Outerbridge Horsey

Outerbridge Horsey III (March 5, 1777 – June 9, 1842) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, Delaware. He was a member of the Federalist Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly, as Attorney General of Delaware (1806–1810) and as United States Senator from Delaware (1810–1821).

Outerbridge Horsey
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
January 12, 1810 – March 3, 1821
Preceded bySamuel White[1]
Succeeded byCaesar A. Rodney[2]
4th Attorney General of Delaware
In office
GovernorNathaniel Mitchell
George Truitt
Preceded byNicholas Van Dyke
Succeeded byThomas Clayton
Personal details
Born(1777-03-05)March 5, 1777
Sussex County, Delaware
DiedJune 9, 1842(1842-06-09) (aged 65)
Frederick County, Maryland
Political partyFederalist
SpouseEliza Lee
Residence(s)Georgetown, Delaware
Wilmington, Delaware

Early life and familyEdit

Horsey was born in Little Creek Hundred, near Laurel, Delaware. First living in Georgetown, Delaware, he moved to Wilmington, and studied the law there under James A. Bayard, who remained his lifelong political mentor. A frequent supporter of education, Horsey, early in his career, urged the establishment of a library in Georgetown, and later was appointed a trustee of the College of Wilmington. He was admitted to the Delaware Bar in December 1807, and began a practice in Wilmington. He married Elizabeth Digges Lee, daughter of Thomas Sim Lee (1745-1819) of Maryland.[3]

He owned more than 36 slaves during his life, and freed some of them as he grew older.[4][5]

Professional and political careerEdit

While practicing the law and after representing Sussex County in the State House from the 1801 session through the 1803 session, Horsey was appointed to be the Delaware Attorney General and served from 1806 to 1810.

In 1810 he was elected to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of U.S. Senator Samuel White. In the Senate he initially opposed the War of 1812 strongly, but once it had been declared, he supported it with equal vigor. He accordingly became a member of the Committee of Safety and was actively involved in preparing the defenses of Fort Union and Wilmington. In March 1814 Horsey presented a petition from the citizens of Delaware to repeal the Embargo Act of 1807; although he was able to get a committee appointed to consider the question, the effort was ultimately unsuccessful. He was reelected in 1814, and served from January 12, 1810,[6] to March 3, 1821.

Following the War of 1812, but while still a contentious subject, the need for internal improvements had become much more apparent and recognized. It would be on Horsey's motion in January 1816, that the Senate finally passed the resolution to print and distribute copies of Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin's 1808 Report on the Subject of Public Roads and Canals. The report, which had been requested by the Senate in 1807 and transmitted to it in 1808[7] had fallen victim to the embargo, the loss of revenue, and the necessities of war. With the report's distribution, many of its concepts would be incorporated into the Bonus Bill of 1817.

Several years later, he parted ways with the Delaware General Assembly which had passed a resolution asking Delaware's congressmen to vote against any extension of slavery. Horsey did not feel U.S. Congress had the right to prohibit slavery in Missouri, or anywhere else in the Louisiana Purchase, and so supported the Missouri Compromise. Understanding the unpopularity of this position he did not seek reelection when his term ended. During the 16th Congress, he served as Chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia.

Death and legacyEdit

Horsey died at Needwood, his wife's estate near Petersville in Frederick County, Maryland and is buried in St. John's Cemetery at Frederick.

He owned the Zachariah Ferris House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.[8][9]


Elections were held the first Tuesday of October. Members of the State House took office on the first Tuesday of January for a term of one year. The General Assembly chose the U.S. Senators, who took office March 4 for a six-year term. In this case he was initially completing the existing term, the vacancy caused by the death of Samuel White.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
State Representative Legislature Dover January 6, 1801 January 5, 1802
State Representative Legislature Dover January 5, 1802 January 4, 1803
State Representative Legislature Dover January 4, 1803 January 3, 1804
Attorney General Executive Dover 1806 1810 Delaware
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington January 12, 1810 March 3, 1815
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington March 4, 1815 March 3, 1821
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1810–1811 11th U.S. Senate Republican James Madison class 1
1811–1813 12th U.S. Senate Republican James Madison class 1
1813–1815 13th U.S. Senate Republican James Madison class 1
1815–1817 14th U.S. Senate Republican James Madison class 1
1817–1819 15th U.S. Senate Republican James Monroe class 1
1819–1821 16th U.S. Senate Republican James Monroe class 1


  1. ^ this seat was vacant from November 4, 1809 until January 12, 1810.
  2. ^ this seat was vacant from March 4, 1821 until January 23, 1822.
  3. ^ Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series): Elizabeth Digges Horsey (1783-1862) (MSA SC 3520-14927)
  4. ^ Morgan, Michael (7 March 2020). "Delaware history: A vote for Missouri Compromise ended a senator's career". Delmarva Now. Salisbury Daily Times. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  5. ^ Weil, Julie Zauzmer; Blanco, Adrian; Dominguez, Leo (10 January 2022). "More than 1,700 congressmen once enslaved Black people. This is who they were, and how they shaped the nation". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  6. ^ seated January 29, 1810.
  7. ^ Report on the Subject of Public Roads and Canals,
  8. ^ Albert Kruse (August 1969). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Zachariah Ferris House".
  9. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.


  • DePuydt, Peter J. (Spring 2009). "Free at Last, Someday: Senator Outerbridge Horsey and Manumission in the Nineteenth Century". Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. 76 (2): 164–178. doi:10.2307/27778885. JSTOR 27778885.
  • Martin, Roger A. (1995). Memoirs of the Senate. Newark, DE: Roger A. Martin.
  • Munroe, John A. (1954). Federalist Delaware 1775-1815. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University.
  • Wilson, W. Emerson (1969). Forgotten Heroes of Delaware. Cambridge, MA: Deltos Publishing Company.

External linksEdit

Places with more informationEdit

Legal offices
Preceded by Attorney General of Delaware
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator from Delaware
Succeeded by