<<Back to Bios
Served the Territorial Court from 1805 through 1806
Frederick Bates was born in Belmont, Virginia, on June 23, 1777. He was the son of a Quaker, Thomas Fleming Bates, and one of seven sons and five daughters. Bates was well educated and disciplined to study and work by his father. At the age of 16 he was apprenticed to a court clerk to study law and to support himself. Bates made his home in Detroit, yet in 1795, he obtained employment in the Quartermaster’s Department of the Army of the Northeast and left home for the frontier, often visiting Mackinaw and other outposts. In 1802, he resigned from the Army and became Postmaster in Detroit. Two years later, Bates became the Receiver at the Detroit Land Office. In a few years, he acquired capital and became a storekeeper in Detroit while continuing to study law in his spare hours.
At that time, Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States and James Madison was Secretary of State. They both were friends of Bates’ family. Bates was appointed Territorial Judge and Land Commissioner in the Territory of Michigan. Though he had no college education or experience as a judge, he was popular with the people of Michigan and his appointment was applauded in Detroit. He resigned his position as Postmaster but retained the office of Receiver of Public Money. Bates served on the Supreme Court of the Territory of Michigan from 1805 and he resigned in 1808.
On a visit to Washington, D.C., to deliver a report as Land Commissioner, he was appointed, against his wish, the Secretary of Louisiana. He held the office of Secretary until Missouri became a state in 1820. He was appointed U.S. Reporter of Land Titles, which required him to reside in St. Louis, Missouri. He served in that position until 1824, when he was elected the second Governor of Missouri. Frederick Bates died on August 21, 1825, while still serving as Governor. He left behind a widow, several children and a reputation without a stain. (Michigan Biographies. Vol. I A – K. Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission, 1924.)