Willard Saulsbury
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
December 14, 1916 – March 3, 1919
Preceded byJames Paul Clarke
Succeeded byAlbert B. Cummins
Secretary of the Senate Democratic Caucus
In office
March 4, 1913 – December 14, 1916
LeaderJohn W. Kern
Preceded byWilliam E. Chilton
Succeeded byKey Pittman (Acting)
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
March 4, 1913 – March 3, 1919
Preceded byHarry A. Richardson
Succeeded byL. Heisler Ball
Personal details
Born(1861-04-17)April 17, 1861
Georgetown, Delaware, U.S.
DiedFebruary 20, 1927(1927-02-20) (aged 65)
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)May Lammot du Pont
RelationsGove Saulsbury (uncle)
Eli M. Saulsbury (uncle)
EducationUniversity of Virginia, Charlottesville

Willard Saulsbury Jr. (April 17, 1861 – February 20, 1927) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party who served as U.S. Senator from Delaware and President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate.

Early life and family

Saulsbury was born in Georgetown, Delaware, son of Willard Saulsbury, Sr., and nephew of Gove Saulsbury and Eli M. Saulsbury. He married May Lammot du Pont, the granddaughter of Charles I. du Pont.[1] He attended private schools and the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where he was a member of St. Anthony Hall. Subsequently, he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1882, and commenced practice in Wilmington, Delaware.

He was president of the New Castle Bar Association and chairman of the board of censors.

Political career

Saulsbury was a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1908 until 1920. He ran for U.S. Senator in 1899, 1901, 1903, 1905, 1907, and 1911, but Republicans controlled the state legislature and he was unsuccessful.

Democrats were in control of the legislature in 1913, the last time U.S. Senators were chosen by state legislators. Saulsbury was the preference of most Democrats and obtained the required majority after several days of balloting. During this term, he served with the Democratic majority in the 63rd, 64th, and 65th Congresses from March 4, 1913, until March 3, 1919. He was the President Pro Tempore of the Senate during the 64th and 65th Congresses. In the 63rd, 64th, and 65th Congresses he was Chairman of the Committee on Coast and Insular Survey, and in the 65th Congress he was also a member of the Committee on Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico.

By the time his term expired, the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution had been enshrined, so he had to face voters for the first time. In the election of 1918, he lost to Republican L. Heisler Ball, a former U.S. Senator. This loss has been attributed to his opposition to women's suffrage in the United States and his refusal to support the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[2]

Later years

May Lammot du Pont Saulsbury
May Lammot du Pont Saulsbury

After leaving the Senate, he was a member of the advisory committee of the Conference on Limitation of Armaments in Washington, D.C., in 1921 and 1922, and a member of the Pan American Conference in Santiago, Chile, in 1923.

He continued the practice of law in Wilmington and Washington, D.C., until his death.

Saulsbury died in Wilmington and is buried in the Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery at Dover.[3]

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington March 4, 1913 March 3, 1919
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1913–1915 63rd U.S. Senate Democratic Woodrow Wilson class 2
1915–1917 64th U.S. Senate Democratic Woodrow Wilson class 2
1917–1919 65th U.S. Senate Democratic Woodrow Wilson class 2
Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1918 U.S. Senator Willard Saulsbury Jr. Democratic 20,113 48% L. Heisler Ball Republican 21,519 51%


  1. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. XV. James T. White & Company. 1916. p. 105. Retrieved December 21, 2020 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ DuBois, Ellen Carol (April 20, 2020). "A pandemic nearly derailed the women's suffrage movement". National Geographic. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  3. ^ "Willard Saulsbury Succumbs; Third Senator in His Family". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Wilmington, Delaware. AP. February 21, 1927. p. 5. Retrieved December 21, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
U.S. Senate Preceded byHarry A. Richardson U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Delaware 1913–1919 Served alongside: Henry A. du Pont, Josiah O. Wolcott Succeeded byL. Heisler Ball Preceded byCharles E. Townsend Chair of the Senate Coast and Insular Survey Committee 1913–1918 Succeeded byEdward Gay Preceded byJohn F. Shafroth Chair of the Senate Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico Committee 1918–1919 Succeeded byAlbert B. Fallas Chair of the Senate Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Committee Party political offices Preceded byWilliam E. Chilton Secretary of the Senate Democratic Caucus 1913–1916 Succeeded byKey PittmanActing First Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Delaware(Class 2) 1918 Succeeded byJames M. Tunnell Political offices Preceded byJames Paul Clarke President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate 1916–1919 Succeeded byAlbert B. Cummins