Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen was the third U.S. Senator in the Frelinghuysen political and governmental family dynasty. He was the son of Frederick Frelinghuysen [1788-1820] and Mary Dumont. Upon the death of his father, when Frederick was only three years old, his uncle Theodore Frelinghuysen [1787-1862], the future U.S. Senator, adopted him. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen was also the grandson of Frederick Frelinghuysen, the first U.S. Senator in the Frelinghuysen political dynasty. His grandfather was not only a U.S. Senator but also fought in the Revolutionary War as a Colonel, and later became a Major General, and was a framer of the U.S. Constitution.
Frederick T. Frelinghuysen attended and graduated from Rutgers College, New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1836. He studied law under his uncle in Newark, New Jersey, was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1839 and commenced law practice in Newark, New Jersey. He became the Newark City Attorney in 1849, and a Newark City Council Member in 1850. From 1861 to 1866 he served as Attorney General of New Jersey. In 1866 he was appointed by the Governor of New Jersey, a Republican, to fill the vacant U. S. Senate seat. He was elected to fill the remaining time in the seat in the following year and served until 1869 when he was unable to get reelected. In 1871 he ran again for the U.S. Senate and was elected for a full term. He then served in the U.S. Senate from 1871 to 1877.
In addition to the above governmental and political activities he was engaged in a number of other related governmental activities. In 1871 he was nominated by President Ulysses S. Grant, and confirmed by the Senate to serve as U.S. Minister to England, but for some unknown reason he declined the appointment. During his period in the U.S. Senate from 1871 to 1877 he was Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs during the Alabama Claims negotiations. He was also a strong opponent of the Reconstruction measures of President Andrew Johnson. He voted for President Andrew Johnson’s conviction on the impeachment trial. And he was a member of the Electoral Commission that decided the 1876 Presidential election. As a Republican he voted with the eight-member majority on all counts. And finally, at the end of 1881 he was appointed U.S. Secretary of State by President Chester A. Arthur to succeed James G. Blaine, and served until the inauguration of President Grover Cleveland in 1885.
Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen married Matilda Elizabeth Griswold and the couple had several children including George Griswold Frelinghuysen whose summer estate is now the Frelinghuysen Arboretum. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen is also the uncle of U.S. Senator Joseph Sherman Frelinghuysen [1869-1948], the cousin, several times removed, of U.S. Representative Peter Hood Ballentine Frelinghuysen  and the cousin, several times removed, of U.S. Representative Rodney P. Frelinghuysen .
In addition to his political, governmental and legal activities Frederick T. Frelinghuysen also served on the Board of Trustees of Rutgers College from1851 to 1885, the year of his death. A dormitory at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey is named after him.
Shortly after the end of his position as U.S. Secretary of State, and after his return to his home in Newark, New Jersey, Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen passed away, in1885, at the age of 68. He is interred at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.
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