American Abolitionists and Antislavery Activists:
Conscience of the Nation

Updated August 19, 2018













l to r: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips

Republican Party - Part 8







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Founders and Political Leaders - Part 8

Ten Eyck, John Conover, 1814-1879, lawyer.  Republican U.S. Senator from New Jersey.  Was a Whig until 1856.  Joined Republican Party in 1856.  Chosen senator in 1859.  Served until March 1865.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery. (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 62; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TEN EYCK, John Conover, senator, born in Freehold, New Jersey, 12 March, 1814; died in Mount Holly, New Jersey, 24 August, 1879. He received his education from private tutors, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1835, and practised in Mount Holly, New Jersey. He served as prosecuting attorney for Burlington County in 1839-49,and was a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1844. Mr. Ten Eyck was a Whig till 1856, when he joined the Republican party, and he was afterward chosen to the U. S. Senate, where he held his seat from 5 December, 1859, till 3 March, 1865. In the Senate Mr. Ten Eyck took part in various debates, including that on the electoral vote of Louisiana in 1865, but his principal services were performed on the judiciary and other committees. On 24 April, 1875, he was appointed a member of a commission to revise the New Jersey constitution, and on the death of Abram 0. Zabriskie he became its president. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 62.


Thayer, Eli, 1819-1899, Worcester, Massachusetts, abolitionist, educator, Congressman, established Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society, 1854, which changed to New England Aid Company in 1855  (Filler, 1960, pp. 238-239; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 56; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 71-72; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 402; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 488)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THAYER, Eli,
educator, born in Mendon, Massachusetts, 11 June, 1819. He was graduated at Brown in 1845, was subsequently principal of the Worcester Academy, and in 1848 founded the Oread institute, collegiate school for young ladies, in Worcester,  Massachusetts, of which he is treasurer. He was for several years a member of the school board of Worcester, and in 1853 an alderman of the city. In 1853-'4 he was a representative in the legislature, and while there originated and organized the Emigrant aid Company, laboring till 1857 to combine the northern states in support of his plan to send anti-slavery settlers into Kansas, Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, and Ossawatomie were settled under the auspices of his company. Governor Charles Robinson, at the quarter-centennial celebration of Kansas, at Topeka, said: “Without these settlements Kansas would have been a slave state without a struggle; without the Aid society these towns would never have existed; and that society was born of the brain of Eli Thayer.” Charles Sumner also said that he would rather have the credit that is due to Eli Thayer for his Kansas work than be the hero of the battle of New Orleans. In 1857-'61 Mr. Thayer sat in Congress as a Republican, serving on the committee on militia, and as chairman of the committee on public lands. In 1860 he was a delegate for Oregon to the National Republican convention at Chicago and labored for the nomination of Lincoln. He has patented many inventions, which cover a wide field. Among these are a hydraulic elevator in use in this country and in Europe, a sectional safety steam boiler, and an automatic boiler-cleaner, or sediment-extractor. He has published a volume of congressional speeches (Boston, 1860); several lectures (Worcester, 1886); and is now writing a history of the Emigrant aid Company that he organized and its influence on our national history. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 71-72.


Thayer, Martin Russell, born 1819, jurist.  Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.  In Congress 1862-1867.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 73; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THAYER, Martin Russell, jurist, born in Petersburg, Virginia, 27 January, 1819, was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1840, admitted to the Philadelphia bar in 1842, and began to practise in that city. In 1862-'7 he sat in Congress, having been elected as a Republican, serving in the committee on the bankrupt law and as chairman of the committee on private land claims. In 1862 he was appointed a commissioner to revise the revenue laws of Pennsylvania, and in 1867, declining re-election to Congress, he was appointed one of the judges of the district court of the County of Philadelphia, and he has recently been re-elected. In 1873 he was appointed on the board of visitors to West Point, and wrote the report. In the succeeding year he became president-judge of the court of common pleas of Philadelphia. He is the author of “The Duties of Citizenship” (Philadelphia, 1862); “The Great Victory: its Cost and Value” (1865); “The Law considered as a Progressive Science” (1870); “On Libraries” (1871); “The Life and Works of Francis Lieber” (1873); and “The Battle of Germantown” (1878). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 73.


Trumbull, Lyman, 1813-1896,  lawyer, jurist, U.S. Senator, voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 166; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 19; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 877; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TRUMBULL, Lyman, senator, born in Colchester, Connecticut, 12 October, 1813, began to teach at sixteen years of age, and at twenty was at the head of an academy in Georgia, where he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1837. He moved to Belleville, Illinois, and in 1841 was secretary of the state of Illinois. In 1848 he was elected one of the justices of the state supreme court. In 1854 he was chosen to represent his district in Congress, but before his term began he was elected U. S. Senator, and took his seat, 4 March, 1855. Until that time he had affiliated with the Democratic party, but on the question of slavery he took a decided stand against his party and his colleague, Stephen A. Douglas, especially on the question of “popular sovereignty.” In 1860 he was brought forward by some Republicans as a candidate for president. He had no desire to be so considered, and when his friend, Abraham Lincoln, was nominated, he labored with earnestness for his election. In 1861 he was re-elected to the U. S. Senate, in which he did good service for the National cause, and was one of the first to propose the amendment to the Federal constitution for the abolition of slavery. He was one of the five Republican senators that voted for acquittal in the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, and afterward he acted with the Democratic party, whose candidate for governor of Illinois he was in 1880. Since his retirement from Congress he has had a lucrative law practice in Chicago. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 166.


Tuck, Amos, 1810-1879, Parsonfield, Maine, lawyer, politician, abolitionist.  Co-founder of the Republican Party.  Free-Soil and Whig anti-slavery member of the U.S. Congress.  Opposed the Democratic Party and its position supporting the annexation of Texas and the extension of slavery to the new territories.  Elected to Congress in 1847 and served until 1853.  Prominent anti-slavery congressman, allied with Joshua R. Giddings of Ohio and John G. Palfrey of Massachusetts.  (Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 27)


Van Dyke, John

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

VAN DYKE, John, jurist, born in Lamington, New Jersey, 3 April. 1807; died in Wabasha, Minnesota, 24 December, 1878. He was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1830, and immediately rose to prominence in the Suydam-Robinson murder trial. He held many offices of trust and was the first president of the Bank of New Jersey at New Brunswick. He was elected to Congress in 1847 and served two terms, during which his course was marked by bitter opposition to slavery. In politics he was a Whig, and afterward one of the founders of the Republican Party in New Jersey. In 1859 he became one of the state supreme court judges, which post he held until 1866. Two years later he went to Minnesota, and was there, by special appointment, judge of the 3d judicial district. He published some anti-slavery pamphlets and contributed to magazines. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 246.


Van Valkenburgh, Robert Bruce, 1821-1888, lawyer, Union Colonel.  Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York.  Member of Congress 1861-1865.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery. (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 256; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

VAN VALKENBURG, Robert Bruce,
congressman, born in Steuben County, New York, 4 September, 1821; died at Suwanee Springs, Florida, 2 August, 1888. He received an academic education, adopted the profession of law, and served three terms in the New York assembly. When the Civil War opened he was placed in command of the state recruiting depot at Elmira, New York, and organized seventeen regiments for the field. He served in Congress in 1861-'5, having been chosen as a Republican, and took the field in 1862 as colonel of the 107th Regiment of New York Volunteers, which he commanded at Antietam. In the 38th Congress he was chairman of the committees on the militia, and expenditures in the state department. He was appointed by President Johnson in 1865 acting commissioner of Indian Affairs, during the absence of the commissioner, and in 1866-'9 was U. S. minister to Japan. He became a resident of Florida when he returned from that mission, and was chosen associate justice of the state supreme court, which place he held at his death. Judge Van Valkenburg was an able politician and jurist. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 256.


Vaughn, John C., Ohio


Wade, Benjamin Franklin, 1800-1878, lawyer, jurist, U.S. Senator, strong and active opponent of slavery.  In 1839, opposed enactment of stronger fugitive slave law, later calling for its repeal.  Demanded the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  U.S. Senator, March 1851-1869.  Opposed Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854.  Supported passage of the Confiscation Act, which prevented escaped slaves from being returned to their former owners by the Union Army.  Reported a bill in the Senate to abolish slavery in U.S. Territories in 1862.  Voted for the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

(Appletons’, 1888, pp. 310-311; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 2, p. 303; Blue, 2005, pp. 11-13, 213-237; Filler, 1960, pp. 103, 151, 229; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 23, 25, 48-49, 54, 71, 116, 132, 143-144, 172, 189, 216, 217, 227, 228, 230; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 499; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 22, p. 431; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WADE, Benjamin Franklin,
senator, born in Feeding Hills, near Springfield, Massachusetts, 27 October, 1800; died in Jefferson, Ohio, 2 March, 1878. His ancestor, Jonathan, came from Norfolk, England, to Massachusetts in 1632. His father, James, a soldier of the Revolution, moved to Andover, Ohio, in 1821. The son's education was received chiefly from his mother. He shared in the pioneer work of his new home, and in 1823, after aiding in driving a herd of cattle to Philadelphia, went to Albany, New York, where he spent two years in teaching, also beginning the study of medicine with his brother, and at one time working as a common laborer on the Erie canal to obtain funds. On his return to Ohio he began the study of law, was admitted to the bar in 1827, and began practice in Jefferson. He formed a partnership with Joshua R. Giddings in 1831, and in 1835 was elected prosecuting attorney of Ashtabula County, which office he held till 1837. In that year he was chosen as a Whig to the state senate, where, as a member of the judiciary committee, he presented a report that put an end to the granting of divorces by the legislature. In 1839 he was active in opposition to the passage of a more stringent Fugitive-Slave Law, which commissioners from Kentucky were urging on the legislature. The law passed, but his forcible speech against it did much to arouse state pride on the subject and to make it a dead letter. His action cost him his re-election to the Senate, but he was chosen again in 1841. In February, 1847, he was elected by the legislature president-judge of the 3d judicial district, and while on the bench he was chosen, on 15 March, 1851, to the U. S. Senate, where he remained till 1869. He soon became known as a leader of the small anti-slavery minority, advocated the homestead bill and the repeal of the Fugitive-Slave Law, and opposed the Kansas-Nebraska bill of 1854, the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton constitution of 1858, and the purchase of Cuba. After the assault on Charles Sumner, Robert Toombs avowed in the Senate that he had witnessed the attack, and approved it, whereupon Mr. Wade, in a speech of great vehemence, threw down the gage of personal combat to the southern senators. It was expected that there would be an immediate challenge from Toombs, but the latter soon made peace. Subsequently Mr. Wade, Zachariah Chandler, and Simon Cameron made a compact to resent any insult from a southerner by a challenge to fight. This agreement was made public many years afterward. Wade was present at the battle of Bull Run with other congressmen in a carriage, and it is related that after the defeat seven of them alighted, at Wade's proposal, being armed with revolvers, and for a quarter of an hour kept back the stream of fugitives near Fairfax Court-House. This incident, as narrated in the journals, made a sensation at the time. Mr. Wade labored earnestly for a vigorous prosecution of the war, was the chairman and foremost spirit of the joint committee on the conduct of the war in 1861-'2, and was active in urging the passage of a confiscation bill. As chairman of the committee on territories, he reported a bill in 1862 to abolish slavery in all the territories. He was instrumental in the advancement to the portfolio of war of Edwin M. Stanton, whom he recommended strongly to President Lincoln. Though he cordially supported the administration, he did not hesitate to criticise many of its acts, and after the adjournment of the 38th Congress he issued, with Henry Winter Davis, what became known as the Wade-Davis manifesto, condemning the president's proposed reconstruction policy. Mr. Wade became president pro tempore of the Senate, and thus acting vice-president of the United States, on 2 March, 1867, succeeding Lafayette S. Foster. He advised President Johnson to put on trial for treason a few of the Confederate leaders and pardon the rest, and was radical in his ideas of reconstruction. In the impeachment of President Johnson he voted for conviction. In 1869, at the close of his second term, he was succeeded in the Senate by Allen G. Thurman, and he then returned to his home in Jefferson, Ohio. He was one of the chief members of the Santo Domingo commission in 1871, and then became attorney for the Northern Pacific Railroad. He was chairman of the Ohio delegation in the Cincinnati national convention of 1876, and earnestly advocated the nomination of Rutherford B. Hayes, but after his accession to the presidency Mr. Wade bitterly condemned his course in relation to the southern states. Though Mr. Wade had been called “Frank Wade” in Ohio, from his middle name, he was known in Congress and throughout the country as Ben or “Old Ben” Wade. He was popularly looked upon as one of the bulwarks of the National cause in the darkest hours of the Civil War, and was widely admired and respected for his fearlessness, independence, and honesty. His rugged and forcible style of oratory always commanded attention. See his “Life,” by Albert G. Riddle (Cleveland, Ohio, 1888).—His son, JAMES FRANKLIN, entered the army on 14 May, 1861, as 1st lieutenant of the 6th U. S. Cavalry, and rose in rank till at the close of the war he was major and brevet brigadier-general of volunteers. He became lieutenant-colonel on 20 March, 1879, and colonel of the 5th U.S. Cavalry on 21 April, 1887. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 310-311.


Wade, Edward, 1802-1866, West Springfield, Massachusetts, Ohio, lawyer, prominent abolitionist.  Free Soil party U.S. Congressman from Ohio in the 33rd Congress.  Republican representative in the 34th and 35th Congresses.  Opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.  (Blue, 2005, pp. 11-13, 213, 226, 236, 268; Dumond, 1961, pp. 302, 363; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 23, 25, 26, 48, 65, 71, 72; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 56).


Wadsworth, James Samuel

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WADSWORTH, James Samuel, soldier, born in Geneseo, New York, 30 October, 1807; died near Chancellorsville, Virginia, 8 May, 1864, was educated at Harvard and Yale and studied law in Albany, completing his course with Daniel Webster. Although he was admitted to the bar in 1833, he never practised his profession, but devoted himself to the management of the family estate in western New York, which amounted to 15,000 acres. In 1852 he was elected president of the State Agricultural Society, in which he was interested during his life. He promoted education and the interests of the community in which he lived. He founded a public library in Geneseo. was a subscriber to the endowment of Geneseo College, aided in establishing the school-district library system, and was active in philanthropical labors. Although a Federalist by education and a Democrat by conviction,  he supported the Free-Soil Party in 1848, and continued to act in defence of the anti-slavery movement. He was a presidential elector on the Republican ticket in 1856 and 1860. In 1861 he was a delegate to the Peace Convention in Washington, and at the beginning of the Civil War he was among the first to offer his services to the government. In April, 1861, he was commissioned a major-general by Governor Edwin D. Morgan, but the appointment was subsequently revoked. When communication with the capital was cut off, he chartered two ships upon his own responsibility, loaded them with provisions, and went with them to Annapolis, where he superintended the delivery of the supplies. He was volunteer aide to General Irvin McDowell at the first battle of Bull Run, where he was commended for bravery and humanity. Afterward he was made brigadier-general of volunteers, 9 August, 1861, assigned to a command in the advance under General George B. McClellan, and guarded the city of Washington. On 15 March, 1862, he became military governor of the District of Columbia. In the autumn of 1862 he was the Republican candidate for governor of New York, but was defeated by Horatio Seymour. In the following December he was assigned to the command of a division in the Army of the Potomac under General Ambrose B. Burnside, and participated in the battle of Fredericksburg, 13 December, 1862. He displayed great military skill in the command of the 1st Division of the 1st Army Corps under General John F. Reynolds. At Gettysburg his division was the first to engage the enemy on 1 July, 1863, and on that day lost 2,400 out of 4,000 men. During the second and third days' fighting he rendered good service in maintaining the heights on the right of the line. At the council of war held after the victory he was one of the three that favored pursuit of the enemy. Early in 1864 he was sent on special service to the Mississippi Valley, and made an extensive tour of inspection through the southern and western states. On the reorganization of the Army of the Potomac in 1864, he was assigned to the command of the 4th Division of the 5th Corps, composed in part of his old command. While endeavoring to rally his troops during the battle of the Wilderness, 6 May, 1864, he was struck in the head by a bullet, and before he could be removed the enemy had gained possession of the ground where he lay. Although unconscious, he lingered for two days. It is said that his troops were inspired by his heroic bearing continually to renew the contest, when but for him they would have yielded. He was brevetted major-general of volunteers on 6 May, 1864. Horace Greeley, in his " American Conflict" (Hartford, 1864-'6), says: "The country's salvation claimed no nobler sacrifice than that of James S. Wadsworth, of New York. . . . No one surrendered more for his country's sake, or gave his life more joyfully for her deliverance." In 1888 a movement was in progress for the erection in Washington of a monument to his memory. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 312-313.


Walker, Amasa, 1799-1875, Boston, Massachusetts, political economist, abolitionist.  Republican U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts.  Active and vigorous opponent of slavery.  Walker was an early supporter of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, 1834.  He submitted a resolution outlining the objectives of the Society to be the principles of religion, philanthropy and patriotism.  American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) Manager, 1837-1840, 1840-1841, 1843-1844, Counsellor, Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, 1840-1841.  Co-founder of Free Soil Party in 1848.  Served in Congress December 1862 through March 1863.

(Filler, 1960, pp. 60, 254; Mabee, 1970, pp. 258, 340, 403n25; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 324-325; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 338; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 22, p. 485; Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 1.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 223-230; Annual Report of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, 1834)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography :

WALKER, Amasa, political economist, born in Woodstock, Connecticut, 4 May, 1799; died in Brookfield, Massachusetts, 29 October, 1875. He received a district-school education in North Brookfield, where among his fellow-students was William C. Bryant. In 1814 he entered commercial life, and in 1820 formed a partnership with Allen Newell in North Brookfield, but three years later withdrew to become the agent of the Methuen manufacturing Company. In 1825 he formed with Charles G. Carleton the firm of Carleton and Walker, of Boston, Massachusetts, but in 1827 he went into business independently. In 1840 he withdrew permanently from commercial affairs, and in 1842 he went to Oberlin, Ohio, on account of his great interest in the college there, and gave lectures on political economy at that institution until 1848. After serving in the legislature, he became the Free-Soil and Democratic candidate for speaker, and in 1849 was chosen to the Massachusetts Senate, where he introduced a plan for a sealed-ballot law, which was enacted in 1851, and carried a bill providing that Webster's Dictionary should be introduced into the common schools of Massachusetts. He was elected Secretary of State in 1851, re-elected in 1852, and in 1853 was chosen a member of the convention for revising the state constitution, becoming the chairman of the committee on suffrage. He was appointed in 1853 one of the examiners in political economy in Harvard, and held that office until 1860, and in 1859 he began an annual course of lectures on that subject in Amherst, which he continued until 1869. Meanwhile, in 1859, he was again elected to the Massachusetts legislature, and in 1860 he was chosen a member of the electoral college of that state, casting his ballot for Abraham Lincoln. He was also elected as a Republican to Congress, and served from 1 December, 1862, till 3 March, 1863. Mr. Walker is best known for his work in
advocating new and reformatory measures. In 1839 he urged a continuous all-rail route of communication between Boston and Mississippi River, and during the same year he became president of the Boston temperance society, the first total abstinence association in that city. He was active in the anti-slavery movement, though not to the extent of recommending unconstitutional methods for its abolition, and in 1848 he was one of the founders of the Free-Soil party. Mr. Walker was a member of the first International Peace Congress in London in 1843, and was one of its vice-presidents, and in 1849 he held the same office in the congress in Paris. The degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by Amherst in 1867. In 1857 he began the publication of a series of articles on political economy in “Hunt's Merchant's Magazine,” and he was accepted as an authority on questions of finance. Besides other contributions to magazines, he published “Nature and Uses of Money and Mixed Currency” (Boston, 1857), and “Science of Wealth, a Manual of Political Economy” (1866), of which eight editions have been sold, and it has been translated into Italian. With William B. Calhoun and Charles L. Flint he issued “Transactions of the Agricultural Societies of Massachusetts” (7 vols., 1848-'54). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 324-325.

Washburn, William Barrett
, 1820-1887, businessman. Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts.  U.S. Senator.  Served in Congress 1863-1872, and U.S. Senate May 1874-March 1875.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 372; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WASHBURN, William Barrett,
senator, born in Winchendon, Massachusetts, 31 January, 1820; died in Springfield, Massachusetts, 5 October, 1887. He was graduated at Yale in 1844, and became a manufacturer at Greenfield, Massachusetts, where he was for many years president of the National bank, and which he represented in both branches of the legislature in 1850-'4. He was identified with the Republican party from its organization in 1856, and at the beginning of the Civil War contributed liberally to the National cause. In 1862 he was sent to Congress as a Republican, and he was returned biennially till on 1 January, 1872, he resigned his seat to become governor of Massachusetts. This office he resigned also during his third term to fill the vacancy that was made in the U. S. Senate by the death of Charles Sumner, serving from 1 May, 1874, till 3 March, 1875, when he withdrew from public affairs. Besides holding many offices of trust under corporate societies, he was a trustee of Yale, of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, and of Smith College, of which he was also a benefactor, and a member of the board of overseers of Amherst from 1864 till 1877. Harvard conferred the degree of LL. D. upon him in 1872. By his will he made the American board, the American Home Missionary Society, and the American Missionary Association residuary legatees, leaving to each society about $50,000. He was also a great benefactor of the Greenfield public library. He died suddenly while attending a session of the American Board of Commissioners for foreign missions, of which he was a member.  Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 372.


Waterman, Robert Whitney

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WATERMAN, Robert Whitney, governor of California, born in Fairfield, Herkimer County, New York, 15 December, 1826. His father was a merchant, and died while the son was quite young. Two years afterward Robert moved to Sycamore, Illinois, where three elder brothers had preceded him. Until his twentieth year he was a clerk in a country store, and in 1846 he engaged in business for himself in Belvidere, Illinois. In 1849 he was postmaster at Genoa, Illinois. In 1850 he went to California and engaged in mining on Feather River, but two years later he returned to Wilmington, Illinois, where in 1853 he published the Wilmington "Independent," at the same time carrying on other business enterprises. In 1854 he was a delegate to the convention at Bloomington. Illinois, that gave a name to the Republican Party, and he was an associate of Abraham Lincoln, Lyman Trumbull, Richard Yates, David Davis, and Owen Lovejoy. In 1856 he took an active part in the Fremont Campaign, and in 1858 he was engaged in the senatorial contest between Lincoln and Douglas. In 1873 he returned to California, and he established his home at San Bernardino in that state the following year. He was successful in discovering and developing silver-mines in what has since come to be known as the Calico mining district in San Bernardino County. In 1886 he was elected lieutenant-governor as a Republican. Upon the death of Governor Washington Bartlett, 12 September, 1887, Mr. Waterman was called to the duties of chief executive. During recent years Governor Waterman has engaged in numerous business enterprises in various parts of California. He is the owner of the famous Stonewall gold-mine in San Diego County, and has extensive ranch properties in southern California. He is president of the San Diego, Cuyamaca and Eastern Railway, and is connected with many other public enterprises. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 386-387.


Walton, E. P., Vermont


Warren, Joseph, editor, Detroit Tribune


Washburn, Israel, Maine


Web, Seth, Massachusetts


Weed, Thurlow, 1797-1882, journalist, opponent of slavery  (Sorin, 1971, p. 63; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 419-420; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 598; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 22, p. 882)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WEED, Thurlow, journalist, born in Cairo, Greene County, New York, 15 November, 1797; died in New York City, 22 November, 1882. At twelve years of age he entered a printing-office in Catskill, New York. Soon afterward he moved with his father's family to the frontier village of Cincinnatus, Cortland County, New York, and aided in clearing the settlement and in farming, but in 1811 returned to the printing business, and was successively employed in several newspaper offices. At the beginning of the second war with Great Britain he enlisted as a private in a New York regiment, and served on the northern frontier. In 1815 he moved to New York City, where he was employed in the printing establishment of Van Winckle and Wiley. They were the publishers at that time of William Cobbett's “Weekly Register,” and Weed became acquainted with the eccentric author by carrying proof-sheets to him. He went to Norwich, Chenango County, New York, in 1819, established the “Agriculturist,” and two years afterward moved to Manlius, New York, where he founded the “Onondaga County Republican.” In 1824 he became owner and editor of the “Rochester Telegraph,” the second daily paper that was published west of Albany. While Mr. Weed was editing that journal Lafayette visited the United States, and Weed accompanied him in a part of his tour throughout the country. Difficulties arising out of the anti-Mason excitement caused Mr. Weed's retirement from the “Telegraph” in 1826, and in the same year he founded the “Anti-Mason Enquirer.” He was a member of the legislature in 1825. In 1830 he established the Albany “Evening Journal,” which took a conspicuous part in the formation of the Whig and the Republican parties, being equally opposed to the Jackson administration and to nullification. During the thirty-five years of his control of that organ it held an influential place in party journalism, and brought Mr. Weed into intimate relations with politicians of all parties. His political career began in 1824 in the presidential conflict that resulted in the election of John Quincy Adams. He succeeded in uniting the Adams and Clay factions, and was acknowledged by the leaders of his party to have contributed more than any other to their success in that canvass. He was active in the nomination of William Henry Harrison in 1836 and 1840, of Henry Clay in 1844, of General Winfield Scott in 1852, and of John C. Frémont in 1856. In 1860 he earnestly advocated the nomination of William H. Seward for the presidency, but he afterward cordially supported Abraham Lincoln, whose re-election he promoted in 1864. He subsequently aided the regular nominations of the Republican Party, and did good service in the canvass of General Ulysses S. Grant for the presidency. Especially in his own state he influenced the elections, and in the constitutional crisis that arose from the presidential election in 1876 he guided in a powerful degree the decisions of his party. He had visited Europe several times before the Civil War, and in 1861 with Archbishop Hughes and Bishop McIlvaine he was sent abroad to prevail on foreign governments to refrain from intervention in behalf of the Confederacy. In this service he stoutly defended the national interests, and, through his influence with English and French statesmen, brought about a result that permanently affected the feeling of Europe toward the United States. His “Letters” from abroad were collected and published (New York, 1866). He became editor of the New York “Commercial Advertiser” in 1867, but was compelled to resign that office the next year, owing to failing health, and did not again engage in regular work. Mr. Weed was tall, with a large head, overhanging brows, and massive person. He had great natural strength of character, good sense, judgment, and cheerfulness. From his youth he possessed a geniality and tact that drew all to him, and it is said that he never forgot a fact or a face. He was a journalist for fifty-seven years, and, although exercising great influence in legislation and the distribution of executive appointments, he refused to accept any public office. He was one of the earliest advocates of the abolition of imprisonment for debt, was a warm opponent of slavery, supported the policy of constructing and enlarging the state canals, and aided various railway enterprises and the establishment of the state banking system. He took an active part in the promotion of several New York City enterprises—the introduction of the Croton water, the establishment of the Metropolitan Police, the Central Park, the Harbor Commission, and the Castle Garden Depot and commission for the protection of immigrants. He gave valuable aid to many charitable institutions, and devoted a large part of his income to private charity. He published some interesting “Reminiscences” in the “Atlantic Monthly” (1876), and after his death his “Autobiography,” edited by his daughter, appeared (Boston, 1882), the story of his life being completed in a second volume by his grandson, Thurlow Weed Barnes (1884).
Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI. pp. 419-420.

Welles, Gideon, 1802-1878, newspaper editor.  Secretary of the Navy, Lincoln’s cabinet.  Opposed the extension of slavery.  Allowed African American refugees to join the U.S. Navy.  Secretary of the Navy 1861-1869.  (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 427; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 629; Welles’ diaries, manuscripts, Library of Congress)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WELLES, Gideon, Secretary of the Navy, born in Glastonbury, Connecticut, 1 July, 1802; died in Hartford, Connecticut, 11 February, 1878, entered Norwich University, Vermont, but, without being graduated, began to study law. In 1826 he became editor and part owner of the Hartford “Times” with which he remained connected till 1854, though he retired from the responsible editorship in 1836. He made his paper the chief organ of the Democratic Party in the state. It was the first to advocate the election of Andrew Jackson to the presidency, and earnestly upheld his administration. Mr. Welles was a member of the legislature in 1827-‘35, and both in that body and in his journal attacked with severity the proposed measure to exclude from the courts witnesses that did not believe in a future state of rewards and punishments. He also labored for years to secure the abolition of imprisonment for debt, opposed special and private legislation, and secured the passage of general laws for the organization of financial corporations. He began an agitation for low postage before the subject had begun to attract general attention. He was chosen comptroller of the state by the legislature in 1835, and elected to that office by popular vote in 1842 and 1843, serving as postmaster of Hartford in the intervening years. From 1846 till 1849 he was chief of the bureau of provisions and clothing in the U.S. Navy department at Washington. Mr. Welles had always opposed the extension of slavery. He identified himself with the newly formed Republican Party in 1855, and in 1856 was its candidate for governor of Connecticut. In 1860 he labored earnestly for the election of Abraham Lincoln, and on the latter's election Mr. Welles was given the portfolio of the U.S. Navy in his cabinet. Here his executive ability compensated for his previous lack of special knowledge, and though many of his acts were bitterly criticised, his administration was popular with the navy and with the country at large. His facility as a writer made, his state papers more interesting than such documents usually are. In his first report, dated 4 July, 1861, he announced the increase of the effective naval force from forty-two to eighty-two vessels. This and the subsequent increase in a few months to more than 500 vessels was largely due to his energy. In the report that has just been mentioned he also recommended investigations to secure the best iron-clads, and this class of vessels was introduced under his administration. In the cabinet Mr. Welles opposed all arbitrary measures, and objected to the declaration of a blockade of southern ports, holding that this was a virtual acknowledgment of belligerent rights, and that the preferable course would be to close our ports to foreign commerce by proclamation. By request of the president, he presented his ideas in writing; but the cabinet finally yielded to the views of Secretary Seward. Early in the war, on 25 September, 1861, he ordered that the Negro refugees that found their way to U. S. vessels should be enlisted in the navy. He held his post till the close of President Johnson's administration in 1869. In 1872 he acted with the Liberal Republicans, and in 1876 he advocated the election of Samuel J. Tilden, afterward taking strong grounds against the electoral commission and its decision. After his retirement from office he contributed freely to current literature on the political and other events of the civil war, and provoked hostile criticism by what many thought his harsh strictures on official conduct. In 1872 he published an elaborate paper to show that the capture of New Orleans in 1862 was due entirely to the navy, and in 1873, a volume entitled “Lincoln and Seward.” Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI. pp. 427.


Wentworth, John, 1815-1888, New Hampshire, lawyer, editor, newspaper publisher.  Congressman, 1843-1851, 1853-1855, 1865-1867.  Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, elected in 1857 and 1860.  Anti-slavery advocate.  Early co-founder of an anti-slavery political party that became the Republican Party.  (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 436; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 657)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WENTWORTH, John, journalist, born in Sandwich, New Hampshire, 5 March, 1815; died in Chicago, Illinois, 16 October, 1888, was a son of Paul Wentworth, and the grandson on his mother's side of Colonel Amos Cogswell, a Revolutionary officer. After graduation at Dartmouth in 1836, he settled in Illinois in 1836, attended the first meeting to consider the propriety of organizing the town of Chicago into a city, did much to procure its charter, and voted at its first city election in May, 1837. He studied law at Chicago, attended lectures at Harvard law-school, and was admitted to practice in Illinois in 1841. While studying law he conducted the Chicago “Democrat,” which he soon purchased and made the chief daily paper of the northwest and of which he was publisher, editor, and proprietor until 1861. Being elected to Congress as a Democrat, he served from 4 December, 1843, till 3 March, 1851, and again from 5 December, 1853, till 3 March, 1855. He introduced in that body the first bill favoring the establishment of the present national warehouse system, was instrumental in securing the grant of land to the state of Illinois out of which was constructed the present Illinois Central Railroad. He was one of the Democrats and Whigs in Congress that assembled at Crutchet's, at Washington, the morning after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise passed the house, and resolved to ignore all party lines and form an anti-slavery party. Out of this grew the present Republican Party, with which he afterward acted. He was elected mayor of Chicago in 1857 and again in 1860, and was the first Republican mayor elected in the United States after the formation of the party, and issued the first proclamation after Fort Sumter was fired upon, calling on his fellow-citizens to organize and send soldiers to the war. He introduced the first steam fire-engine, “Long John,” in Chicago in 1857, and later two others, the “Liberty” and “Economy.” Upon each occasion of his assumption of the mayor's office he found a large floating debt, and left money in the treasury for his successor. In 1861 he was a member of the convention to revise the constitution of Illinois, and he was a member of the board of education in 1861-'4 and in 1868-'72. He served again in Congress from 4 December, 1865, till 3 March, 1867, was a member of the committee of ways and means, and was an earnest advocate of the immediate resumption of specie payments. Mr. Wentworth had been a member of the Illinois State Board of Agriculture, and was the largest real estate owner in Cook County. He received the degree of LL. D. from Dartmouth, to which college he gave $10,000, and was elected president of its alumni in 1883. Owing to his extreme height he was called “Long John” Wentworth. In addition to lectures and writings upon the early history of Chicago, and historical contributions to periodicals, he was the author of “Genealogical, Bibliographical, and Biographical Account of the Descendants of Elder William Wentworth” (Boston, 1850), and “History of the Wentworth Family” (3 vols., 1878).  Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 436.


White, Albert Smith

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WHITE, Albert Smith, senator, born in Blooming Grove, Orange County, New York, 24 October, 1803; died in Stockwell, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, 4 September, 1864. He was graduated at Union in 1822, in the class with William H. Seward. After studying law he was admitted to the bar in 1825, and soon afterward moved to Indiana. In March, 1829, he opened an office in Lafayette, where, and in the neighboring town of Stockwell, he resided until his death. During the session of 1828-'9 he reported the proceedings of the Indiana Legislature for an Indianapolis journal, the first work of the kind that had been done in the state. In 1830-'l he was assistant clerk of the Indiana House of Representatives, and from 1832 till 1835 he served as its clerk. In 1832 he was a candidate for Congress in opposition to Edward A. Hannegan, but was defeated. Four years later he was elected, serving from 4 September, 1837, till 3 March, 1839. The year before he had been an elector on the Whig ticket. In 1839 Mr. White was elected to the U. S. Senate as the successor of General John Tipton. There were three candidates, and he was not chosen until the 36th ballot. In the Senate he opposed the annexation of Texas, as well as every other measure that tended to extend the area of slavery. He was also active in securing grants of land to aid in the extension of the Wabash and Erie Canal. On the expiration of his senatorial term in 1845 he resumed the practice of law, but soon abandoned it to become actively engaged in the construction of railroads. He was president of the Indianapolis and Lafayette road from its organization until 1856, and for three years was also at the head of the Wabash and Western Railway. In 1860 Mr. White was elected to Congress as a Republican, and served from 4 July, 1861, till 3 March, 1863. He was made chairman of a select committee whose duty it was to consider the question of compensated emancipation, and reported a bill appropriating $180,000,000 to pay loyal owners for their slaves, and $20,000,000 to aid in the colonization of the freedmen. This measure was recommended and supported by Mr. Lincoln with all the influence of his office. In presenting the bill, Mr. White accompanied it with an elaborate report on slavery as a social and political problem. He contended that the white and black races should be separated, and the latter colonized in the equatorial regions of America. He also assured the south that if his proposition were not accepted, their slaves would ultimately be taken from them without compensation. Mr. White, at the close of his term, failed to secure a renomination, mainly on account of his action on this question. He was named by the president one of three commissioners to adjust the claims of citizens of Minnesota and Dakota, against the government for Indian depredations. On the death of Caleb B. Smith, 7 January, 1864, President Lincoln appointed Mr. White U. S. judge for the district of Indiana, but he lived to discharge the duties of the office only a few months. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 466-467.


White, David Nye

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WHITE, David Nye, journalist, born in Wareham, Massachusetts, 22 August, 1805; died in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, 1 April, 1888. He was descended from Peregrine White, and his father, Ebenezer, served through the Revolutionary War. He moved with his parents to Ohio soon after the war of 1812; was a Printer in Canton, Ohio, and Rochester, New York, in December, 1827, moved to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and in 1841 purchased the Pittsburg " Gazette," of which he was also editor. He was opposed to slavery, and, despairing of accomplishing anything to benefit the slaves through the existing political parties, he published a call in 1855 for a county convention to form a new party. The call had few signers, but, when the convention met, every district in the county was represented by a duly elected delegate. A ticket was nominated, and from this beginning, it is claimed, sprang the Republican Party. Mr. White was collector of internal revenue of the 23d district of Pennsylvania for four years, a member of the state house of representatives three years, and a delegate at large to the Constitutional Convention of 1873-'4. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 469.


Wilkinson, Morton Smith, born 1819, lawyer.  Republican U.S. Senator from Minnesota.  U.S. Senator from 1859-1865.  U.S. Congressman from March 1869-March 1871.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery. (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 512; Congressional Globe).

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WILKINSON, Morton Smith,
senator, born in Skaneateles, Onondaga County, New York, 22 January, 1819. He received an academical education, went to Illinois in 1837, was engaged for two years in railroad business, afterward returned to his native place, where he studied law, was admitted to the bar in Syracuse in 1842, and in 1843 began practice at Eaton Rapids, Michigan He moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1847, was elected a member of the first territorial legislature in 1849, and was appointed one of a board of commissioners to prepare a code of laws for the territory. He was elected to the U. S. Senate as a Republican in 1859, and held his seat till 1865, serving as chairman of the committee on Revolutionary claims, and as a member of the committee on Indian affairs. He was a delegate to the Baltimore convention of 1864 and to the Loyalists' Convention of 1866 at Philadelphia, and served in Congress from Minnesota from 4 March, 1869, till 3 March, 1871. He was a member of the state senate in 1874-'7, and afterward united with the Democratic Party. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI. pp. 512.


Willey, Waitman Thomas, 1811-1900, lawyer.  U.S. Senator from Virginia (1861), later West Virginia (1863).  Willey was elected by the Unionist legislature at Wheeling to take the seat of U.S. Senator James M. Mason.  He participated in the convention that decided to create the new state of West Virginia.  Thus, West Virginia was the only state to secede from the Confederacy.  Presented the Constitution of West Virginia and lobbied the U.S. Congress to accept its provisions, which called for the gradual abolition of slavery for the new state.  Became a Radical Republican.  Served in Senate until March 1871.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery. (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 519; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 2, p. 246; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WILLEY, Waitman Thomas, senator, born in Monongalia County. Va. (now West Virginia), 18 October, 1811. He was graduated at Madison College, Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1831, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1833. He was clerk of the county and circuit courts successively from 1841 till 1855, and a member in 1850-'l of the Virginia Constitutional Convention. Mr. Willey was a delegate to the state convention that met at Richmond in February, 1861, and after the adoption of the ordinance of secession was elected by the Unionist legislature at Wheeling to occupy the seat in the U. S. Senate that was vacated by James M. Mason, taking his seat on 13 July, 1861. He attended the convention that decided to create a new state, was chosen to represent West Virginia in the senate, and took his seat on 8 December, 1863. In the following year he was re-elected for the full term that ended on 3 March, 1871, and served as chairman of the committees on patents and on claims. In 1806 he was a delegate to the Loyalists' convention at Philadelphia, and in 1871 he was a member of the Constitutional Convention of West Virginia. He has written for reviews and delivered lectures on various subjects, including a series on "Methodism" in 1853. Allegheny College gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1863. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 519.


Williams, Thomas, 1806-1872, lawyer.  Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.  Served as Congressman from December 1863 through 1869.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 533; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WILLIAMS, Thomas,
lawyer, born in Greensburgh, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 28 August, 1806. He was graduated at Dickinson College in 1825, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1828, and entered into practice at Pittsburg. He served in the state senate from 1838 till 1841. In 1861 he entered the state house of representatives, and after serving two years was elected to Congress as a Republican, taking his seat on 7 December, 1863. He was twice re-elected, was a member of the committee on the judiciary during his entire period of service, and in March, 1868, acted as one of the managers of the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI. pp. 533.


Wilmot, David, 1814-1868, lawyer, jurist, anti-slavery activist, U.S. Congressman, Pennsylvania.  He was an early founder of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania.  Introduced Wilmot Proviso into Congress to exclude slavery in territories acquired from Mexico in 1846-1849.  The Proviso stated:  “
Provided, That, as an express and fundamental condition to the acquisition of any territory from the Republic of Mexico by the United States, by virtue of any treaty which may be negotiated between them, and to the use by the Executive of the moneys herein appropriated, neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall first be duly convicted.”  Congressman Wilmot’s writings suggest that one of his motives was to protect White laborers in the new territory.  In a New York speech, Wilmot talked of the end of slavery when he stated, “Keep it within its given limits… and in time it will wear itself out.  Its existence can only be perpetrated by constant expansion…  Slavery has within itself the seeds of its own destruction.”  In 1856, Wilmot attended the Republican national convention and supported John C. Frémont as its presidential candidate.  He was appointed by the Pennsylvania state legislature to serve in the U.S. Senate from 1861-1863.

(Blue, 2005, pp. 10, 13, 52, 105, 184-212, 265; Dumond, 1961, pp. 359-360; Going, 1966; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 32-33, 47-48, 60, 92, 98, 146, 147, 255n; Morrison, 1967; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 49, 133, 252, 261, 397, 476, 513, 517-518; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 544; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 2, p. 317; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 23, p. 553)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WILMOT, David,
jurist, U.S. Congressman, born in Bethany, Pennsylvania, 20 January, 1814; died in Towanda, Pennsylvania, 16 March, 1868. He received an academical education at Bethany and at Aurora, New York, was admitted to the bar at Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, in 1834, and soon began practice at Towanda, where he afterward resided. His support of Martin Van Buren in the presidential canvass of 1836 brought him into public notice, and he was subsequently sent to Congress as a Democrat, serving from 1 December, 1845, to 3 March, 1851. During the session of 1846, while a bill was pending to appropriate $2,000,000 for the purchase of a part of Mexico, he moved an amendment “that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory.” This, which became known as the “Wilmot Proviso,” passed the house, but was rejected by the Senate, and gave rise to the Free-Soil movement. Mr. Wilmot was president-judge of the 13th district of Pennsylvania in 1853-'61, a delegate to the National Republican conventions of 1856, and 1860, acting as temporary chairman of the latter, was defeated as the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania in 1857, and elected to the U. S. Senate as a Republican, in place of Simon Cameron, who resigned to become Secretary of War in President Lincoln's cabinet, serving from 18 March, 1861, to 3 March, 1863. In that body he was a member of the committees on pensions, claims, and foreign affairs. He was appointed by President Lincoln judge of the U. S. Court of Claims in 1863, and died in office. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI. pp. 544.

Wilson, Henry, 1812-1875, abolitionist leader, statesman, U.S. Senator and Vice President of the United States.  Massachusetts State Senator.  Member, Free Soil Party.  Founder of the Republican Party.  Strong opponent of slavery.  Became abolitionist in 1830s.  Opposed annexation of Texas as a slave state.  Bought and edited Boston Republican newspaper, which represented the anti-slavery Free Soil Party.  Called for the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1815.  Introduced bill to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia and the granting of freedom to slaves who joined the Union Army.  Supported full political and civil rights to emancipated slaves.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.  (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 548-550; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 2, p. 322; Congressional Globe)

Biography from
Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography :

WILSON, Henry,
statesman, born in Farmington, New Hampshire, 16 February, 1812; died in Washington, D. C., 22 November, 1875. He was the son of a farm-laborer, whose ancestors were from the north of Ireland, and at the age of ten was apprenticed to a farmer till the age of twenty-one. During those eleven years of service he received not more than twelve months' schooling altogether, but read more than a thousand volumes. When his apprenticeship terminated in December, 1833, he set out from Farmington on foot in search of work, which he found at Natick, Massachusetts, in the house of a shoemaker. On attaining his majority he had his name, which was originally Jeremiah Jones Colbaith, changed by legislative enactment to the simpler one of Henry Wilson. He learned the trade of his employer and followed it for two years, earning enough money to return to New Hampshire and study in the academies at Stafford, Wolfborough, and Concord. At the same time he made his appearance in public life as an ardent Abolitionist during the attempts that were made in 1835 to stop the discussion of the slavery question by violent means. The person to whom he had intrusted his savings became insolvent, and in 1838, after a visit to Washington, where his repugnance to slavery was intensified by the observation of its conditions, he was compelled to relinquish his studios and resume shoemaking at Natick. In 1840 he appeared in the political canvass as a supporter of William Henry Harrison, addressing more than sixty Whig meetings, in which he was introduced as the “Natick cobbler.” In that year and the next he was elected to the Massachusetts house of representatives, and then after a year's intermission served three annual terms in the state senate.

He was active in organizing in 1845
a convention in Massachusetts to oppose the admission of Texas into the Union as a slave state, and was made, with John Greenleaf Whittier, the bearer of a petition to Congress against the proposed annexation, which was signed by many thousands of Massachusetts people. In the following year he presented in the legislature a resolution condemnatory of slavery, supporting it with a comprehensive and vigorous speech. In 1848 he went as a delegate to the Whig National Convention in Philadelphia, and on the rejection of anti-slavery resolutions spoke in protest and withdrew. On his return he defended his action before his constituents, and soon afterward bought the Boston “Republican” newspaper, which he edited for two years, making it the leading organ of the Free-Soil party. He was chairman of the Free-Soil state committee in 1849-'52. In 1850 he returned to the state senate, and in the two following years he was elected president of that body. He presided over the Free-Soil National Convention at Pittsburg in 1852, and in the ensuing canvass acted as chairman of the national committee of the party. As chairman of the state committee he had arranged a coalition with the Democrats by which George S. Boutwell was elected governor in 1851 and Charles Sumner and Robert Rantoul were sent to the U. S. Senate. He was a candidate for Congress in 1852, and failed of election by only ninety-three votes, although in his district the majority against the Free-Soilers was more than 7,500. In 1853 he was a member of the state constitutional convention and proposed a provision to admit colored men into the militia organization. In the same year he was defeated as the Free-Soil candidate for governor. He acted with the American Party in 1855, with the aid of which he was chosen to succeed Edward Everett in the U. S. Senate. He was a delegate to the American National Convention in Philadelphia in that year, but, when it adopted a platform that countenanced slavery, he and other Abolitionists withdrew. He had delivered a speech in advocacy of the repeal of the Fugitive-Slave Law and the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia shortly after taking his seat in the Senate in February, 1855. On the disruption of the American organization through the secession of himself and his friends, he took an active part in the formation of the Republican Party, with the programme of opposition to the extension of slavery. On 23 May, 1856, the morning after his colleague in the Senate, Charles Sumner, was assaulted by Preston S. Brooks, Mr. Wilson denounced the act as “brutal, murderous, and cowardly.” For this language he was challenged to a duel by Brooks; but he declined on the ground that the practice of duelling was barbarous and unlawful, at the same time announcing that he believed in the right of self-defence.

During the next four years he took part in all the important debates in the Senate, delivering elaborate speeches on the admission of Kansas, the Treasury-note Bill, the expenditures of the government, the Pacific Railroad project, and many other topics. His speeches bore the impress of practical, clear-sighted statesman ship, and if the grace of oratory and polished diction was wanting, they always commanded attention and respect. The congressional records during his long term of service in the Senate show that he was one of the most industrious and efficient members of that body, and that his name stands connected with nearly all the important acts and resolves. Strong in his convictions, he was fearless in their expression, but he was scrupulously careful in his statements, and the facts he adduced were never successfully disputed. In March, 1859, he made a notable reply to James
H. Hammond, of South Carolina, in defence of free labor, which was printed and widely circulated through the northern states. He had been continued in the Senate for a full term by an almost unanimous vote of the Massachusetts legislature in the preceding January. In March, 1861, he was made chairman of the committee on military affairs, of which he had been a member during the preceding four years. He induced Congress to authorize the enlistment of 500,000 volunteers at the beginning of hostilities between the states, and during the entire period of the war he remained at the head of the committee, and devised and carried measures of the first importance in regard to the organization of the army and the raising and equipment of troops, as well as attending to the many details that came before the committee. He had been connected with the state militia as major, colonel, and brigadier-general from 1840 till 1851, and in 1861 he raised the 22d Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, and marched to the field as its colonel, serving there as an aide to General George B. McClellan till the reassembling of Congress.

During the session of 1861-'2 he introduced the laws that abolished slavery in the District of Columbia, put an end to the “black code,” allowed the enrolment of blacks in the militia, and granted freedom to slaves who entered the service of the United States and to their families. During the civil war he made many patriotic speeches before popular assemblages. He took a prominent part in the legislation for the reduction of the army after the war and for the reconstruction of the southern state governments, advocating the policy of granting full political and civil rights to the emancipated slaves, joined with measures of conciliation toward the people who had lately borne arms against the United States government. He was continued as senator for the term that ended in March, 1871, and near its close was re-elected for six years more. He was nominated for the office of Vice-President of the United States in June, 1872, on the ticket with Ulysses S. Grant, and was elected in the following November, receiving 286 out of 354 electoral votes. On 3 March, 1873, he resigned his place on the floor of the Senate, of which he had been a member for eighteen years, in order to enter on his functions as president of that body. The same year he was stricken with paralysis, and continued infirm till his death, which was caused by apoplexy.

It is but just to say of Henry Wilson that with exceptional opportunities which a less honest statesman might have found for enriching himself at the government's expense, or of taking advantage of his knowledge of public affairs and the tendency of legislation upon matters of finance and business, he died at his post of duty, as he had lived, rich only in his integrity and self-respect. Among his many published speeches may be mentioned “Personalities and Aggressions of Mr. Butler” (1856); “Defence of the Republican Party” (1856); “Are Workingmen Slaves?” (1858); “The Pacific Railroad” (1859); and “The Death of Slavery is the Life of the Nation” (1864). He was the author of a volume entitled “History of the Anti-Slavery Measures of the Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth United States Congresses,” in which he relates the progress of the bills relating to slavery and cites the speeches of their friends and opponents (Boston, 1865); of a history of legislation on the army during the Civil War, with the title of “Military Measures of the United States Congress” (1866); of a small volume called “Testimonies of American Statesmen and Jurists to the Truths of Christianity,” being an address that he gave before the Young Men's Christian Association at Natick (1867); of a “History of the Reconstruction Measures of the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congresses, 1865-'8” (1868); of a series of articles on Edwin M. Stanton that were reprinted from a magazine, with those of Jeremiah S. Black, with the title of “A Contribution to History” (Easton, Pennsylvania, 1868); of a published oration on “The Republican and Democratic Parties” (Boston, 1868); and of a great work bearing the title of “History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America,” on which he labored indefatigably during his last illness, yet was not quite able to complete (3 vols., Boston , 1872-'5). See his “Life and Public Services,” which was written by his friend, Thomas Russell, and Reverend Elias Nason, who was his pastor for many years (1872). Congress directed to be printed a volume of “Obituary Addresses,” that were delivered in both houses, on 21 January, 1876 (Washington, 1876). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI. pp. 548-550.

Chapter: “Conclusion,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1878.

The proposed limits of this volume have been reached without taking up all the topics embraced within its original plan. It is to be hoped, however, that sufficient has been said to afford a measurably adequate idea of the progress of events developed by the " irrepressible conflict," and which have led to the present posture of affairs, — results already attained, and those the future will disclose as a natural consequence of the great struggle. Slavery has been traced from its small beginnings to its overshadowing greatness, — from the few seeds planted at Jamestown in 1620 to its woeful harvest covering the land, — from being a system of labor, in bad repute and dying out, or existing by sufferance when the Constitution was framed, to its becoming an "institution," dominating the government, and exerting a commanding if not a controlling influence in society, in the church, and in the commercial world. It has been shown, too, that in the plenitude of its power, impatient of the least restraint or check, anxious to guard against apprehended dangers arising from its local, restricted, and questionable character, it demanded new guaranties, and claimed that it should be no longer sectional but national, not only wandering everywhere at will, but everywhere protected by the aegis of the Constitution, and maintained by the arm of Federal authority. Such guaranties being too humiliating and wicked for any but the most craven to submit to, this Power appealed to arms, determined to rend what it could not rule, and break what it could not control with an unquestioned supremacy. In the war thus inaugurated slavery went down, not, however, for moral but military reasons, not because it was wrong but because it was unsafe, and because it could not continue and the Union endure. The war closed, the work of reconstruction began, the recusant States were brought back, and the flag again waves, if not over loyal hearts, at least as the symbol of restored nationality and authority, where it had been trailed in the dust, and treated with the greatest indignity and hate.

Claiming, as its title imports, only or mainly to give some account of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, this work has proposed nothing like a full and connected military or political history of the war, and of the process of re construction. Its purpose has been rather to seize upon those portions of such history, perhaps not always with the nicest discrimination, which would shed the clearest light upon the subject it was written to examine, elucidate, and improve, and yield the most profitable instruction.

The topics omitted for lack of space are subsidiary, however, and of less real importance than those for which room has been found. Necessary, perhaps, to the completeness of historic detail, they would be only the exponents of principles already enunciated and illustrated in other connections, examples of general facts already recognized and recorded, the carrying out of the new policy entered upon and made possible only by the giving up by Southern members of their seats in Congress, and their mad relinquishment of the power their occupation had given them. Henceforward, with human rights instead of human chattelhood the goal and guide, freedom instead of slavery the polestar of government, members, in their debates and in the details of legislation, whether effected or only attempted, could but exhibit a similarity of argument and appeal. On measures of the same general character and purpose friends and foes could hardly do otherwise than repeat themselves. Without, therefore, the excitement of pending issues, with the uncertainty and anxiety as to what the result would be, there is less of loss, now that excitement has passed and the results are known, in not having the precise details before the mind. Besides, it is almost among the marvels of history how easily some of the most radical legislation of those days was effected, — how noiselessly and almost without division slave-laws were revoked, the very mention of whose repeal before the war would have roused the nation, both North and South, to fierce excitement, been the signal of the wildest clamor, the most frantic expostulations, and the most terrible and defiant threats. One indeed could but stand amazed at the change, be silent with wonder, and almost question his own identity, or that of others, as he saw law after law repealed almost without remonstrance, and that mountain of unrighteous legislation, the crystallized product of the cruelty and fiendish ingenuity of generations, melting away, like icebergs in a summer sea and under the fervors of a tropical sun, in the presence of an aroused indignation, that had hitherto been trammelled by compromise and the sense of constitutional obligations, and suppressed by fear of offending Southern brethren and sacrificing Southern support, but now prepared to indicate its right to be heard, and to enforce the claims of justice and a common humanity.

Perhaps, however, the marvel will not appear so great, at least to those who comprehend the philosophy or rationale of the change. Through the secession of the States from the Union, and of their members from Congress, resulted two or three facts whose importance arid potency can hardly be overestimated. By it they not only removed shackles from Northern limbs, but they put shackles on their own, or they did that which was tantamount thereto. By leaving their places in Congress they disarmed themselves of the only weapons they had ever used with much effect, they abandoned the only tenable position from which they could defend their cherished system or assail its enemies. Everything else was against it, — argument, sentiment, reason, conscience, the laws of nature and the law of God, the claims of justice and the pleadings of humanity, the teachings of philosophy and the sweet voices of poetry, — all, all, as it could not well be otherwise, were arrayed against the "sum of all villanies." But their position in the government, with the three-fifths representation of their slaves, gave them political power, and long practice gave them great astuteness and adroitness in its use, while Northern selfishness, venality, lack of convictions, and what has been justly termed "careless citizenship," afforded a wide and fruitful field for their peculiar strategy. In their citizen ship were the hidings of the slaveholders' power, and by that sign alone they conquered. Had they been content therewith, nothing appears why this might not have continued for years, perhaps generations. For the fact, already stated, may be here repeated, that Mr. Lincoln, when elected to the Presidency, was in a minority of a million, and that on a platform that simply insisted on the non-extension of slavery, while it not only permitted but guaranteed its continuance where existing. And this, it is to be remembered, notwithstanding the light shed by the antislavery agitation of a generation and the faithful warnings thundered in the nation's ear from the Abolition pulpits and platforms of those days of earnest reasoning and appeal; aided, too, in their work of argument and alarm by the continued aggressions of the Slave Power, from the annexation of Texas to the Lecompton infamy, from the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act to the Dred Scott decision. Not ignoring the Divine agency and the possibilities within reach of the Divine arm, humanly speaking, it may be claimed there did not appear to man's finite vision during the summer and autumn of 1860 any reason for believing that the Slave Power could be dethroned, or dislodged from its seemingly impregnable position by any forces then at command or in view. The composition and doings of the Peace Congress; the Crittenden Compromise, with the narrow escape from its adoption, designed to eternize slavery and place it beyond the reach of repeal, however earnestly and largely the people might desire it; the action and tone of Congress during the closing months of Mr. Buchanan's administration, — all lead to the conclusion that had the Slave Power been content, it might have still remained in practical possession of the government.

But the peace the North so earnestly desired and eagerly sought was not to be the reward of such surrender and betrayal, nor were the slaveholders to be placated even by concessions so extreme. On a large scale and in view of the nations was to be exhibited another example of the haughty spirit that goes before a fall, of that judicial blindness that precedes destruction. By the Divine wisdom, made more resplendent by this dark background of human folly, God revealed anew how the wrath of man could be made to praise him, and how the remainder of wrath he could restrain. By a fatuity that hardly finds a parallel in human history, the slaveholders sacrificed slavery to save it, and in their frantic efforts to defend it against all possible danger, they increased those dangers immeasurably, abandoning, as they did, the only stronghold from which defence was possible. Placing in the hands of their antagonists the same weapons they themselves had hitherto used with so much effect, the rest became inevitable, and only a question of time. Slavery fallen, what was created for or enacted by it would very naturally follow. The tyrant dead, his satellites were allowed to die without regret; the system destroyed, its auxiliaries were allowed to pass away without protest. Laws like the Fugitive Slave Act and those forbidding the instruction of slaves fell naturally and necessarily into disuse and became practically repealed, because there were no longer slaves to be returned to bondage or slaves to be kept in enforced ignorance. There were enactments, too, in the interests of slavery which affected others than slaves, and bore heavily upon freemen themselves. Among them were the laws that confined the militia of the slaveholding States to white persons and authorized the barbarous custom of whipping. There, too, was the system of peonage in New Mexico, allowed to exist not so much as a relic of slavery as by sufferance, because a government committed to the grosser and more barbarous form of chattelhood, and dominated by the Slave Power, could hardly be expected to interfere with this milder system of "modified servitude inherited from Mexico," at least from any regard for the primal rights of man. Beside these, there were military organizations in the slaveholding States, Rebel in spirit and purpose, and composed mainly of men who had belonged to the armies of the Confederacy. Such organizations were justly deemed antagonistic to the Union, and little likely to promote continued peace. Though not so much the creatures of slavery as of treason, — and their menace was rather against the authority of the government than against the freedom of the individual, — like peonage in New Mexico and the other laws above mentioned, they owed their origin to slavery, were pervaded by its spirit and purpose, and could not with safety be allowed to exist. Though a bill early introduced by Mr. Wilson for their disbandment failed, a similar measure, moved as an amendment to an appropriation bill, was subsequently carried with little opposition.

On the same day that the above-named amendment was introduced into the Senate, Mr. Trumbull moved to amend the same appropriation bill by a provision prohibiting "whipping or maiming of the person," and it was carried without debate or division. With little more discussion or dissent an amendment to a bill for the temporary increase of the pay of the officers of the army, striking out the word "white" from the militia laws, was adopted.

When New Mexico became a Territory of the Union, there existed a system of peonage, by which when a Mexican owed a debt the creditor had a right to his labor until the debt was paid. The debtor became a domestic servant and practically a slave until its liquidation. There were about two thousand of this class, principally Indians, in the Territory. But a resolution abolishing the system was introduced by Mr. Wilson, and without much ado it was passed; thereby removing another of the relics of the slave system.

It was also proposed to give account of some attempted legislation, as a history of the times and an index of congressional thought and feeling, evinced by those who were striving to use aright the power for the moment in their hands, and thus secure the fruits of the war, guard against similar at tempts in the future, but especially protect the freedmen and the loyal men of the South, hated and oppressed because they had proved themselves true to the Union. A chapter was proposed giving a somewhat detailed account of attempts, beginning as early as the third day of the first session of the XXXIXth Congress, in December, 1865, to secure amendments of the Constitution to prevent the assumption of "Rebel debts," to define "citizenship," and to fix the "basis of representation." They all failed of enactment, and are mainly valuable as matters of historic record, to show how earnest and prompt were the Republican leaders to meet squarely the issues presented, and to provide, if possible, for the exigencies of the hour. This failure of enactment, with the character of the debates, revealed the uncertain and hesitating steps with which members moved along the untraveled path they were called to tread, and grappled with problems for which no precedents could be found; though the arguments urged and the reasons for action were substantially those employed in subsequent discussions, which resulted in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which were finally adopted, and which are now parts of the Constitution. Another subject, of which some account was to have been given, was the process by which the different border slave States, which, though believing in slavery, had not joined the Rebellion, were induced to accept emancipation and adapt their legislation to the new order of things. Of this it is to be said, however, that while those States had much in common, being affected by influences which were general and national, each had its own autonomy, its local history and struggle. While, therefore, the result attained was substantially the same in all, the processes by which it was reached varied materially, according to the different circumstances and leadership in these separate commonwealths. Much depended upon leadership. Always and everywhere true, at least, in greater or less degree, at this juncture of affairs the measures actually adopted by the many were the result largely, if not entirely, of the views and feelings of the few. When all were in a maze, knowing not what to do or expect, the natural leader's voice was listened for, and, if heard, generally heeded. When all were dazed by the resplendent events in progress, not knowing what the next act in the imposing drama was to be, though prepared for almost anything, it is not strange that men, dis trusting themselves, should have looked to others for counsel and guidance. Everything in confusion, the very foundations of society seemingly sliding from beneath their feet, the very stars in their courses appearing to fight against them, Southern men were willing to accept almost any solution that promised repose, and the salvation of anything from the general wreck around them. The voice of leaders at such a time had special potency, and the policy finally adopted unquestionably depended oftentimes far more on the influences to which these leaders chanced to be exposed than upon any well-considered opinions and purposes of the people themselves. This undoubtedly affords some solution of the fact, that while the three border slave States, Delaware, Maryland, and Kentucky, rejected the Fourteenth Amendment by a vote of three to one, the State of Missouri accepted it by a vote of one hundred and eleven to forty.

The details, therefore, of State action, not by any means uninstructive and devoid of local and special value, cannot be of that general and historic interest which inheres in the great and providential fact that those States were induced to move at all; that, without any great change of sentiment and feeling on the subject of slavery, they should adopt legislation recognizing its destruction, and adapted thereto. That, and not the special methods pursued in the separate States, is the significant and memorable fact. This recognition, however, did not carry with it anything like a hearty adoption of the Republican policy of which it formed a part. Thus a Democratic convention, held in Kentucky in 1866, resolved, "That we recognize the abolition of slavery as an accomplished fact, but earnestly assert that Kentucky has the right to regulate the political status of the Negroes within their territory." And even what was called a Union convention, a few months later, entered its protest against Negro suffrage, denying that the Thirteenth Amendment gave to Congress the power "to pass any law granting the right of suffrage to persons of African descent." In Maryland, in 1867, the legislature, while resolving that " we regard the abolishment of Negro slavery as a fact achieved, to which the peace and quiet of the country require that we should bow in submission," did "most solemnly and earnestly protest against any action by the Congress of the United States to assign the Negro a social status or endow him with the elective franchise." It also declared "that the loss of private property occasioned by the emancipation of slaves constitutes a valid claim upon the Federal government for compensation, and that the General Assembly ought to provide for ascertaining the extent of such loss, with a view of pressing the claim at an early day."

It was also proposed to give a somewhat detailed account of the trial of President Johnson on articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives, March 2, 1868. The original motion, made by Mr. Ashley of Ohio, January 7, 1867, charging him with "high crimes and misdemeanors" specified that "he has corruptly used the appointing power; that he has corruptly used the pardoning power; that he has corruptly used the veto; that he has corruptly disposed of public property of the United States; that he has corruptly interfered in elections, and committed acts, and conspired with others to commit acts, which, in contemplation of the Constitution, are high crimes and misdemeanors." The articles were read to the Senate sitting as Court of Impeachment, March 4, 1868. The trial proceeded till the 16th of May, when a vote was taken, thirty-five voting Guilty, and nineteen. Not Guilty; and judgment of acquittal was entered. Although a somewhat striking episode, and, for the time being, exciting a widespread interest, this trial cannot be regarded as having any very direct bearing on the history of slavery. That the President's course was utterly indefensible, that he proved himself false to his promises and loudly promulgated opinions as well as to the party which elected him, besides aggravating and greatly increasing the difficulties of reconstruction, is matter of record, and has been referred to in previous chapters of this volume. Himself a product of slavery, which was itself a " gigantic lie," how could he be true to a party or cause based on the grand verities enunciated in the Republican platform, and made the dominating forces of its history? And yet the trial itself was of local and temporary interest and importance, and hardly deserves a very large space or mention in a general history of the Slave Power.

Another chapter was to have been devoted to the presidential election of 1868. But, though occupying, no doubt, a commanding position in the work of reconstruction, — an important link in the chain of events now under review, its main significance and the chief contribution it affords for history appear in the exceedingly disloyal attitude in which it presents the Democratic party. Without even an attempt to conceal its purpose by words, — words that cost and often mean so little, and are indeed so often used by men to "disguise their thoughts" — it proclaimed not only its bitter hostility to the defenders of their country, but it’s too manifest sympathy with those who would destroy it. Both in the platform adopted and in the utterances of its candidates little short of the baldest treason was presented, not in mealy words, but in those most objurgatory and defiant. In its platform and in its arraignment of the Republican party, it spoke of " the unparalleled oppression and tyranny which have marked its career,” having subjected "ten States to military despotism and Negro supremacy," and of its substituting "secret star-chamber inquisitions for constitutional tribunals"; pronounced "the reconstruction acts (so called) of Congress, as such, as usurpations, and unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void"; and demanded "amnesty for all past political offences, and the regulation of the elective franchise in these States by their citizens." But the most significant event of the canvass was the letter of Frank P. Blair, the Democratic candidate for Vice-President. On the 30th of June he wrote what became the famous "Brodhead letter," in which he indulged in the most violent and inflammatory language and recommendations. Beside accusing the Republican party of the most heinous political offences, and suggesting the most violent remedies, he said unequivocally: "There is but one way to restore the government and the Constitution, and that is for the President elect to declare these acts null and void, compel the army to undo its usurpations at the South, disperse the carpet-bag State governments, and elect senators and Representatives." For this frank avowal of his treasonable and revolutionary opinions and purposes he was honored with a unanimous vote of the convention on the first ballot for the office of Vice-President, while it required twenty-three ballotings to secure the nomination of Horatio Seymour for the Presidency on the same electoral ticket; so well did the former represent the principles and purposes of the Democratic party. The Republican party simply reaffirmed the principles already enunciated in its platforms, proclaimed its inflexible purpose to maintain them in their entirety, and placed in nomination the distinguished soldier that had led the national forces to victory, with Schuyler Colfax for Vice-President. It triumphed by decisive majorities at the polls, and revealed the welcome fact that the people had not yet forgotten the lessons of the war, and were not quite ready to restore the defenders of the "lost cause” to seats they had so traitorously vacated for the destruction of the government. With this the record must close, though the conflict still rages, and the final issue remains in doubt. With no formal attempt to deduce the lessons this history was written to inculcate, — excepting a simple reference to what has been noted, the dangers of all compromises of moral principles, the prolific and pestiferous nature of national as well as individual sinning, the deteriorating and depressing influence of unrighteous laws on the morality of a people and the grave perils in a republic of "careless citizenship" and the presence of an unfaithful Church, which, instead of faithful testimony borne against wrong-doing, consents thereto and throws around it the sanctions of religion, — it only remains to notice briefly the present posture of affairs and the outlook disclosed thereby. That there have been great and marvellous changes none deny. The abolishment of slavery, the entire repeal or abrogation of the infamous slave-codes, the summary and sudden transformation of four million chattels personal into freemen and enfranchised citizens, with everything that legislation and constitutional amendments can do to maintain their freedom and protect them in its enjoyment, do certainly constitute great and memorable achievements that find few parallels in human history. All admit the greatness of the change, but men differ as to its extent. Nor are these differences mere matters of opinion, or of abstract theories simply, inconsequential and harmless, like views that neither demand nor lead to corresponding action. On the contrary, they enter largely into the purposes and policies of the hour. Thus large numbers, including the whole Democratic party, contend that emancipation and the constitutional amendments, even if accepted as accomplished facts, justify no further infringement on State prerogatives, and that the freed men, still amenable to State authority, must be remanded to the State governments alone for protection. Even so able and astute a statesman as Mr. Bingham, the reputed author of the Fourteenth Amendment, opposed the Civil Rights bill because, he said, in times of peace "justice is to be administered under the Constitution, according to the Constitution, and within the limitation of the Constitution."

The large majority of the Republicans, however, instructed by the sad history of Mr. Johnson's administration, deemed it both unsafe and unpardonable thus to remand the freedmen for protection to those whose tender mercies are cruel. In the pledge of the Proclamation of Emancipation to "maintain" the freedom it proclaimed they see something more than a word. Regarding it a solemn pledge to be fulfilled, they recognize the obligation to provide appropriate legislation therefor, though, as the debates have disclosed, not altogether clear that by so doing they have not transcended limits prescribed by both the letter and spirit of the Constitution. And it still remains an open question, as yet un settled by any general agreement, where State sovereignty ends and the Federal prerogative begins. Though, as Mr. Frelinghuysen said, in his opening speech on the Civil Rights bill, "the whole struggle in field and forum is between national sovereignty and State sovereignty, a struggle between United States citizenship and State citizenship, and the superiority of allegiance due to each, “opinions are as divergent as ever on the answer to be given. It still remains a question not yet answered by those with whom alone rests the authority, whether this is a nation of people or a mere federation of States.

But more serious than constitutional difficulties remain. For, granting that all constitutional differences had been composed, that all questions of government had been answered to mutual satisfaction, and that everything that law, organic or other, can do had been done, there remains the far more serious difficulty of constituency. As never before, the question of man's ability to govern himself stares the nation in the face, and arrests attention by its sudden and startling distinctness. The numbers are increasing who cannot repress their doubts nor silence their misgivings as they contemplate the new dangers that loom up not only in the distant, but in the more immediate future. Manhood suffrage, with all that is involved therein, the figures of the census-tables, and their startling revelations of growing illiteracy, especially in the late slaveholding States, where the large per cent of voters can neither read nor write the ballots they cast, are facts to excite the gravest apprehensions. The fact, too, that the South, though defeated, with "sullen intensity and relentless purpose" still bemoans and defends the "lost cause"; though accepting the destruction of slavery, still believes it to be the proper condition of an inferior race, and the corner-stone of the most desirable civilization; though accepting Negro enfranchisement because imposed by a superior force, still contends that this is a white man's government, in which the freedmen have no legitimate part, and from which they shall be excluded, even if violence and fraud be needful therefor, may well excite alarm in the most sanguine and hopeful. Conjoined with these is that alarming but correlated fact — the pregnant fault and the vulnerable heel of American politics — that good men can stand aloof from active participation in the work of the government, justify themselves in so doing, and lose little credit thereby. These facts and considerations invest with growing interest the subject, multiply questionings, and greatly deepen the solicitude of the thoughtful as they seek to forecast events, and, peering wistfully into the future, look with too little success for gleams of light or harbingers of better days.

Washington inculcated in his Farewell Address that intelligence and morality are "indispensable supports" of free institutions, and that all morality that is not the outgrowth of religious principle is of questionable worth. Nor is this the voice of the Father of his Country only. It is the generally accepted axiom of those who treat of republican institutions. And yet among the teachings of the census-tables are found such items as these. In the Southern States, of the white children alone sixty-one per cent are never seen at school; of the colored children "eighty-eight per cent are habitually absent." "Of every one hundred colored children in North Carolina ninety-one never enter a school. In Georgia ninety-five per cent receive no instruction. In Mississippi the per cent is ninety-six." "Ten years," says the United States Commissioner of Education, "without schools for children will insure an adult generation of ignorant citizens, who in losing the knowledge of will have lost the desire for letters." With truth he added: "Were an invading hostile army to threaten our frontiers the whole people would rise in arms to repel them; but these tables show the mustering of the hosts of a deadlier foe, a more relentless enemy, already within our borders and by our very firesides; a great army of ignorance growing ever stronger, denser, and more invincible."

The demon of slavery has indeed been exorcised and cast out of the body politic, but other evil spirits remain to torment, if not destroy. The same elements of character in the dominant race that not only rendered slavery endurable, but demanded it and made its protection, support, and conservation the condition precedent of all affiliation in church or state, still remain to be provided for, guarded against, or eliminated, in our efforts to maintain our free form of government. Perhaps, indeed, legislation has done its best or utmost, and all that now remains, or can be done, is to bring up the popular sentiment and character to its standard. Can it be done?

In January, 1871, the author appealed, through the pages of the "Atlantic Monthly," to the members of the Republican party to take a " new departure " and incorporate philanthropic and patriotic with political action; in other words, to engage individually and socially, and outside of party organization, in missionary work to prepare those made free to use intelligently and wisely the power their enfranchisement has given them. "The two great necessities," he said, "of the country at the present time are unification and education." In behalf of the former he said: "To make the people one in spirit and purpose, to remove everything calculated to engender and perpetuate strife or promote sectional animosities and interests, should be regarded, during the generation now entered upon, as the special work of the bravest philanthropy and of the purest and most enlarged statesmanship," To the latter, after urging the usual considerations in support of its essential necessity to the maintenance of free institutions, and considering some of the serious difficulties in the way of its effective pro motion, he invited the earnest and thoughtful attention of his countrymen. "I do not assume the office of instructor," he said, "nor do I propose to indicate what is to be done, or how this grave exigency is to be met. I only bespeak here a careful study of this great social and national problem, thus suddenly forced upon the Republic. Fully believing that the nation has never witnessed an hour, not even in the darkest night of the Rebellion, when there were presented more pressing claims for special effort, or when there were demanded of the patriotic, philanthropic, and pious men of thought, more time, effort, and personal sacrifice, I present the matter as second to no question now before the country."

But if there was in 1871 foundation for such solicitude and alarm, how much greater the occasion now. Then the governments in the reconstructed States were mainly, if not entirely, in the hands of men loyal not only to their country, but to the principles and policy of the Republican party. Not wholly without mistakes or unworthy members in their administrations, the tendency was upward, and the drift was in the right direction. The freedmen were cared for, a policy was inaugurated embracing, as already noted, with their active participation in the affairs of government, a preparation, aided largely by Northern philanthropy and Christian beneficence, educational and industrial, for their new and untried position. Inadequate, almost ludicrously so, to the great and manifold exigencies of the situation, except as the beginning and earnest of greater and more systematic efforts, they excited hopes and encouraged expectations for the new-formed commonwealths of the South. But all this is now changed. A reaction has taken place. The old regime is reinstated, and everything, save legal chattelhood, is to be restored. Race distinctions, class legislations, the dogmas that this is a white man's government, that the Negro belongs to an inferior race, that capital should control, if it does not own, labor, are now in the ascendant, and caste, if slavery may not be, is to be the "corner-stone" of Southern civilization. At least, this is the avowed purpose. "Labor," says, recently, a governor of one of these reconstructed States, "must be controlled by law. We may hold inviolate every law of the United States, and still so legislate upon our labor system as to retain our old plantation system, or, in lieu of that, a baronial system." Clothe these sentiments, uttered without rebuke or dissent from those he assumes to represent, with power, as they have been by restored Democratic ascendency in most of the Southern States, in several of the Northern, and in the popular branch of Congress, and the wonder ceases that education languishes, that the number of scholars diminishes, that school laws are repealed or rendered useless, and that Northern philanthropy is discouraged. But without some such agencies, whence can come the unification and education required?

The Christian, who traces God's hand in American history, recalls the many Divine interpositions therein recorded, gathers courage from the review, and, though the omens seem unpropitious, finds it hard to despair of the Republic. And yet even he whose trust is the strongest forgets not that God accomplishes his purposes by human instrumentalities, and that no faith, personal or national, is legitimate or of much avail that is not accompanied by corresponding works.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 3.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1878, 725-740.


Windom, William, 1827-1891, lawyer.  Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.  Served in U.S. Congress 1859-1869, U.S. Senate, 1870-1877.  (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 562; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 2, p. 383; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 23, p. 631; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WINDOM, William, senator, born in Belmont County, Ohio, 10 May, 1827. He received an academic education, studied law at Mount Vernon, Ohio, and was admitted to the bar in 1850. In 1852, he became prosecuting attorney for Knox County, but in 1855 he moved to Minnesota, and soon afterward he was chosen to Congress from that state as a Republican, serving from 1859 till 1869. In that body he served two terms as chairman of the committee on Indian affairs and also was at the head of the special committee to visit the western tribes in 1865, and of that on the conduct of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1867. In 1870, he was appointed to the U. S. Senate to fill the unexpired term of Daniel S. Norton, deceased, and he was subsequently chosen for the term that ended in 1877. He was re-elected for the one that closed in 1883, and resigned, in 1881 to enter the cabinet of President Garfield as Secretary of the Treasury, but retired on the accession of President Arthur in the same year, and was elected by the Minnesota legislature to serve the remainder of his term in the Senate. In that body Mr. Wisdom acted as chairman of the committees on appropriations, foreign affairs, and transportation. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 562.


Woodbridge, Frederick Enoch, 1819-1888, lawyer.  Vermont State Senator.  Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Vermont.  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.  Served in U.S. Congress December 1863 to March 1869. (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 600; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WOODBRIDGE,
Frederick Enoch, lawyer, born in Vergennes, Vermont, 29 Aug., 1819; died there, 26 April, 1888, after graduation at the University of Vermont in 1840, studied law under his father, Enoch D. Woodbridge, was admitted to the bar in 1842, and practised in his native town. He was long a member of the legislature, state auditor in 1850-'2, prosecuting attorney in 1854-'8, and many times mayor of his native city. In 1860-'2 he served in the state senate, of which he was president pro tempore in 1861. He was then elected to Congress as a Republican, served from 7 Dec., 1863, till 3 March, 1869, and was a member of the committees on the judiciary and private land-claims, and chairman of that on the pay of officials of Congress. He was a delegate to the Philadelphia loyalists' convention of 1866. Mr. Woodbridge engaged in railroad enterprises, and for several years was vice-president and active manager of the Rutland and Washington Railroad. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI. pp. 600.


Radical Republicans:

Bingham, John  H.


Brownlow, William Gannaway


Butler, Benjamin


Chandler, Zachariah


Creswell, John


Chase, Salmon P.


Davis, Henry Winter


Frémont, John C.


Garfield, James M.


Grant, Ulysses Simpson


Hamlin, Hannibal


Heckler, Fredrich


Joward, Jacob M.


Kelley, William D.


Lane, James H.


Morton, Oliver


Pomeroy, Samuel


Stevens, Thaddeus


Sumner, Charles


Upham, Daniel Phillips


Wade, Benjamin


Wilson, Henry