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Richard Bassett was born the son of Arnold & Judith Thompson Bassett in Cecil County, MD., on April 2, 1745. After his father deserted his mother, he was reared by a relative, Peter Lawson, from whom he later inherited "Bohemia Manor" (Maryland) estate. He read for the law in Philadelphia and in 1770 received a license to practive in Dover, De. He prospered as a lawyer and planter, and eventually came to own not only "Bohemia Manor", but homes in Dover and Wilmington, De. as well.
During the Revolutionary War, Bassett captained a cavalary militia from Dover and served on the Delaware council of safety. Subsequently, he participated in Delaware's constitutional convention and sat in both the House and Senate in the Delaware Legislature. In 1786 he represented Delaware in the Annapolis Convention.
At the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787, Bassett attended diligently but made no speeches, served on no committees, and cast no critical votes. Like several other delegates of estimable reputation and talent, he allowed others to make the major steps.
Bassett subsequently went on to a bright career in the state and federal governments. In the Delaware ratifying convention, he joined in the 30-0 vote for the Constitution. Subsequently, in the years 1789-93, he served in the U.S. Senate. In that capacity, he voted in favor of the power of the President to remove governmental officers and against Hamilton's plan for federal assumption of state debts.
From 1793 until 1799 Bassett held the chief justiceship of the court of common pleas. He espoused the Federalist cause in the 1790's, and served as a Presidential elector on behalf of John Adams in 1797. Two years later, Bassett was elected Governor of Delaware and continued in that post until 1801. That year, he became President Adam's "midnight" appointment as a judge of the U.S. Circuit Court. Subsequently, the Jeffersonian Republicans abolished his judgeship, and he spent the rest of his life in retirement.
Bassett was married twice. He first married Ann Ennals and they had four children prior to her death. He then married Betsy Garnett with whom he had no children. He was a devout Methodist and held religious meetings at "Bohemia Manor" and supported the church financially. He died in September, 1815 at the age of 70 and was interred in the Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery, Wilmington, De.
Richard Bassett's legacy lived on in Delaware... His daughter Ann married "James Asheton Bayard, Sr." who was not only a United States Senator himself, but so were his two sons (Bassett's Grandsons) "James Asheton Bayard, Jr." & "Richard Henry Bayard" as also was his Great-Grandson "Thomas Francis Bayard, Sr.", and his Great-Great Grandson "Thomas Francis Bayard, Jr.". Quite a legacy indeed!