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J. Caleb Boggs
Official portrait, 1947
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
January 3, 1961 – January 3, 1973
Preceded byJ. Allen Frear Jr.
Succeeded byJoe Biden
Chair of the National Governors Association
In office
June 25, 1959 – June 26, 1960
Preceded byLeRoy Collins
Succeeded byStephen McNichols
62nd Governor of Delaware
In office
January 20, 1953 – December 30, 1960
LieutenantJohn W. Rollins
David P. Buckson
Preceded byElbert N. Carvel
Succeeded byDavid P. Buckson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's at-large district
In office
January 3, 1947 – January 3, 1953
Preceded byPhilip A. Traynor
Succeeded byHerbert B. Warburton
Associate Judge of the New Castle County Family Court
In office
November 9, 1942 – January 3, 1947
Preceded byBilly Bickson
Succeeded byJohnathan Taylor
Personal details
James Caleb Boggs

(1909-05-15)May 15, 1909
Cheswold, Delaware, U.S.
DiedMarch 26, 1993(1993-03-26) (aged 83)
Newark, Delaware, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Elizabeth Muir
(m. 1931; died 1992)
EducationUniversity of Delaware (BA)
Georgetown University (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1941–1946
Unit6th Armored Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsCampaign Stars (5)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star
Croix de Guerre

James Caleb Boggs (May 15, 1909 – March 26, 1993) was an American lawyer and politician from Claymont, Delaware. A liberal Republican, he was commonly known by his middle name, Caleb, frequently shortened to Cale.[1]

He was a veteran of World War II, and a member of the Republican Party, who served three terms as U.S. Representative from Delaware, two terms as Governor of Delaware, and two terms as U.S. Senator from Delaware. He lost re-election in 1972 in an upset by 3,162 votes (or 1.4%) by then-New Castle County councilman and the 46th and current president of the United States Joe Biden.

Early life and education

Boggs was born on May 15, 1909, at Cheswold, Delaware,[2] the son of Edgar Jefferson and Lettie Vaughn Boggs. Boggs joined the Delaware National Guard in 1926 and became a reserve officer that year.[2]

In 1931, he married Elizabeth Muir; the couple had two children, and were members of the Methodist Church.[3]

He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1931 with an A.B. degree[4] and later graduated from Georgetown Law School in 1937[2] with an LLB degree.[2]


In 1938, he was admitted to the Delaware State Bar Association and began the practice of law at Dover, Delaware.[2]

During World War II, he served in the US Army with the 6th Armored Division fighting in Normandy, the Rhineland, the Ardennes, and central Europe. He earned five Campaign Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Croix de Guerre with palm from France.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives

Boggs was appointed Associate Judge of the Family Court of New Castle County in 1946. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1946, defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative Philip A. Traynor. He won the election a total of three times, also defeating Democrats J. Carl McGuigan in 1948, and Henry M. Winchester in 1950. Boggs served in the U.S. House from January 3, 1947, to January 3, 1953.

Governor of Delaware

Boggs as governor.

Boggs was elected Governor of Delaware in 1952, defeating incumbent Democratic Governor Elbert N. Carvel, and won a second term in 1956, defeating Democrat J. H. Tyler McConnell. He served as governor from January 20, 1953, to December 30, 1960, when he resigned because of his upcoming U.S. Senate term. On April 2, 1958, he signed the bill that ended capital punishment in Delaware.[5]

U.S. Senate

Boggs with President Gerald Ford

Boggs was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1960, narrowly defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator J. Allen Frear Jr. by 1.4 percentage points, and becoming the only Republican to defeat an incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator that year. He was again elected to the U.S. Senate in 1966, defeating Democrat James M. Tunnell Jr., son of the former U.S. Senator. He served two terms from January 3, 1961, to January 3, 1973. Boggs voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968,[6][7] as well as the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,[8] the Voting Rights Act of 1965,[9] and the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court.[10]

Boggs lost his bid for a third term in 1972 to the future 47th Vice President and 46th President, Democrat Joe Biden, then a New Castle County councilman. Boggs was a reluctant candidate that year, being persuaded to run only to help avoid a divisive primary election.[11] Biden waged an energetic campaign, questioning Boggs's age and ability, and went on to defeat Boggs by approximately 1.4 percentage points.[12] In his last years, Boggs lived in Wilmington, Delaware, where he continued to practice law until retiring in the early 1980s.[3]

Death and legacy

Boggs' health declined in his final years due to diabetes and cancer. His wife, Elizabeth, died on April 1, 1992, and he died just under a year later, on March 26, 1993, at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware.[3] He is buried in the Old Presbyterian Cemetery in Dover, on the grounds of the Delaware State Museum. The J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building at 844 King Street in Wilmington, Delaware is named for him.

Among the many tributes given by his fellow senators was one from U.S. Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia:[citation needed][excessive quote]

On an objective, senatorial level, Senator Boggs was a militant, but rational environmentalist. A co-sponsor of the National Air Quality Standards Act of 1970, Senator Boggs helped to win congressional approval of this bill, which was signed into law by president Richard Nixon. Further, Cale Boggs was a co-sponsor and helped to write the Water Quality Act of 1965. In 1970, Senator Boggs helped to strengthen State authority to prohibit sewage and pesticide discharge into rivers and lakes and to provide for coordinated Federal attacks on river and lake pollution in the Water Quality Act of 1970. Through these and other vital contributions in education, medicine, agriculture, transportation, and other domestic concerns, Senator Boggs left an enviable record of legislation aimed at improving the quality of life of all Americans and at widening opportunities for all of our citizens. But, above all, Cale Boggs will probably be best remembered by his friends still serving in the Senate and by the people of Delaware as a friend, a man of warm humanity, and as a gentleman who sought ever to set people at ease through his common touch and deep consideration of other people's feelings. Cale Boggs was a man whose friendship one easily sought and, once secured, was long treasured.

List of General Assembly sessions

Delaware General Assembly
(sessions while Governor)
Year Assembly Senate Majority President
pro tempore
House Majority Speaker
1953–1954 117th Republican Thomas L. Johnson Republican Frank A. Jones
1955–1956 118th Democratic Charles G. Moore Democratic James R. Quigley
1957–1958 119th Democratic Lemuel Hickman Democratic Harry E. Mayhew
1959–1960 120th Democratic Allen J. Cook Democratic Sherman W. Tribbitt


Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1946 U.S. Representative J. Caleb Boggs Republican 63,516 56% Philip A. Traynor Democratic 49,105 44%
1948 U.S. Representative J. Caleb Boggs Republican 71,127 51% J. Carl McGuigan Democratic 68,909 49%
1950 U.S. Representative J. Caleb Boggs Republican 73,313 57% Henry M. Winchester Democratic 56,091 43%
1952 Governor J. Caleb Boggs Republican 88,977 52% Elbert N. Carvel Democratic 81,772 48%
1956 Governor J. Caleb Boggs Republican 91,965 52% J. H. Tyler McConnell Democratic 85,047 48%
1960 U.S. Senator J. Caleb Boggs Republican 98,874 51% J. Allen Frear, Jr. Democratic 96,090 49%
1966 U.S. Senator J. Caleb Boggs Republican 97,268 59% James M. Tunnell, Jr. Democratic 67,263 41%
1972 U.S. Senator J. Caleb Boggs Republican 112,844 49% Joe Biden Democratic 116,006 50%


  1. ^
    • Moynihan, Daniel Patrick (1979). "Committee Statement to Report No. 96-391". Congressional Serial Set. p. 1.
    • Hagan, David (2020). No Ordinary Joe: The Life and Career of Joe Biden. Oppian. p. 4. ISBN 9789518771411.
    • Delaware Lawyer. Vol. 4. 1985. p. 10.
    • The Editorial Board (January 17, 2020). "Joe Biden: Former vice president of the United States". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Biographies of Newly Elected Senators". CQ Almanac Online Edition. Retrieved May 14, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d Clements, Nan (March 28, 1993). "J. Caleb Boggs: 1909–1993; Former Del. governor, U.S. senator dies". The News-Journal. p. A1, A17. Retrieved December 9, 2023 – via
  4. ^ Mayer, Michael S. (2010). The Eisenhower Years. Facts On File, Incorporated. p. 51. ISBN 9781438119083 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Answers to Questions". The Reading Eagle. March 9, 1959. p. 8. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  6. ^ "HR. 7152. PASSAGE. -- Senate Vote #409 -- Jun 19, 1964".
  7. ^ "TO PASS H.R. 2516, A BILL TO PROHIBIT DISCRIMINATION IN ... -- Senate Vote #346 -- Mar 11, 1968".
  9. ^ "TO PASS S. 1564, THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965".
  11. ^ "Death and the All-American Boy | Washingtonian (DC)". Washingtonian. 1974-06-01. Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  12. ^ Erickson, Bo (June 4, 2019). "When a young Joe Biden used his opponent's age against him". CBS News.



U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byPhilip A. Traynor Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Delaware's at-large congressional district 1947–1953 Succeeded byHerbert B. Warburton Party political offices Preceded byHyland George Republican nominee for Governor of Delaware 1952, 1956 Succeeded byJohn W. Rollins Preceded byHerbert B. Warburton Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Delaware(Class 2) 1960, 1966, 1972 Succeeded byJames H. Baxter Jr. Political offices Preceded byElbert N. Carvel Governor of Delaware 1953–1960 Succeeded byDavid P. Buckson Preceded byLeRoy Collins Chair of the National Governors Association 1959–1960 Succeeded byStephen McNichols U.S. Senate Preceded byJ. Allen Frear Jr. U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Delaware 1961–1973 Served alongside: John Williams, William V. Roth Jr. Succeeded byJoe Biden