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Edward Bates
Edward Bates

26th United States Attorney General
In office
March 5, 1861 – November 24, 1864
President Abraham Lincoln
Preceded by Edwin M. Stanton
Succeeded by James Speed

Born September 4, 1793(1793-09-04)
Belmont, Virginia, U.S.
Died March 25, 1869 (aged 75)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic-Republican, Whig, Republican
Profession Lawyer, Politician
Military service
Service/branch Volunteer
Rank sergeant
Battles/wars War of 1812

Edward Bates (September 4, 1793 – March 25, 1869) was a U.S. lawyer and statesman. He served as United States Attorney General under Abraham Lincoln from 1861 to 1864. He was also the brother of both Frederick Bates and James Woodson Bates.


Born in Goochland County, Virginia on his family plantation Belmont, he attended school in Maryland and served in the War of 1812. He moved to St. Louis, Missouri Territory in 1814 and there studied law, earning admittance to the bar in 1817, and serving as a U.S. Attorney from 1821 to 1826.

Bates's private practice partner was Joshua Barton who would be the first Missouri Secretary of State. Barton became infamous for fighting duels on Bloody Island (Mississippi River). In 1816 Bates was the second to Barton in a duel with Thomas Hempstead, brother of Edward Hempstead Missouri Territory's first Congressional representative. The fight ended without bloodshed. Barton would be killed in a duel on the island in 1823.[1]

His first foray into politics came in 1820, when he was elected as a member of the state's constitutional convention and then became the new state's attorney general. In 1822, Bates was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. He moved up to the United States House of Representatives for a single term (1827–1829), then returned to Missouri to sit in the State Senate from 1831 to 1835, then again in the Missouri House from 1835. He ran for the U.S. Senate, but lost to Democrat Thomas Hart Benton.

File:Emancipation proclamation.jpg

Lincoln met with his Cabinet for the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation draft on July 22, 1862. L-R: Edwin M. Stanton, Salmon P. Chase, Abraham Lincoln, Gideon Welles, Caleb B. Smith, William H. Seward, Montgomery Blair and Edward Bates.

Bates became a prominent member of the Whig Party during the 1840s. President Millard Fillmore asked him in 1850 to be U.S. Secretary of War, but Bates declined. Charles Magill Conrad then accepted the position. At the Whig National Convention in 1852, Bates was considered for the vice-presidential slot on the ticket, and he led on the first ballot before losing on the second ballot to William Alexander Graham.

After the breakup of the Whig Party in the 1850s, Bates became a Republican, and was one of the four main candidates for the party's 1860 presidential nomination receiving support from Horace Greeley who later switched to supporting Abraham Lincoln.[2] The next year, after winning the election, Lincoln appointed Bates as his Attorney General, an office Bates held from 1861 until 1864. Bates was the first Cabinet member to hail from the region west of the Mississippi River.

Bates returned to Missouri after leaving Lincoln's cabinet. He died in St. Louis in 1869.

See also[]

  • Polly Berry, woman who hired Bates to represent her daughter's suit for freedom
  • Lucy Delaney, 14-year-old slave freed in 1844 suit brought by her mother Polly Berry and argued by Bates


  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: BATES, Edward
  • Cain, Marvin R. Lincoln’s Attorney General: Edward Bates of Missouri. Columbia : University of Missouri Press, 1965.
  • Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. New York : Simon & Schuster, 2005.
  • Judah, Charles and George Winston Smith. The Unchosen. New York : Coward-McCann, 1962.

External links[]

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|- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
(none) |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Missouri State Attorney General
1820–1821 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Rufus Easton |- Template:U.S. Secretary box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives Template:USRepSuccessionBox |} Template:USAttGen

de:Edward Bates fr:Edward Bates it:Edward Bates nl:Edward Bates ja:エドワード・ベイツ sv:Edward Bates