Willard Saulsbury Jr.

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Willard Saulsbury
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
December 14, 1916 – March 3, 1919
Preceded byJames Paul Clarke
Succeeded byAlbert B. Cummins
Secretary of the Senate Democratic Caucus
In office
March 4, 1913 – December 14, 1916
LeaderJohn W. Kern
Preceded byWilliam E. Chilton
Succeeded byKey Pittman (Acting)
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
March 4, 1913 – March 3, 1919
Preceded byHarry A. Richardson
Succeeded byL. Heisler Ball
Personal details
Born(1861-04-17)April 17, 1861
Georgetown, Delaware, U.S.
DiedFebruary 20, 1927(1927-02-20) (aged 65)
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseMay Lammot du Pont
RelationsGove Saulsbury (uncle)
Eli Saulsbury (uncle)
EducationUniversity of Virginia, Charlottesville

Willard Saulsbury Jr. (April 17, 1861 – February 20, 1927) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party who served as U.S. Senator from Delaware and President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate.

Early life and family[edit]

Saulsbury was born in Georgetown, Delaware, son of Willard Saulsbury, Sr., and nephew of Gove Saulsbury and Eli Saulsbury. He married May Lammot du Pont, the granddaughter of Charles I. du Pont.[1] He attended private schools and the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where he was a member of St. Anthony Hall. Subsequently, he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1882, and commenced practice in Wilmington, Delaware.

He was president of the New Castle Bar Association and chairman of the board of censors.

Political career[edit]

Saulsbury was a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1908 until 1920. He ran for U.S. Senator in 1899, 1901, 1903, 1905, 1907, and 1911, but Republicans controlled the state legislature and he was unsuccessful.

Democrats were in control of the legislature in 1913, the last time U.S. Senators were chosen by state legislators. Saulsbury was the preference of most Democrats and obtained the required majority after several days of balloting. During this term, he served with the Democratic majority in the 63rd, 64th, and 65th Congresses from March 4, 1913, until March 3, 1919. He was the President Pro Tempore of the Senate during the 64th and 65th Congresses. In the 63rd, 64th, and 65th Congresses he was Chairman of the Committee on Coast and Insular Survey, and in the 65th Congress he was also a member of the Committee on Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico.

By the time his term expired, the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution had been enshrined, so he had to face voters for the first time. In the election of 1918, he lost to Republican L. Heisler Ball, a former U.S. Senator. This loss has been attributed to his opposition to women's suffrage in the United States and his refusal to support the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[2]

Later years[edit]

May Lammot du Pont Saulsbury

After leaving the Senate, he was a member of the advisory committee of the Conference on Limitation of Armaments in Washington, D.C., in 1921 and 1922, and a member of the Pan American Conference in Santiago, Chile, in 1923.

He continued the practice of law in Wilmington and Washington, D.C., until his death.

Saulsbury died in Wilmington and is buried in the Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery at Dover.[3]

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington March 4, 1913 March 3, 1919
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1913–1915 63rd U.S. Senate Democratic Woodrow Wilson class 2
1915–1917 64th U.S. Senate Democratic Woodrow Wilson class 2
1917–1919 65th U.S. Senate Democratic Woodrow Wilson class 2
Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1918 U.S. Senator Willard Saulsbury Jr. Democratic 20,113 48% L. Heisler Ball Republican 21,519 51%


  • Franseth, Gregory S; L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin & Shiela Pardee (2003). "The End of an Era in Delaware: The Practical Politics of Willard Saulsbury Jr". University Delaware Library Associates. XI.
  • Munroe, John A. (1993). History of Delaware. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-493-5.
  1. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. XV. James T. White & Company. 1916. p. 105. Retrieved December 21, 2020 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ DuBois, Ellen Carol (April 20, 2020). "A pandemic nearly derailed the women's suffrage movement". National Geographic. Archived from the original on April 21, 2020. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  3. ^ "Willard Saulsbury Succumbs; Third Senator in His Family". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Wilmington, Delaware. AP. February 21, 1927. p. 5. Retrieved December 21, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.

External links[edit]

U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Delaware
Served alongside: Henry A. du Pont, Josiah O. Wolcott
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Coast and Insular Survey Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico Committee
Succeeded byas Chair of the Senate Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Committee
Party political offices
Preceded by Secretary of the Senate Democratic Caucus
Succeeded by
First Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Delaware
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate
Succeeded by