Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DAYTON, William Lewis, statesman, born in Baskingridge, New Jersey, 17 February 1807; died in Paris, France, 1 December 1864. He was graduated at Princeton in 1825, and received the degree of LL. D. from that college in 1857. He studied law in Litchfield, Connecticut, and was admitted to the bar in 1830, beginning his practice in Trenton, New Jersey In 1837 he was elected to the state council (as the senate was then called), being made chairman of the judiciary committee. He became associate judge of the Supreme Court of the state in 1838, and in 1842 was appointed to fill a vacancy in the U. S. Senate. His appointment was confirmed by the legislature in 1845, and he was also elected for the whole term. In the senate debates on the Oregon question, the tariff, annexation of Texas, and the Mexican war, he took the position of a free soil Whig. He was the friend and adviser of President Taylor, and opposed the fugitive slave bill, but advocated the admission of California as a free state, and the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. In 1856 the newly formed Republican Party nominated him for vice president. In March 1857, he was made attorney general for the state of New Jersey, and held that office until 1861, when President Lincoln appointed him minister to France, where he remained until his death.
His son, William Lewis, who was graduated at Princeton in 1858, and practiced law in Trenton, was appointed by President Arthur minister to the Netherlands.
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