John M. Clayton

John Clayton
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
March 4, 1853 – November 9, 1856
Preceded byPresley Spruance
Succeeded byJoseph P. Comegys
In office
March 4, 1845 – February 23, 1849
Preceded byRichard H. Bayard
Succeeded byJohn Wales
In office
March 4, 1829 – December 29, 1836
Preceded byHenry M. Ridgely
Succeeded byThomas Clayton
18th United States Secretary of State
In office
March 8, 1849 – July 22, 1850
PresidentZachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Preceded byJames Buchanan
Succeeded byDaniel Webster
Personal details
John Middleton Clayton

(1796-07-24)July 24, 1796
Dagsboro, Delaware, U.S.
DiedNovember 9, 1856(1856-11-09) (aged 60)
Dover, Delaware, U.S.
Political partyNational Republican (Before 1834)
Whig (1824–1854)
American (1854–1856)
Spouse(s)Sally Fisher
EducationYale University (BA)
Litchfield Law School

John Middleton Clayton (July 24, 1796 – November 9, 1856) was an American lawyer and politician from Delaware. He was a member of the Whig Party who served in the Delaware General Assembly, and as U.S. Senator from Delaware and U.S. Secretary of State.

Early life and family

Born in Dagsboro, Delaware, son of Sarah (née Middleton) and James Clayton. His uncle, Dr. Joshua Clayton, was a former Governor of Delaware and his cousin, Thomas Clayton, was a prominent lawyer, U.S. Senator, and jurist. John M. Clayton studied at Berlin, Maryland and Milford, Delaware when his parents moved there. His boyhood home, known as the Parson Thorne Mansion, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.[1][2] He graduated from Yale University in 1815, studied law at the Litchfield Law School, and in 1819 began the practice of law in Dover, Delaware.

About this time his father died and Clayton became the sole supporter of his immediate family, weekly walking the distance from Dover to Milford to see to their needs.[citation needed]

He married to Sally Ann Fisher in 1822. She was the granddaughter of former Governor George Truitt.[citation needed] They had two sons, James and Charles, but she died two weeks after the birth of Charles. Clayton never remarried and raised the two boys himself.

In 1844, Clayton cultivated a tract of land near New Castle, Delaware which he called Buena Vista.[3] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.[2] Here he built a mansion and made one of the most fruitful estates in that region. Both of his sons died while in their 20s, shortly before the death of their father.