L. Heisler Ball

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L. Heisler Ball
Lewis Heisler Ball (1861-1932) in 1918.jpg
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
March 4, 1919 – March 3, 1925
Preceded byWillard Saulsbury, Jr.
Succeeded byT. Coleman du Pont
In office
March 2, 1903 – March 3, 1905
Preceded byGeorge Gray [1]
Succeeded byHenry A. du Pont [2]
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's At-large district
In office
March 4, 1901 – March 3, 1903
Preceded byWalter O. Hoffecker
Succeeded byHenry A. Houston
Personal details
Born(1861-09-21)September 21, 1861
New Castle County, Delaware, U.S.
DiedOctober 18, 1932(1932-10-18) (aged 71)
New Castle County, Delaware, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
ResidenceWilmington, Delaware, U.S.
Alma materDelaware College
University of Pennsylvania

Lewis Heisler Ball (September 21, 1861 – October 18, 1932) was an American physician and politician from Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Republican Party and served as U.S. Representative from Delaware and two terms as U.S. Senator from Delaware. He was known by his middle name.

Early life and family[edit]

Ball was born in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware, the son of John Ball and Sarah (Baldwin) Ball. He attended the Rugby Academy at Wilmington, Delaware, and graduated from the Delaware College at Newark, Delaware in 1882. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia in 1885[3] and began the practice of medicine at Brandywine Springs, near Wilmington in 1887. He married Katherine Springer Justis on November 14, 1893.

The Addicks Era[edit]

At the turn of the twentieth century, Delaware was going through a political transformation. Most obvious to the public was the bitter division in the Republican Party caused, in part, by the ambitions of J. Edward Addicks for a seat in the U.S. Senate. A gas company industrialist, he spent vast amounts of his own fortune to build a Republican Party, with that purpose in mind. Largely successful in heavily Democratic Kent County and Sussex County, he financed the organization of a faction that came to be known as "Union Republicans". Meanwhile, he was making bitter enemies of the New Castle County "Regular Republicans", many of whom considered him nothing more than a carpetbagger from Philadelphia.[citation needed]

Ball was a "Regular Republican", and an outspoken opponent of Addicks.[citation needed] As such he was elected State Treasurer of Delaware from 1899 to 1901. He was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1900. and served with the Republican majority in the 57th Congress from March 4, 1901, until March 3, 1903, during the administrations of U.S. Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1899 one of the U.S. Senate seats for Delaware became vacant and the Union Republicans in the Delaware General Assembly attempted to electing Addicks.[citation needed] Although they did not have enough votes to do so, the Union Republicans were able to block the election of any other candidate. Because of this deadlock, the seat remained vacant for four years. When the other Senate seat came open in 1901, it too was left vacant due to the deadlock. Finally, in 1903, the matter became national news and too much of an embarrassment.[citation needed] Addicks relented and allowed Ball to be elected to the remaining two years left on the first seat and Addicks' lieutenant, J. Frank Allee was elected to the second seat.

United States Senator[edit]

Ball was elected to the U.S. Senate on March 2, 1903, and served the remaining two years of the term with the Republican majority in the 58th Congress. In 1905, when Ball's term ended, the General Assembly again deadlocked and took another two years to fill the seat. The repeated inability of the Delaware General Assembly to fulfill this constitutional duty contributed strong evidence throughout the nation of the need for the Seventeenth Amendment providing for the popular election of U.S. Senators.[citation needed]

In 1918, Ball was elected to the U.S. Senate in the second popular election of a U.S. Senator in Delaware, defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Willard Saulsbury, Jr.. During this term, Ball served with the Republican majority in the 66th, 67th and 68th U.S. Congress. In the 66th Congress, he was chairman of the Committee on Enrolled Bills and in the 67th and 68th Congress, he was a member of the Committee on the District of Columbia. He was also appointed as a member of the rent commission of Washington. Ball's actions with the rent commission angered some people. In August 1921, a shot was fired at Ball as he drove in an automobile, although he was not injured. The senator had received a threatening letter the day of the assault.[4]

In June 1919 he cast his vote in favor of the Nineteenth Amendment providing for Women's suffrage.

Ball was never considered an especially effective U.S. Senator in terms of gaining patronage for Delaware.[citation needed] He became a rival of T. Coleman du Pont, the former President of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and the effective leader of the Republican Party in Delaware. Du Pont had hoped to be the Republican candidate for U.S. President in 1920, but his efforts began to collapse when Ball deserted him after the first ballot at the 1920 Republican National Convention.[citation needed] Then, in 1922, Ball failed to support du Pont as he sought a full term in the U.S. Senate himself. By 1924 du Pont thought he had a score to settle and defeated Ball for their party’s nomination for a full term in 1924.[citation needed]

Death and legacy[edit]

Ball died at Faulkland, near Wilmington, and is buried in the St. James Episcopal Church Cemetery near Stanton, Delaware.[5]

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
State Treasurer Executive Dover January 17, 1899 January 15, 1901
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington March 4, 1901 March 3, 1903
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington March 2, 1903 March 3, 1905
U.S. Senator Legislative Washington March 4, 1919 March 3, 1925

United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1901–1903 57th U.S. House Republican William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
1903–1905 58th U.S. Senate Republican Theodore Roosevelt class 1
1919–1921 66th U.S. Senate Republican Woodrow Wilson class 2
1921–1923 67th U.S. Senate Republican Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
class 2
1923–1925 68th U.S. Senate Republican Calvin Coolidge class 2

Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1898 State Treasurer L. Heisler Ball Republican Democratic
1900 U.S. Representative L. Heisler Ball Republican 22,353 53% Alexander M. Daly Democratic 19,157 46%
1918 U.S. Senator L. Heisler Ball Republican 21,519 51% Willard Saulsbury, Jr. Democratic 20,113 48%


  1. ^ This seat had been vacant since March 4, 1899
  2. ^ This seat was vacant until June 13, 1906.
  3. ^ "Penn and the U.S. Congress Roster of Alumni, Faculty and Trustees 1774 to the present". University of Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  4. ^ "Shoot At Senator Active In Rent Bill" (PDF). The New York Times. New York. August 19, 1921. p. 2. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  5. ^ Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. The State Treasurer takes office the third Tuesday of January and had a two-year term. U.S. Representatives took office March 4 and also have a two-year term. Before 1913 the General Assembly chose the U.S. Senators, who also took office March 4, but for a six-year term. In this first case, he was completing the existing term, the vacancy caused by the failure of the General Assembly to make a selection for four years. After 1913 the U.S. Senators were popularly elected.


  • Carter, Richard B. (2001). Clearing New Ground, The Life of John G. Townsend, Jr. Wilmington, Delaware: The Delaware Heritage Press. ISBN 0-924117-20-6.
  • Munroe, John A. (1993). History of Delaware. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-493-5.


External links[edit]

Party political offices
First Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Delaware
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
T. Coleman du Pont
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Walter O. Hoffecker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
Henry A. Houston
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
George Gray
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Delaware
Served alongside: J. Frank Allee
Succeeded by
Henry A. du Pont
Preceded by
Willard Saulsbury, Jr.
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Delaware
Served alongside: Josiah O. Wolcott, T. Coleman du Pont, Thomas F. Bayard, Jr.
Succeeded by
T. Coleman du Pont