About Henry Moore Ridgely
Henry Moore Ridgely was born in Dover, Delaware on August 6, 1779. His father, Charles, was a doctor and Delaware colonial and state legislator who had been a delegate to the first state constitutional convention in 1776. His mother, Ann Moore, his father's second wife, kept a large and strict household that included her four step-children along with her own five. Ridgely studied at New Ark Academy, in Newark, Delaware in 1794 and left for Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania a year later. While at the College he was active in the then fledgling Union Philosophical Society. He graduated in 1797 and studied law, first in Lancaster under Charles Smith and then with his elder step-brother Nicholas in Dover. He was admitted to the Delaware bar in 1802. In April, 1803, he was involved in a duel that nearly resulted in his death. He was a messenger for a doctor friend named Barratt who another man, William Shields of New Castle, had insulted. Ridgely, acting as second, brought the message to duel, but Shields refused and in turn challenged Ridgely to a duel. Ridgely accepted and was severely injured with an arm wound. After his recovery, he became president of Farmer's Bank in Dover in 1807. In 1811, he was elected as a Federalist to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was reelected in 1813 and also served as Secretary of State of Delaware from 1817 to 1824. He became a U.S. Senator in 1827 after he filled the seat left vacant upon the death of Nicholas Van Dyke. After becoming a voice for protectionism in the Senate, he retired at the end of that term and returned to farming at Linden Farm in 1832, maintaining only his bank presidency. Ridgely married Sally Banning in November 1803. They had seven children, Charles George, Elizabeth, Ann, Henry, Nicholas, George, Willamina Moore, and Edward, who was to become a Civil War Secretary of State for Delaware. In 1837, Sally died of tuberculosis. Henry married his second wife, Sally Comegys, daughter of his friend Governor Cornelius Parsons Comergys in 1841. In March 1847, he suffered a paralytic stroke. Henry Moore Ridgely died on his sixty-eighth birthday on August 6, 1847.
Henry Moore Ridgely (August 6, 1779 - August 6, 1847) was an American lawyer and politician from Dover, in Kent County, Delaware. He was a member of the Federalist Party, and later the Democratic Party, who served as U.S. Representative from Delaware and as U.S. Senator from Delaware.
Early life and family
Ridgely was born in Dover, Delaware, the son of Dr. Charles and Ann Moore Ridgely. He attended Dickinson College and studied law with Charles Smith of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Admitted to the Delaware Bar in 1802, he began a practice in Dover. Sally Banning of Dover was his first wife, and they had fifteen children, including eight who lived to adulthood: Charles George, Elizabeth, Ann, Henry, Nicholas, Eugene, Williamina and Edward. In 1842, Ridgely married Sarah Ann Comegys, the daughter of Cornelius P. Comegys, the former Governor of Delaware. They had no children. They were all members of Christ Episcopal Church. Ridgely was instrumental in the organization of the Farmer’s Bank and served as its president in Dover for forty years.
Professional and political career
Ridgely was a Federalist and began his political career in the State House, serving in three sessions from 1808 through 1810. He was a Kent County Levy Court Commissioner as well. Subsequently, he was elected to the 12th and 13th United State House from required until March 4, 1811 until March 3, 1815. There he joined the general Federalist opposition to the War of 1812. Much of his correspondence from these days is published in A Calendar of Ridgely Family Letters, 1742-1899.
Not seeking reelection in 1814, he returned to Dover and resumed the practice of law. He served as the Secretary of State of Delaware from 1817 until 1827 and also was elected to the State House for the 1816, 1822, and 1827 sessions. In 1827, he was elected to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Nicholas Van Dyke and served out his term from January 12, 1827 until March 3, 1829. He was not reelected to the next Congress because, in the great political realignment then underway, Ridgely had become a supporter of President Andrew Jackson, in opposition to the majority in the Delaware General Assembly. He was an opponent of slavery and is said to have bought slaves, only to release them.
Death and legacy
Ridgely died at Dover and is buried there in the Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery. He was considered a man of superior judgment with a considerable talent for business.