John G. Townsend Jr.
|United States Senator|
March 4, 1929 – January 3, 1941
|Preceded by||Thomas F. Bayard Jr.|
|Succeeded by||James M. Tunnell|
|55th Governor of Delaware|
January 16, 1917 – January 18, 1921
|Lieutenant||Lewis T. Eliason|
|Preceded by||Charles R. Miller|
|Succeeded by||William D. Denney|
|Member of the Delaware House of Representatives|
January 13, 1903 - January 10, 1905
John Gillis Townsend Jr.
May 31, 1871
Worcester County, Maryland
|Died||April 10, 1964 (aged 92)|
John Gillis Townsend Jr. (May 31, 1871 – April 10, 1964) was an American businessman and politician from Selbyville in Sussex County, Delaware. He was a member of the Republican Party who served one term as Governor and two terms as U.S. Senator from Delaware.
Early life and family
Townsend was born in Bishopville in 1871, in Worcester County, Maryland, son of John Gillis Townsend and Mariedith Dukes Townsend. He married Jennie Collins, and they had seven children: John G. III, Jennie Thelma, Paul, Julia, Preston Coleman, Edith, and Lyla. His wife was killed in an automobile accident while he was governor. They were members of the Methodist Church.
Professional and political career
When the railroad first came through Bishopville, Townsend learned telegraphy and was hired by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Soon he recognized the need for railroad ties, set up a sawmill to make them, and began selling them. In 1896, he moved his family to Selbyville, Delaware, where he began growing strawberries. Before long he was known as the "Strawberry King." To better manage his business he set up his own bank, the Baltimore Trust Company, which became the state's second-largest bank. Townsend, Inc. moved into poultry, corn and soybeans. By the time he died, it was one of the state's largest and most diversified agricultural businesses. He continued his businesses after entering politics and returned to their management when he was not in office.
Governor of Delaware
Townsend was elected to the Delaware House of Representatives and served one term during the 1903-04 session as a member of the Addicks, or Union Republican, faction of the Republican Party. He was elected Governor of Delaware in 1916 by defeating Democrat James H. Hughes, a lawyer from Dover, Delaware.
United States Senator
Townsend was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1928, defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Thomas F. Bayard Jr. and was reelected in 1934, defeating former Democratic U.S. Representative Wilbur L. Adams. Townsend lost his bid for a third term in 1940 to Democrat James M. Tunnell, a lawyer from Georgetown, Delaware.
In the 72nd Congress, he was chairman of the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses. He was also a member of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission in 1939 and 1940.
Death and legacy
"Townsend's administration was one of progressiveness and reform...all the major reforms of the 19th century came to maturity during this time: woman suffrage, new and better highways, prohibition, school reform, etc..."
|Delaware General Assembly |
(sessions while Governor)
|1917–1918||99th||Republican||John A. Barnard||Democratic||Hervey P. Hall|
|1919–1920||100th||Republican||Isaac D. Short||Republican||Alexander P. Corbit|
Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. Members of the Delaware General Assembly take office the second Tuesday of January. State representatives have a two-year term. The governor takes office the third Tuesday of January and has a four-year term. U.S. Senators are popularly elected and took office March 4 until 1935, when they began taking office January 3 for a six-year term.
|Office||Type||Location||Began office||Ended office||Notes|
|State Representative||Legislature||Dover||January 13, 1903||January 10, 1905|
|Governor||Executive||Dover||January 16, 1917||January 18, 1921|
|U.S. Senator||Legislature||Washington||March 4, 1929||January 3, 1935|
|U.S. Senator||Legislature||Washington||January 3, 1935||January 3, 1941|
|Delaware General Assembly service|
|1903–1904||92nd||State House||Republican||John Hunn||Sussex 7th|
|United States Congress service|
|1929–1931||71st||U.S. Senate||Republican||Herbert Hoover||class 1|
|1931–1933||72nd||U.S. Senate||Republican||Herbert Hoover||Audit and Control||class 1|
|1933–1934||73rd||U.S. Senate||Democratic||Franklin D. Roosevelt||class 1|
|1935–1936||74th||U.S. Senate||Democratic||Franklin D. Roosevelt||class 1|
|1937–1938||75th||U.S. Senate||Democratic||Franklin D. Roosevelt||class 1|
|1939–1940||76th||U.S. Senate||Democratic||Franklin D. Roosevelt||class 1|
|1916||Governor||John G. Townsend Jr.||Republican||26,664||52%||James H. Hughes||Democratic||24,053||47%|
|1928||U.S. Senator||John G. Townsend Jr.||Republican||63,725||61%||Thomas F. Bayard Jr.||Democratic||40,828||39%|
|1934||U.S. Senator||John G. Townsend Jr.||Republican||52,829||53%||Wilbur L. Adams||Democratic||45,771||46%|
|1940||U.S. Senator||John G. Townsend Jr.||Republican||63,799||47%||James M. Tunnell||Democratic||68,294||51%|
- Martin, Roger A. (1984). A History of Delaware Through its Governors. Wilmington, Delaware: McClafferty Press., p. 358.
- Carter, Richard B. (2001). Clearing New Ground, The Life of John G. Townsend Jr. Wilmington, Delaware: The Delaware Heritage Press. ISBN 0-924117-20-6.
- Hoffecker, Carol E. (2000). Honest John Williams. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press.
- Hoffecker, Carol E. (2004). Democracy in Delaware. Wilmington, Delaware: Cedar Tree Books. ISBN 1-892142-23-6.
- Martin, Roger A. (1984). History of Delaware Through its Governors. Wilmington, Delaware: McClafferty Press.
- Martin, Roger A. (1995). Memoirs of the Senate. Newark, Delaware: Roger A. Martin.
- Munroe, John A. (1993). History of Delaware. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-493-5.
- Sobel, Robert; J. Racino (1988). Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States 1789-1978. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-930466-00-4.
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