Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Richard Bassett

                    Richard Bassett was born on April 17, 1745, at Bohemia Ferry in Devils County, Maryland.  His father was Michael Bassett, a part-time tavern owner and farmer, who deserted his family when Richard was young.  His mother was Judith Thompson Bassett, the great-granddaughter and an heiress of Augustine Herrman (the original owner of Bohemia Manor, a massive estate in Cecil County).  Her family reared Richard, and he eventually inherited wealth and plantation.
                    Richard was described as a "stout man of medium build" and "very fashionable and influential in society."  He married Ann Ennals in 1774, and the couple became parents of three children:  Richard Ennals, Ann (known as Nancy) and Mary.  After the death of his first wife, Richard married Betsy Garnett in 1796.  They were active in the Methodist Church, and they gave much of their time and attention to the church.  Bassett's daughter, Anne, married James A. Bayard, a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator; they were the ancestors of the branch of the Bayard family prominent in Delaware politics to this day.  His niece, Rachel McCleary, married Governor Joshua Clayton, a member of another family prominent in Delaware politics.
                    Bassett studied law in Maryland and was admitted to the bar in 1770.  He moved to Dover, Delaware, to start his law practice.  He concentrated on agricultural pursuits and religious and charitable concerns.  He quickly established himself there and "developed a reputation for hospitality and philanthropy."
                    Richard was not anxious to have a revolution; however, he became a politician when he was elected in 1774 to the local Boston Relief Committee.  He served on the 1776 Delaware Council of Safety and was in the convention when the Delaware Constitution of 1776 was drafted; it was adopted on September 20, 1776.  He was a conservative and was elected to the first Legislative Council of Delaware where he served for four sessions (1776/77 - 1779/80).  He later served in the House of Assembly (1780/81 and 1781/82) and then returned to the Legislative Council (1782/83 - 1784/85).  He ended his state legislative career in the 1786/87 session in the House of Assembly.  He was a Kent County representative in the Delaware General Assembly for all but one session during the time from independence to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
                    Richard Bassett contributed to the American Revolution when he mobilized the state's military.  He is credited by some sources with developing the plans for raising and staffing the 1st Delaware Regiment.  This regiment was commanded by John Haslet and known as the "Delaware Continentals" or "Delaware Blues".  They were the largest battalion in the army (800 men) even though they came from the smallest state.  In his book, 1776, David McCullough describes them as "turned out in handsome red trimmed blue coats, white waistcoats, buckskin breeches, white woolen stockings, and carrying fine, `lately imported English muskets.'"  Raised in early 1776, they went into service in July and August 1776.  Richard also assisted in recruiting members of the reserve militia that served in the "Flying Camp" of 1776 and the Dover Light Infantry, led by Thomas Rodney.
                    "When the British Army marched through northern New Castle County, on the way to the Battle of Brandywine and the capture of Philadelphia, Bassett `appears to have joined his friend Rodney in the field as a volunteer.'  Once the Delaware militia returned home after the British retired from the area, Bassett continued as a part-time soldier, assuming command of the Dover Light Horse, Kent County's militia cavalry unit."
                    Bassett was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and signed the Constitution, but he apparently did not input much.  He was however active in a convention to revise the Delaware Constitution of 1792 where he joined with John Dickinson to draft the revision.
                    After Richard retired from the United States Senate in 1793, he became the first Chief of Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in Delaware, the predecessor of the present Delaware Superior Court.  He was a member of the Federalist Party by this time and was elected to the office of Governor of Delaware in 1799.
                    Bassett was appointed by President John Adams on February 18, 1801 (his last day in office) as judge of the Third Circuit and was one of the "midnight judges".  He was confirmed by the US Senate on February 20, 1801, and was commissioned the same day.  His tenure ended on July 1, 1802, after a new Congress repealed the legislation.  Bassett never again held a public office. 
                    In addition to holding high political offices, Bassett was a "devout and energetic convert to Methodism" and devoted much of his attention and wealth to promoting Methodism.
                    Richard Bassett died on August 15, 1815, at Bohemia Manor in Cecil County, Maryland, and was buried there.  His remains were moved in 1865 to a Bassett and Bayard mausoleum in the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery at Wilmington, Delaware.
                    Bassett was an American lawyer and politician, a veteran of the American Revolution, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a member of the Federalist Party, a delegate to the Delaware General Assembly, Governor of Delaware, and a U.S. Senator from Delaware.  He is holds the Senate Rank of 1, as the most senior United States Senator during the First Congress of the United States.       

No comments:

Post a Comment