Frederick T. Frelinghuysen

Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (August 4, 1817  May 20, 1885)[1] was an American lawyer and politician from New Jersey who served as a U.S. Senator and later as United States Secretary of State under President Chester A. Arthur.[2]

Frederick T. Frelinghuysen
29th United States Secretary of State
In office
December 19, 1881  March 6, 1885
PresidentChester A. Arthur
Preceded byJames G. Blaine
Succeeded byThomas F. Bayard
United States Senator
from New Jersey
In office
March 4, 1871  March 3, 1877
Preceded byAlexander G. Cattell
Succeeded byJohn R. McPherson
In office
November 12, 1866  March 3, 1869
Preceded byWilliam Wright
Succeeded byJohn P. Stockton
22nd Attorney General of New Jersey
In office
GovernorCharles Smith Olden
Joel Parker
Marcus Lawrence Ward
Preceded byWilliam L. Dayton
Succeeded byGeorge M. Robeson
Personal details
Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen

(1817-08-04)August 4, 1817
Millstone, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedMay 20, 1885(1885-05-20) (aged 67)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyWhig (Before 1860)
Republican (1860–death)
Matilda Griswold
(m. 1842)
Children6, including Frederick, George
RelativesFrelinghuysen family
EducationRutgers University, New Brunswick (BA)
Statue in Newark

Early life and education

Frelinghuysen was born in Millstone, New Jersey, to Frederick Frelinghuysen (1788–1820) and Mary Dumont. His father died when he was just three years old, and he was adopted by his uncle,[3] Theodore Frelinghuysen (1787–1862).

His grandfather, Frederick Frelinghuysen (1753–1804), was an eminent lawyer, one of the framers of the first New Jersey Constitution, a soldier in the American Revolutionary War, a member (1778–1779 and 1782–1783) of the Continental Congress from New Jersey, and from 1793 to 1796 a member of the United States Senate.[3]

His uncle, Theodore Frelinghuysen, was Attorney General of New Jersey from 1817 to 1829, was a U.S. Senator from New Jersey from 1829 to 1835, was the Whig candidate for Vice President of the United States on the Henry Clay ticket in the 1844 Presidential election, and was Chancellor of New York University from 1839 until 1850 and president of Rutgers College from 1850 to 1862.[3]

Frelinghuysen graduated from Rutgers College in 1836, and studied law in Newark with his uncle, to whose practice he succeeded in 1839, after he was admitted to the bar.[2][3]


Following his admission to the bar, he became attorney for the Central Railroad of New Jersey, the Morris Canal and Banking Company and other corporations.[2]

Political career

According to The New York Times, Frelinghuysen was a member of the Whig Party until joining the Republican Party upon its inception.[4] He was also crucial in establishing New Jersey's state GOP.[5]

During the American Civil War, Frelinghuysen was active in public office rather than joining the Union Army.[6] He was a delegate in 1861 to the Peace Congress, and appointed Attorney General of New Jersey by Governor Charles S. Olden that year to serve in the post until 1867. Frelinghuysen was encouraged by some to run for governor in 1862, though declined.[7]

Frelinghuysen was a delegate to the 1860 Republican National Convention from New Jersey and from 1861 to 1867 was Attorney General of New Jersey. He was a delegate to the Peace conference of 1861 in Washington, and in 1866 was appointed by the Governor of New Jersey, as a Republican, to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. In the winter of 1867, he was elected to fill the unexpired term, but a Democratic majority in the New Jersey Legislature prevented his re-election in 1869.[2][3]

In 1870, he was nominated by President Ulysses S. Grant, and confirmed by the Senate, as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom to succeed John Lothrop Motley, but declined the mission. From 1871 to 1877 he was again a member of the United States Senate, in which he was prominent in debate and in committee work, and was chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs during the Alabama Claims negotiations.[2][3]

He was a strong opponent of the Reconstruction measures of President Andrew Johnson, for whose conviction he voted for in Johnson's impeachment trial.[8] Frelinghuysen supported the Radical Republicans' program for Reconstruction that emphasized a harsh treatment of former Confederates.[9] He later allied with the GOP Stalwart faction whose members tended to utilize corruption/patronage effectively, though was considered to have a clean record.[10]

He was a member of the joint committee which drew up and reported (1877) the Electoral Commission Bill, and subsequently served as a member of the Electoral Commission that decided the 1876 Presidential election.[3] As a Republican, he voted with the eight-member majority on all counts.[2]

U.S. Secretary of State

On December 12, 1881, he was appointed United States Secretary of State by President Chester A. Arthur to succeed James G. Blaine, and served until the inauguration of President Grover Cleveland in 1885.[11]

Upon taking the post, Frelinghuysen was tasked with resolving a number of consequences resulted by the actions of his predecessor Blaine.[10] Taking a pacifistic and patient approach,[5][9] he shared the vision held by William H. Seward of the United States dominating the global market in setting an example for other nations to follow, he withdrew the U.S. from the War of the Pacific between Chile and Peru in which his predecessor unsuccessfully backed the Peruvians.[10][12]

Frelinghuysen's other actions included canceling a scheduled Pan-American conference against President Arthur's wishes that Blaine had originally planned.[9][10][12] In addition, he negotiated a treaty change with Hawaii that allowed for a naval base for the U.S. in Pearl Harbor,[5] which was later known for being bombed by Japan in World War II.

In contrast to his predecessors in the position of U.S. Secretary of State, Frelinghuysen proved unable to urge Great Britain to modify the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty terms in a re-negotiation attempt,[12] and instead pushed through a treaty with Nicaragua that would permit the construction of a canal in the country under joint ownership.[9] However, it was withdrawn later during the presidency of Grover Cleveland by the U.S. Senate, which did not ratify it.[12] Other efforts rejected by Congress included proposals to negotiate reciprocity Spain, Mexico, and Santo Dominigo, in addition to opening an international consortium between the Congo, U.S. and other countries.[10]

Frelinghuysen served in the post until the end of President Arthur's term, effectively resigning in early March 1885.[12]

After his term as Secretary of State Frelinghuysen returned to his home in Newark where he died less than three months after retiring.[13]


In 1917, Frelinghuysen University in Washington D.C. was named in honor of his service to African American causes.[14]

Marriage and children

On January 25, 1842, Frelinghuysen married Matilda Elizabeth Griswold (1817–1889).[15] She was the daughter of George Griswold,[16] a merchant in New York City who "made an immense fortune in the time of the clipper trade with China."[15] Together, they were the parents of three daughters and three sons, including:[16]

  • Matilda Griswold Frelinghuysen (1846–1926),[17] who married Henry Winthrop Gray (1840–1906),[18] a prominent merchant[16] in 1889.[19]
  • Charlotte Louisa "Lucy" Frelinghuysen (1847–1930),[20][16]
  • Frederick Frelinghuysen (1848–1924),[21] who married Estelle B. Kinney, daughter of Thomas T. Kinney, in 1902.[22]
  • George Griswold Frelinghuysen (1851–1936),[23] who married Sara Linen Ballantine, granddaughter of Peter Ballantine, in 1881.[24]
  • Sarah Helen Frelinghuysen (1856–1939),[25] who first married Judge John J. Davis (1851–1902), the grandson of Massachusetts governor John Davis. After his death, she married Brig. Gen. Charles Laurie McCawley (1865–1935), the son of Charles G. McCawley, the 8th Commandant of the Marine Corps, in 1906.[25]
  • Theodore Frelinghuysen (1860–1928),[26] who married Alice Dudley Coats (1861–1889) in 1885.[27] After her death, he married Elizabeth Mary "Lily" (née Thompson) Cannon, a daughter of William G. Thompson and descendant of Elijah Brush, both Mayors of Detroit, and the widow of Henry Lee Grand Cannon.[26]

Frelinghuysen died at Newark on May 20, 1885, aged 67.[1] He was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Newark.[28][29][30] His widow died a few years later in February 1889.[15]


Through his eldest son Frederick, he was the grandfather of George Griswold Frelinghuysen II, who married Anne de Smolianinof; Estelle C. "Suzy" Frelinghuysen, who married fellow painter George Lovett Kingsland Morris; Frederick Frelinghuysen; Thomas Frelinghuysen; and Theodore Frelinghuysen.[31][32]

Through his daughter Sarah and granddaughter Mathilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen (née Davis) Lodge (1876–1960), who married George Cabot Lodge, he was the great-grandfather of Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. (1902–1985), the diplomat and United States Senator from Massachusetts,[33][34] and John Davis Lodge (1903–1985), also a diplomat, U.S. Representative, and Governor of Connecticut.[35]


  1. "Death of Mr. Frelinghuysen.; the Career of President Arthur's Secretary of State". The New York Times. 21 May 1885. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  2. "FRELINGHUYSEN, Frederick Theodore - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  3. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Frelinghuysen, Frederick Theodore". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 96.
  4. May 21, 1885. Death of Mr. Frelinghuysen. The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  5. July 20, 1998. Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen. Britannica. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  6. Wildstein, David (November 11, 2021). Veterans Day: Frelinghuysen and Kean families. New Jersey Globe. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  7. August 4, 1862. Personal. The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  8. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Frederick W. Ricord (1900). "Frelinghuysen, Theodorus Jacobus" . In Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J. (eds.). Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. p. 544.
  9. Frelinghuysen, Frederick Theodore. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  10. Weisberger, Bernard A. James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  11. Sayles, Stephen. The Romero-Frelinghuysen Convention: A Milestone in Border Relations. New Mexico Historical Review 51 (October 1976): 295-311.
  12. Biographies of the Secretaries of State: Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (1817–1885). Office of the Historian. Retrieved November 14, 2021.
  13. Rollins, John William. Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen, 1817-1885: The Politics and Diplomacy of Stewardship. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 1974
  14. "Name University for Frelinghuysen". The Courier-News. 1 March 1917. p. 3. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  15. "MRS. F. T. FRELINGHUYSEN". The New York Times. 4 February 1889. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  16. Lee, Francis Bazley (1910). Genealogical and Memorial History of the State of New Jersey ... Lewis historical Publishing Company. p. 14. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  17. "MRS. M.G.F. GRAY OF OLD FAMILY DIES; Daughter of F. T. Frelinghuysen, Once Secretary of State-Funeral Today". The New York Times. 25 March 1926. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  18. "DIED. Gray". The New York Times. 15 October 1906. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  19. "In Bonds of Matrimony; Marriage of Mr. Gray and Miss. Frelinghuysen. a Quiet Ceremony at the Homestead of the Bride's Family". The New York Times. 17 May 1889. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  20. "Charlotte Frelinghuysen". The New York Times. 19 July 1930. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  21. "Frederick Frelinghuysen. Ex-President of Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company Dies". New York Times. January 2, 1924. Retrieved May 30, 2007. Frelinghuysen was President of the Benefit Life Insurance Company in Newark for ... to become President of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. ...
  22. "Frederick Frelinghuysen's Engagement". The New York Times. 7 July 1902. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  23. "G.G. FRELINGHUYSEN DIES AT AGE OF 84; Son of Arthur's Secretary Of State Was Lawyer Here for Half century. KIN OF NOTED GENERAL Parent, Great-Uncle, Cousin All Served New Jersey in the United States Senate" (PDF). The New York Times. April 22, 1936. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  24. "G.G. Frelinghuysen Dies. Son of Arthur's Secretary Of State Was Lawyer". New York Times. April 22, 1936.
  25. "MRS. S.H. M'CAWLEY, WASHINGTON HOSTESS; Grandmother of Senator Lodge Dies in Home at Capital". The New York Times. 20 February 1939. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  26. "THEO. FRELINGHUYSEN DIES IN HIS 68TH YEAR; Member of Old New Jersey Family Was Son of Secretary of State in Arthur Cabinet". The New York Times. January 31, 1928. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  27. "Married at Newport.; Miss Coats and Mr. Frelinghuysen". The New York Times. 26 August 1885. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  28. American National Biography
  29. Dictionary of American Biography
  30. "Mr. Frelinghuysen Buried.; Many Distinguished Persons Honor the Memory of the Ex-Secretary". The New York Times. 24 May 1885. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  31. "G.G. Frelinghuysen Weds Russian Girl. Anne de Smolianinoff, Daughter of Former Grand Master of Imperial Court, His Bride". New York Times. December 14, 1934. Retrieved May 30, 2007. Daughter of Former Grand Master of Imperial Court, His Bride. Mrs. Vladimir N. de Smolianinof of West Seventy-fifth Street announced yesterday the ...
  32. "Obtains Decree in Reno; Former Anne de Smolianinof Divorces G. G. Frelinghuysen". The New York Times. June 7, 1938. Retrieved May 30, 2007. Mrs. Anne de Smolianinoff Frelinghuysen obtained a divorce here today from George Griswold Frelinghuysen of Princeton, New Jersey, on grounds of cruelty. They were married on December 12, 1934, in Los Angeles.
  33. "Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Photographs II". The Massachusetts Historical Society. MHS. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  34. Jackson, Kenneth T. (1998). The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives: 1981-1985. Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 9780684804927. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  35. "LODGE, John Davis, (1903–1985)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved July 29, 2011.


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