Born: 1793-09-04 Goochland County, Virginia
Died: 1869-03-25 Saint Louis, Missouri
Edward Bates briefly lived in Maryland before enlisting in the Virginia militia during the War of 1812. He mustered out as a sergeant in 1813 and moved to live with his brother in St. Louis, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1816. He won election to the 1820 Missouri constitutional convention and served as the state's first attorney general. He was elected to the Missouri General Assembly in 1822 before becoming a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1827 to 1829. He married Julia Coalter in 1823, with whom he had seventeen children - one of whom fought for the Confederacy and another for the Union.
Bates served as a Whig in the state legislature at various points in the 1830s and continued to practice law in St. Louis. Outrage over the Kansas-Nebraska Act brought him back into national politics, where he briefly sided with the Know Nothings but joined with the Republicans by 1860. He was a viable candidate for the party's presidential nomination that year but lost to Abraham Lincoln, who subsequently appointed Bates attorney general. In this role, Bates defended Lincoln's suspension of Habeas corpus but opposed the Emancipation Proclamation. Bates resigned his position in 1864 and returned to St. Louis.
James M. McPherson, "Bates, Edward," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 2:329-30; Marvin R. Cain, Lincoln's Attorney General: Edward Bates of Missouri (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1965); Edward Bates, The Diary of Edward Bates, 1859-1866 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1933).