Theodore Frelinghuysen (1787 - 1862)

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Birthplace: Franklin Township, Somerset, NJ, USA
Death: Died in New Brunswick, Middlesex, NJ, USA
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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About Theodore Frelinghuysen

Theodore Frelinghuysen (March 28, 1787 – April 12, 1862) was an American politician, serving as New Jersey Attorney General, United States Senator, and Mayor of Newark, New Jersey before running as a candidate for Vice President with Henry Clay on the Whig ticket in the election of 1844. Upon its incorporation in 1848, Frelinghuysen Township, New Jersey was named after him.


He was born in 1787 in Millstone, New Jersey, to Frederick Frelinghuysen. His siblings include: Catharine Frelinghuysen; John Frelinghuysen (1776–1833) the General who married Louisa Mercer and after her death married Elizabeth Mercereau Van Vechten; Maria Frelinghuysen (1778-?); and Frederick Frelinghuysen (1788-1820) the lawyer who married Jane Dumont. His great-grandfather, Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen, was a minister and theologian of the Dutch Reformed Church, influential in the founding of Queen's College, now Rutgers University, and one of four key leaders of the First Great Awakening in Colonial America. Theodore was the uncle of Frederick T. Frelinghuysen and great-great-grandfather of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who represents New Jersey's 11th congressional district, is a descendant.

Frelinghuysen married Charlotte Mercer (c. 1790-1854) in 1809. They had no children together, but when Theodore's brother, Frederick Frelinghuysen (1788-1820) died, Theodore adopted his son, Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (1817–1885), who would later become Secretary of State. Theodore Frelinghuysen remarried in 1857 to Harriet Pumpelly.

He graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1804 and studied law under his brother John Frelinghuysen, and later, Richard Stockton. He was admitted to the bar as an attorney in 1808 and as a counselor in 1811, and set up a law practice in Newark during this time period.

Political Office

He became Attorney General of New Jersey in 1817, turned down an appointment to the New Jersey Supreme Court and became a United States Senator in 1829, serving in that capacity until 1835. He was Mayor of Newark, New Jersey from 1837 until 1838. He was a Whig vice-presidential candidate in 1844. He was the second President of New York University between 1839 and 1850 and seventh President of Rutgers College between 1850 and 1862.

As a Senator, he led the opposition to the Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830. His six-hour speech against the Removal Act was delivered over the course of three days, and warned of the dire consequences of the policy:

Let us beware how, by oppressive encroachments upon the sacred privileges of our Indian neighbors, we minister to the agonies of future remorse.

Frelinghuysen was chided for mixing his evangelical Christianity with politics, and the Removal Act was passed.

He was President of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (1841-c1857), President of the American Bible Society (1846–1862), President of the American Tract Society (1842–1846), Vice President of the American Sunday School Union (1826–1861), and Vice President of the American Colonization Society. He believed in temperance and actively opposed slavery. His moniker was the "Christian Statesman."

He died in New Brunswick, New Jersey on April 12, 1862 and he was buried there at the First Reformed Church Cemetery.

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Theodore Frelinghuysen, U.S. Senator's Timeline

March 28, 1787
Franklin Township, Somerset, NJ, USA
April 12, 1862
Age 75
New Brunswick, Middlesex, NJ, USA