Biography and History

Born in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, in 1787, Samuel Lewis Southard was the son of Henry Southard, a two-time member of Congress from New Jersey. Southard graduated from Princeton in 1804, eventually going to Virginia to work as a private tutor for family friends the Taliaferro family. There he made the acquaintance of political leaders, including James Monroe, in whose cabinet he would later serve. In 1811, Southard returned to New Jersey to practice law in Flemington. After becoming a successful prosecutor, Southard entered politics in 1815, when he was elected to the state general assembly as a Whig. Shortly thereafter, Southard became a justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. The popularity Southard had gained as a prominent New Jersey prosecutor and the political friendships he had established helped him get appointed to a vacant U.S. Senate seat in 1821. He represented New Jersey as a Jeffersonian Republican. Southard resigned from his U.S. Senate seat in 1823 when President James Monroe named him Secretary of the Navy, a post which he held with distinction through the administrations of Presidents Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Southard vigorously opposed the policies of Adams' successor Andrew Jackson, most notably over the National Bank issue. Southard returned to New Jersey after Jackson's inauguration in 1829. Southard and his family moved to Trenton, as Southard had been nominated by his party to run for a recently vacated U.S. Senate seat. Though he lost the U.S. Senate election, the state legislature elected him to serve as attorney general of New Jersey. Southard also began to practice law again after returning to New Jersey. In 1832, Southard reluctantly accepted his party's nomination for governor and was elected by the state legislature shortly thereafter. The governorship was not what Southard was looking for in his political career. He resigned in 1833 and was again elected by the legislature to the U.S. Senate, where he served until shortly before his death in 1842. Although not remembered as one of the great statesmen of his day, Samuel Southard was an important figure in New Jersey politics.

Source: From the finding aid for C0250

Occupations

  • Statesman--United States--19th century..
  • Samuel L. Southard Papers. 1802-1846 (bulk), 1783-1893 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0250

    This collection consists of papers of New Jersey politician, lawyer, and governor Samuel Lewis Southard, presenting a rather comprehensive view of Southard's personal and professional life, as well as the state of American politics and the law profession during the first half of the nineteenth century. Included is a significant amount of Southard's personal and professional correspondence and notebooks. Also contained in this collection are printed materials from Southard's library, other printed documents, and papers generated by family members and associates.

  • Samuel L. Southard Papers. 1802-1846 (bulk), 1783-1893 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0250

    This collection consists of papers of New Jersey politician, lawyer, and governor Samuel Lewis Southard, presenting a rather comprehensive view of Southard's personal and professional life, as well as the state of American politics and the law profession during the first half of the nineteenth century. Included is a significant amount of Southard's personal and professional correspondence and notebooks. Also contained in this collection are printed materials from Southard's library, other printed documents, and papers generated by family members and associates.