Autograph letters, chiefly to Robert Montgomery Bird, writer and editor.

University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library
Rochester, NY
Papers: 8 letters by and 6 to Clayton (1849-1856) in various collections. Finding aid.

Virginia Historical Society
Richmond, VA
Papers: Miscellaneous items. Finding aid.

Yale University Libraries
Manuscripts and Archives
New Haven, CT
Papers: In the John McLean papers, 1817-1861, on 18 microfilm reels of originals in the Library of Congress; and Wickham family papers, 1785-1958.

  • Comegys, Joseph Parsons. Memoir of John M. Clayton. Wilmington: Historical Society of Delaware, 1882.
  • U.S. Congress. Obituary Addresses on the Occasion of the Death of the Hon. John M. Clayton, of Delaware, in the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States. 34th Cong., 3d sess., 1856-1857. Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson, 1857.
  • Wire, Richard Arden. "The Early Life of John M. Clayton.'' Delaware History 15 (October 1972): 104-17.
  • ___. "John M. Clayton and the Rise of the Anti-Jackson Party in Delaware, 1824-1828.'' Delaware History 15 (October 1973): 256-68.
  • ___. "John M. Clayton and the Search for Order: A Study in Whig Politics and Diplomacy.'' Ph.D. dissertation, University of Maryland, 1971.
  • ___. "John M. Clayton and Whig Politics During the Second Jackson Administration.'' Delaware History 18 (Spring-Summer 1978): 1-16.
  • ___. "Young Senator Clayton and the Early Jackson Years.''Delaware History 17 (Fall-Winter 1976): 104-26.