Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Frelinghuysen, Theodorus Jacobus

FRELINGHUYSEN, Theodorus Jacobus, clergyman, b. in West Friesland in 1691; d. in New Jersey in 1747. After receiving a thorough classical education he began the study of theology, was ordained to the ministry in the Reformed Dutch Church at the age of twenty-six, and was for about two years the pastor of a Church in his native land. A movement to establish a missionary of the Reformed Dutch Church in the new settlements on the Raritan River in New Jersey resulted in the choice of Mr. Frelinghuysen, who removed thither in 1720, and thus became the founder of the Frelinghuysen family in New Jersey. The field of his pastoral charge extended over the greater part of Somerset and Middlesex counties. He was an indefatigable worker, and remarkably successful in all his difficult undertakings. George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards speak of him as “one of the greatest divines of the American Church.” He was an early advocate for the establishment in America of an ecclesiastical judicatory possessing larger powers than had hitherto been granted by the church in Holland. As a member of the first convention of his Church held in New York, he gave efficient support to a measure that resulted in the independence of that Church in the New World. He is spoken of as a man of great fearlessness of spirit, of eloquence as a speaker, and of vigor as a writer. Mr. Frelinghuysen had five sons who were ordained to the ministry, and two daughters who married ministers. Three of his sermons, in the Dutch language, were published in New York as early as 1721, two others in 1729, and all these were translated into English and published in 1730. Ten sermons, in Dutch, were published in New York in 1733, and a second edition of the same in Holland, under approval and with the commendation of the theological faculty of the University of Groningen, who called them “The noble fruit brought from the New World to our doors.” Two sermons were published in Utrecht in 1738, four in Philadelphia in 1745. All these were translated into English by Rev. William Demarest, and published by the board of publication of the Reformed Dutch Church in 1856, with an introduction by Dr. Thomas De Witt, and a biographical sketch by the translator. — His second son, John, b. in Three Mile Run, New Jersey, in 1727; d. on Long Island, in September 1754, was sent to Holland to complete his academic course, and in 1750 was ordained to the ministry by the classis of Amsterdam. Soon afterward he returned to his native country, and entered on his duties as the successor of his father, fixing his residence at Somerville, N.J. In addition to his pastoral work, he undertook the education of young men for the ministry, and to his labors in this direction Queen's College, now Rutgers, is largely indebted for its establishment. While on a journey, in September 1754, he was suddenly taken sick and died. — John's only son, Frederick, lawyer, b. in Somerset County, New Jersey, 13 April 1753; d. 13 April 1804, was graduated at Princeton in 1770, entered on the study of the law, and was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty-one. When he had barely completed his twenty-third year he was chosen a member of the Provincial congress of New Jersey, where he was placed on the important committee of public safety. The following year (1776) he was chosen to the same body, which adopted a constitution and changed its title from “Provincial congress” to the “Convention of the state of New Jersey.” In 1778 he was elected, on joint ballot of the legislature, to represent New Jersey in the Continental congress he was strongly averse to accepting this position, declaring that the trust was too important for his years and abilities. In the following year he resigned it, but in 1782 and 1783 his name may be found on the rolls of the Continental congress as a representative from New Jersey. He was instrumental, it is said, in raising a corps of artillery, of which he became captain, and at the head of which, while still holding his seat in the Provincial congress, he took part in the battle of Trenton. There is a tradition that it was by a shot from his pistol that Colonel Rahl, the commander of the Hessian forces, was mortally wounded. Having been made colonel in the militia of his native County, he became actively engaged in the war. He was present in the skirmishes at Springfield and Elizabethtown, as well as at the battle of Monmouth Court House in June 1778. After the war had been brought to a close he received appointments to various offices in the County and state, and in 1793 was chosen to a seat in the senate of the United States, but, on account of family bereavements, resigned this position in 1796. In 1794, when General Washington undertook to put an end to the whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania, he summoned, among other forces employed for that purpose, the militia of New Jersey, placing Governor Howell at their head, and giving to Mr. Frelinghuysen a major general's command. In 1804 he fell seriously sick, and, on taking to his bed, predicted that the end was at hand, and that he would die on his ensuing birthday. The prediction was verified. — Gen. Frederick's eldest son, John, lawyer, b. near Millstone, Somerset County, N. J.. 21 March 1776; d. there, 10 April 1833, was graduated from Queen's College (now Rutgers) in 1792, and admitted to the bar in 1797. By reason of his great aversion to public speaking he figured but little in the courts, but as an office lawyer enjoyed an extensive practice. For many years he was a member of the state council, and for three consecutive terms, of five years each was surrogate of his County. Inheriting from his father, General Frederick Frelinghuysen, a great fondness for military life, he promptly offered his services at the beginning of the second war with Great Britain and was for many months encamped with a regiment of New Jersey militia, which he commanded, at Sandy Hook, with a view to preventing the enemy's vessels from passing up the bay to attack New York. At the close of the war he was made a brigadier general. He was a man of profound piety, and while on duty at Sandy Hook frequently conducted public services at the head of his regiment. So tenderly did he care for his soldiers that the sick among them were sheltered in his own tent, and made to eat at his own table. He freely used his own means to relieve their wants, even going so far as to embarrass his estate for this purpose. —

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Gen. Frederick's second son, Theodore, lawyer, b. in Franklin, Somerset County, New Jersey, 28 March 1787; d. in New Brunswick, New Jersey, 12 April 1861, was sent at the age of eleven to the grammar school connected with Queen's College (now Rutgers), where he remained two years, but,, on the resignation of the rector of the school, returned to his home at Millstone. Having no great disposition to apply himself to study, he persuaded his father to give him the privilege of remaining at home and becoming a farmer. But consent to this plan had been only partially obtained when his father was called away on public business. His stepmother, a wise and estimable woman, believing that this arrangement would not be a judicious one, packed young Theodore's trunk and sent him to the classical academy recently established at Baskingridge, New Jersey, by the Rev. Dr. Robert Findley. Here he completed his preparatory studies, and in 1802 was admitted to the junior class of the College of New Jersey, at Princeton, from which he was graduated with high honors in 1804. In the mean time, his father having died, his elder brother, John a lawyer, had taken charge of the homestead at Millstone. In the office of this brother he began the study of law, and, after being admitted to the bar, removed to Newark, New Jersey, where he married, and entered upon the practice of his profession, in which he soon attained eminence. In 1817 he was appointed attorney general by a legislature whose majority was opposed to him in politics. Twice afterward he was reappointed on the expiration of his term of office, and finally resigned it in 1829, having been elected a senator of the United States. Prior to this, how ever, he had declined the office of justice of the Supreme Court tendered to him in 1826. The first important matter on which he addressed the senate was the bill for the removal of the Indians beyond the Mississippi river. This speech availed nothing, however, except to bring its author prominently before the nation, and to give to him the title of the “Christian statesman.” He also took an active part in the discussion of the pension bill, the president's protest, the removal of the deposits from the U. S. bank, the compromise, and the tariff. His senatorial term expired in 1835 when he resumed his professional labors in Newark. In 1836 Newark was incorporated as a City. In the following year Mr. Frelinghuysen was elected its mayor, and in 1838 he was re-elected to the same position. In 1839 he was unanimously chosen chancellor of the University of New York, and while in the occupancy of this office was, in May 1844, nominated by the Whig national convention at Baltimore for the vice-presidency of the United States on the same ticket with Henry Clay. He continued in the discharge of his duties as chancellor of the University until 1850, when he accepted the presidency of Rutgers College, and in the same year was formally inducted into that office, continuing in it until the day of his death. Mr. Frelinghuysen was an earnest advocate of the claims of organized Christian benevolence, and it is said of him that no American layman was ever associated with so many great national organizations of religion and charity. He was president of no less than three of these during some period of their existence, while his name may be found on the lists of officers of all the rest with scarcely an exception. For sixteen years he was president of the American board of commissioners for foreign missions. From April, 1846, till his death he was president of the American Bible society; from 1842 till 1848, of the American tract society; from 1826 till near the close of his life, vice president of the American Sunday School union; and for many years vice president of the American colonization society. In the work of all these institutions he took an active part. His remains were buried in the grounds of the 1st Reformed Dutch Church in New Brunswick, N.J. See a memoir of him by Rev. Talbot W. Chambers, D.D. (1863). —

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Frederick Theodore, son of General Frederick's third son, Frederick, lawyer, b. in Millstone, New Jersey, 4 August 1817, d. in Newark, New Jersey, 20 May 1885, was but three years of age when his father died and was at once adopted by his uncle, Theodore. He was graduated at Rutgers in 1836, studied law with his uncle, Theodore, at Newark, and was admitted to the bar in 1839. In this year his uncle was called to the chancellorship of the University of New York, and the young attorney succeeded to his practice. He was chosen City attorney in 1849, and in the following year was also elected City counsel. Not long afterward he became the retained counsel of the New Jersey central railroad company, and of the Morris canal and banking company, and became generally known throughout the state. His name was mentioned as a candidate for attorney general of New Jersey in 1857, and in 1861 was appointed to that office. In this same year Mr Frelinghuysen was a member of the peace congress in Washington, where he was a conspicuous figure. On the expiration of his term as attorney general, in 1866, he was reappointed by Governor Marcus L. Ward, but in the same year was appointed by the governor to the U. S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William Wright. He took his seat in the senate in December 1866, and was elected in the winter of 1867 to fill the unexpired term of Mr. Wright, which would end on 4 March 1869. He now resigned the office of attorney general to occupy one that, it is said, had long been the summit of his ambition. At the expiration of his term in 1869 the majority of the legislature of New Jersey was opposed to him in politics, and, as a matter of course, his re-election was impossible. In 1870 President Grant nominated him as minister to England, and the senate promptly confirmed the nomination without the usual reference to the committee. Mr. Frelinghuysen, however, declined the appointment; why he did so was a question that was variously answered by political friends and foes. Years afterward it became known that it was at the request of his wife, who was unwilling to expose her children to the various influences to be encountered during a residence at a foreign court. On 25 July 1871, he was again elected U. S. senator for the full term of six years. During his service in the senate he was a member of the judiciary committee, and of those on the finance, naval affairs, claims, and railroads, and was chairman of the committee on agriculture. He was also a member of the committee on foreign relations, and acting chairman of the same during the negotiation of the Alabama claims by the joint high commission. When he came into the senate the civil war had ended, but he brought with him the feelings that had governed him throughout its progress, and took an active part in the work of restoring the Union. In the impeachment trial of President Johnson he voted for conviction. He was always prominent in the debates of the senate, and introduced into that body several measures of great importance. In the matter of the Washington treaty, in the French arms controversy, in the currency question, he was especially active. A bill was introduced by him to restore a gold currency, and so well sustained by argument that a measure similar to his own was subsequently adopted. A tariff for protection always received his support, and he left nothing undone to promote the industries of his own state. The civil rights bill, introduced by Charles Sumner, was personally entrusted to him by that gentleman, and was advocated by Mr. Frelinghuysen until it passed the senate. He introduced a bill against polygamy, and secured its passage in the senate; also a bill to return to Japan what is known as the Japanese indemnity fund, which also passed. The soundness of his argument in the Sue Murphy case was at first doubted, but it was afterward conceded that he was right in denying the claims of even loyal persons at the south for damages resulting from the war, insisting that they must suffer as did loyal persons at the north, and that the results of the war must rest where they fall. He succeeded in defeating this bill, and thus saved the country from innumerable claims of a similar character, which would have exhausted the national treasury. The trouble that arose in 1877 in regard to counting the electoral vote seems to have been anticipated by Mr. Frelinghuysen in the summer of the previous year, and, to avoid it, he introduced a bill referring the decision of any such controversy to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house, and the chief justice. The senate adjourned before the bill could be acted upon. When, in 1877, his anticipations were realized, he was one of the joint committee of the senate and house that reported a bill creating the electoral commission, and he was appointed a member of that commission. In 1877, a majority of the legislature of New Jersey being again Democratic, he was succeeded by John R. McPherson. On 12 December 1881, President Arthur invited Mr. Frelinghuysen to a seat in the cabinet as secretary of state, and the senate promptly confirmed this appointment. Peaceful and prosperous as was the administration of President Arthur, yet the labors of Mr. Frelinghuysen were nonetheless arduous, and, though always regarded as a man of great physical vigor, he retired from them thoroughly exhausted. Surrendering his seat to his successor in the cabinet on 4 March 1885, he went at once to his home in Newark, New Jersey, where, on his arrival, he found himself too ill to receive the citizens and friends who had filled his house to welcome him. For many weeks he lay in a lethargic condition, which continued until the end. Like all his ancestors, Mr. Frelinghuysen was the possessor of a strong religious sentiment. He was a close student of the Bible, and an active member of that branch of the Church in which so many of his forefathers had been bright and shining lights. He took a lively interest in educational matters, and in charitable and benevolent institutions. He was president of the American Bible society, and for thirty-four years a trustee of Rutgers College. His published writings are not numerous, nor did he give much time to literary work. Many of his speeches were never written until after they had been delivered; but he never spoke, as he once told the writer, without engraving on his memory, in their exact order, every word that he was about to utter; and so tenacious was that memory that, whenever he deemed it important to commit anything to writing, the manuscript was for him thereafter a useless paper.