American Abolitionists and Antislavery Activists:
Conscience of the Nation

Updated August 19, 2018













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

Whig Party (Anti-Slavery) - Part 6


The Whig Party (anti-slavery), also called conscience whigs faction of the Whig political party some from Massachusetts that was opposed to slavery on moral grounds.  Was opposed to “Cotton Whigs,” who supported the cotton manufacturing industry in the North.  Separated from Whig party in 1848.  Conscience Whigs aided in the creation and founding of the Free Soil Party in 1848.  Charles Francis Adams was the Free Soil candidate for president in 1848. (References)




Return to Top of Page


Officers, Members and Supporters - Part 6

Tallmadge, James, Jr., 1778-1853, New York, lawyer, soldier, opponent of slavery.  U.S. Congressman.  Lieutenant Governor of New York.  Introduced legislation in House of Representatives to prohibit slavery in new state of Missouri in 1819.  It was called the Tallmadge Amendment.  Challenged Illinois right to statehood with state constitution permitting existence of slavery in the new state.  The Tallmadge Amendment to the Congressional Bill for Missouri Statehood read: “And approved, that the further introduction of slavery or involuntary servitude be prohibited, except for the punishment of crimes…”  The House of Representatives adopted the amendment; the U.S. Senate did not.  Tallmadge declared: “The interest, honor, and faith of the nation required it scrupulously to guard against slavery’s passing into a territory where they [Congress] have power to prevent its entrance.” (16 Con., 1 Sess., 1819-1820, II, p. 1201) Tallmadge further said: “If the western country cannot be settled without slaves, gladly would I prevent its settlement till time shall be no more.”

(Basker, 2005, pp. 318-321, 327, 349; Dumond, 1961, pp. 101-103, 106; Hammond, 2011, pp. 138, 150-151, 272; Mason, 2006, pp. 155, 177, 181, 184, 185, 191, 209; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 35, 129, 386, 471-472; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 26; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 285; Tallmadge Amendment, pp. 177-212; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 21, p. 281)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TALLMADGE, James,
lawyer, born in Stanford, Dutchess County, New York, 28 January, 1778; died in New York City, 29 September, 1853. His father, Colonel James (1744 to 1821), led a company of volunteers at the capture of General John Burgoyne. After graduation at Brown in 1798 the son studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practised several years in Poughkeepsie and New York, and also gave attention to agriculture, owning a farm in Dutchess County. For some time he was private secretary to Governor George Clinton, and during the war of 1812-'15 he commanded a company of home-guards in the defence of New York. He was elected a representative to Congress as a Democrat, and served from 1 December, 1817, till 3 March, 1819, but declined a re-election. In that body he defended General Andrew Jackson's course in the Seminole war, and introduced, as an amendment to the bill authorizing the people of Missouri to form a state organization, a proposition to exclude slavery from that state when admitted to the Union. In support of this amendment General Tallmadge delivered a powerful speech, 15 February, 1819, in opposition to the extension of slavery. This was widely circulated, and was translated into German. He was a delegate to the New York constitutional conventions of 1821 and 1846, a member of the state assembly in 1824, and delivered a speech on 5 August, 1824, on the bill to provide for the choice by the people of presidential electors. In 1825-'6 he was lieutenant-governor of New York, and while holding this office he delivered a speech at the reception of Lafayette in New York on 4 July, 1825. In 1836 he visited Russia, and aided in introducing into that country several American mechanical inventions, especially cotton-spinning machinery. From 1831 till 1850 he was president of the American institute, of which he was a founder. He also aided in establishing the University of the City of New York, which gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1838, and he was president of its council for many years. General Tallmadge was a leading exponent of the Whig doctrine of protection to American industry, and published numerous speeches and addresses which were directed to the encouragement of domestic production. He also delivered a eulogium at the memorial ceremonies of Lafayette by the corporation and citizens of New York, 26 June, 1834. General Tallmadge was an eloquent orator and vigorous writer. His only daughter was one of the most beautiful women in the country, and after her return from Russia, to which court she accompanied her father, married Philip S, Van Rensselaer, of Albany, third son of the patroon. Their only surviving son, James Tallmadge Van Rensselaer, is a well-known lawyer of New York City. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 26.


Tappan, Mason Weare, 1817-1886, lawyer, soldier.  U.S. Congressman, Free Soil Party, 1855-1861.  (Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 33-34)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TAPPAN, Mason Weare, law
yer, born in Newport, New Hampshire, 20 October, 1817; died in Bradford, New Hampshire, 24 October, 1886. His father, a well-known lawyer, settled in Bradford in 1818, and was a pioneer in the anti-slavery movement. The son was educated at Kimball Union Academy, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1841, and acquired a large practice. He was early identified with the Whig party, and afterward was a Free-Soiler and served in the legislature in 1853-'5. He was elected to Congress as a Free-Soiler, by a combination of the Whigs, Free-Soilers, Independent Democrats, and Americans, at the time of the breaking up of the two great parties, Whigs and Democrats. He served from 3 December, 1855, till 3 March, 1861, and was a member of the special committee of thirty-three on the rebellious states. On 5 February, 1861, when a report was submitted recommending that the provisions of the constitution should be obeyed rather than amended, he made a patriotic speech in support of the government. Mr. Tappan was one of the earliest to enlist in the volunteer army, and was colonel of the 1st New Hampshire Regiment from May till August, 1861. Afterward he resumed the practice of law, and held the office of attorney-general of the state for ten years preceding his death. He was a delegate to the Philadelphia Loyalists' convention of 1866, and presided over the New Hampshire Republican convention on 14 September, 1886. In the presidential election of 1872 he supported his life-long friend, Horace Greeley. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 33-34.


Taylor, John W., 1784-1854, abolitionist.  Nine term Democratic U.S. Congressman from New York, 1813-1833.  Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Proposed legislation in 1819 to prohibit slavery in Arkansas Territory.  Later organized the Whig and National Republican Parties.  Taylor said during a debate on slavery: “Our votes this day will determine whether the high destinies of this region, of these generations, shall be fulfilled, or whether we shall defeat them by permitting slavery, with all its baleful consequences, to inherit the wind.” (15 Cong., 2 Sess., 1818-1819, p. 1170)

(Basker, 2005, pp. 318, 319, 321, 324, 327, 349; Dumond, 1961, p. 104; Mabee, 1970, pp. 86, 191, 193, 199, 202, 204; Mason, 2006, pp. 146, 148, 181, 186; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 35, 36, 298; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 46; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 9, Pt. 2, p. 235)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

TAYLOR, John W
., speaker of the House of Representatives, born in Charlton, Saratoga County, New York, 20 March; 1784; died in Cleveland, Ohio, 8 September, 1854. He was graduated at Union in 1803, organized the Ballston Centre Academy in that year, studied law in Albany, was admitted to the bar in 1807, and practised in Ballston, becoming a justice of the peace in 1808, then state commissioner of loans, and in 1811-'12 a member of the legislature. He was elected to Congress as a Democrat and a supporter of the war with Great Britain, and was re-elected nine times in succession, serving altogether from 24 May, 1813, till 2 March, 1833. On 20 November, 1820; owing to the absence of Henry Clay, Taylor was chosen in his place as speaker, and served till the end of the second session, during which the Missouri compromise was passed. On the question of the admission of Missouri to the Union he delivered the first speech in Congress that plainly opposed the extension of slavery. He was again elected speaker on the organization of the 19th Congress, serving from 5 December, 1825, till 3 March, 1827. He was one of the organizers of the National Republican, and afterward of the Whig Party. After retiring from Congress he practised law at Ballston, and was a member of the state senate in 1840-'1 , but resigned in consequence of a paralytic stroke, and from 1843 till his death lived with a daughter in Cleveland. He was the orator of the Phi Beta Kappa society at Harvard in 1827, and frequently spoke in public on literary as well as on national topics. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 46.


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.


Thompson, Richard Wigginton

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

THOMPSON, Richard Wigginton, Secretary of the Navy, born in Culpeper County, Virginia, 9 June, 1809. He received a good education, and moved in 1831 to Kentucky, whence, after serving as a store-keeper's clerk in Louisville, he went to Lawrence County, Indiana. There he taught for a few months, and then returned to mercantile business, at the same time studying law at night. He was admitted to the bar in 1834, began to practise in Bedford, Indiana, and served in the lower house of the legislature in 1834-'6, and in the upper house in 1830-'8. He was for a short time president, pro tempore, of the state senate, and acting lieutenant-governor. He was a presidential elector on the Harrison ticket in 1840, zealously supporting General Harrison in public speeches and by his pen, served in Congress in 1841-'3, having been chosen as a Whig, and was a defeated candidate for elector on the Clay ticket in 1844. He served again in Congress in 1847-'9, declining a renomination, and also refused the Austrian mission, which was offered him by President Taylor, the recordership of the land-office, which Fillmore tendered him. He was offered a seat on the bench of the court of claims, which President Lincoln urged him to accept. He was again a presidential elector, on the Republican ticket, in 1864, and delegate to the National conventions of that party in 1868 and 1876. In the latter he nominated Oliver P. Morton for the presidency. In 1867-'9 he was judge of the 18th circuit of the state. On 12 March, 1877. Mr. Thompson entered President Hayes's cabinet as Secretary of the Navy, and he served nearly through the administration, resigning in 1881 to become chairman of the American Committee of the Panama Canal Company. He is also a director of the Panama Railroad. He has written many political platforms, and obtained a reputation for his ability in formulating party-principles. He has published "The Papacy and the Civil Power" (New York, 1876), and a " History of the Tariff" (Chicago, 1888).  Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 94.


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).


Upham, William, 1792-1853, Leicester, Massachusetts, lawyer, member of Vermont House of Representatives, Whig U.S. Senator, 1843-1853.  Opposed slavery.  He stated, “Slavery is a crime against humanity and a sore evil in the body politic.”  (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 213)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

UPHAM, William,
senator, born in Leicester,  Massachusetts, in August, 1792; died in Washington, D. C., 14 January, 1853. He moved with his father to Vermont in 1802, was educated at the State university, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1812, and began practice in Montpelier. In 1827-'8 he served in the legislature, was state's attorney for Washington County in 1829, and served again in the legislature in 1830. Elected a U. S. Senator as a Whig, he served from 4 December, 1843, until his sudden death by small-pox.  Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 213.


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 Rensslaer, Henry

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

VAN RENSSLAER, Henry, soldier, born in Albany, New York, in 1810; died in Cincinnati, Ohio, 23 March, 1864, was graduated at the U. S. Military Academy in 1831, but resigned from the army the next year and engaged in farming near Ogdensburg, New York. He was a member of Congress in 1841-'3, having been chosen as a Whig, and in 1855-'60 was president of mining companies. At the beginning of the Civil War he was appointed chief-of-staff to General Winfield Scott, with the rank of brigadier-general, and he became inspector-general with the rank of colonel on the retirement of General Scott, served in the Department of the Rappahannock in April and August, 1862. subsequently in the 3d Army Corps, and in the Department of the Ohio from 17 September until his death. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 252.


Vinton, Samuel Finley, 1792-1862, South Hadley, Massachusetts, Whig U.S. Congressman, attorney.  Aided President Lincoln in the process of emancipating slaves in the District of Columbia by Congress.  (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 303; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 284)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

VINTON, Samuel Finley, congressman, born in South Hadley, Massachusetts, 25 September, 1792; died in Washington, D. C., 11 May, 1862. He was graduated at Williams in 1814, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1816, and began to practise in Gallipolis, Ohio. He was chosen to Congress as a Whig, serving from 1 December, 1823, till 3 March, 1837, was a presidential elector on the Harrison ticket, and served again in Congress in 1843-'51. His last public service was in 1862, when he was appointed by President Lincoln to appraise the slaves that had been emancipated in the District of Columbia by act of Congress. He published numerous congressional and other speeches, including “Argument for Defendants in the Case of Virginia
vs. Garner and Others for an Alleged Abduction of Slaves” (1865). His daughter, Madeleine, married Admiral John A. Dahlgren.  Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 303.


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.


Ward, Marcus Lawrence

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WARD, Marcus Lawrence, governor of New Jersey, born in Newark, New Jersey, 9 November, 1812; died there, 25 April, 1884. He received a good education and engaged in mercantile pursuits. He was originally a Whig, aided in forming the Republican Party, and was a delegate to the National Republican Conventions in Chicago in 1860 and in Baltimore in 1864. During the Civil War he frequently visited the camps and battle-fields to alleviate suffering, and for his many services was called the Soldiers' Friend. He devised a system by which communication could be transmitted without cost from the soldier on the field to his family, and also established a free pension bureau, which he maintained at his personal expense. In recognition of his patriotism the government gave to the hospital that he equipped in Newark the name of the " U. S. Ward hospital," which after the war was converted into a home for disabled soldiers. In 1862 he was defeated as a candidate for governor of New Jersey, but he held this office in 1865-8. In 1866 he was chosen chairman of the National Republican Committee. He was afterward elected to Congress as a Republican, serving from 1 December, 1873, till 3 March, 1875. In the latter year he declined the office of Indian Commissioner. Governor Ward was an early member of the New Jersey Historical Society, of the Newark Library Association, and the New Jersey Art Union, aided education in the state, improved the condition of the state prison, and was an active philanthropist. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 352.


Washburn, Cadwallader Colden

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WASHBURN, Cadwallader Colden, lawyer, born in Livermore, Maine, 22 April, 1818; died in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, 14 May, 1882, worked on his father's farm in summer and attended the town school in winter until about 1835, when he went to Hallowell and was employed in a store. He also served in the post-office, and during the winter of 1838-'9 taught in Wiscasset. In the spring of 1839 he set out for the west and settled at Davenport, Iowa, where he joined the geological survey of that state under David Dale Owen. Toward the close of the year he entered the law-office of Joseph B. Wells, having previously studied under his uncle, Reuel Washburn, in Livermore, Maine, and was admitted to the bar on 29 March, 1842. In 1840 he was elected surveyor of the county of Rock Island, Illinois, the duties of which he performed while preparing for his profession. He moved to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, in 1842, and in 1844 entered into partnership with Cyrus Woodman, agent of the New England Land Company, but their law-practice gradually diminished as they paid greater attention to financial matters. They dealt largely in the entry of public lands for settlers and the location of Mexican land-warrants. In 1852 the firm established the Mineral Point Bank, which never suspended specie payments and during its existence had a high reputation. On the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, Washburn was chosen as a Whig to Congress, and served with re-elections from 3 December, 1855, till 3 March, 1861. He then declined a renomination, but was sent as a delegate from Wisconsin to the Peace Congress that was held in Philadelphia in 1861. At the beginning of the Civil War he raised the 2d Wisconsin Cavalry, and was commissioned its colonel, 10 October, 1861. His first service was under General Samuel R. Curtis in Arkansas. Among his acts at this period were the dislodging of a Confederate force that was preparing to obstruct the progress of the National Army at the crossing of the Tallahatchie, and the opening of the Yazoo pass; and he was conspicuous in the battle of Grand Coteau, where he saved the 4th Division, under General Stephen G. Burbridge, from annihilation by an overwhelming force of the enemy. He was commissioned brigadier on 16 July, 1862, and on 29 November, 1862, major-general of volunteers. He took part in the siege of Vicksburg, and on its surrender was given command of the 13th Corps and sent to the Department of the Gulf. On 29 November, 1863, he landed on the coast of Texas with 2,800 men and compelled the evacuation of Fort Esperanza, a bomb-proof work, which was cased with railroad iron, surrounded by a deep moat filled with water, manned by 1,000 men. and mounted ten guns. This fort was at Pass Cavallo, and guarded the entrance to Matagorda bay. In April, 1864. he was ordered to relieve General Stephen A. Hurlburt, in command at Memphis, of the district of West Tennessee. This post he held almost continuously until his resignation on 25 May, 1865. General Washburn was sent as a Republican from the 6th District of Wisconsin to Congress, and served with re-election from 4 March, 1867, till 3 March, 1871. In the autumn of 1871 he was elected governor of Wisconsin and held that office for the years, beginning 1 January, 1872. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the office in 1873, and afterward for the U. S. Senate. On retiring from office, he directed his attention to the care of his property. The timber lands that he had purchased soon after he settled in the state had become very valuable, and he operated extensively in lumber. In 1876 he erected an immense flouring-mill in Minneapolis, where first in this country was introduced the "patent process" and the Hungarian system. It was destroyed by an explosion in 1878, but he at once replaced it with one more capacious. He was also one of the largest owners of the water-power at St. Anthony Falls, and a heavy stock-holder in the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad. General Washburn was actively interested in the Wisconsin Historical Society, and was its president for several years. He founded, in connection with the State University of Wisconsin, the Washburn observatory, which, with its instruments, cost more than $50,000. The legislature of the state made him a life regent of the university, which in 1873 conferred upon him the degree of L.L. D. His country-house of Edgewood, near Madison, worth $20,000, he presented to the Dominican Sisters for use as a school for girls. In his will he bequeathed $50,000 to found a public library at La Crosse, and $375,000 for the establishment of an orphans' home in Minneapolis. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 371-372.


Washburn, Elihu Benjamin, 1816-1887, statesman, lawyer.  Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Congressman from December 1853 through march 1869.  Called “Father of the House.”  Voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery. (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 370-371; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 504; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 22, p. 750; Congressional Globe)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WASHBURN, Elihu Benjamin, statesman, born in Livermore, Maine, 23 September, 1816; died in Chicago, Illinois, 22 October, 1887, wrote his family name with a final “e.” He was educated at public schools, and, after working on his father's farm, entered the office of the “Christian Intelligencer” in Gardiner in 1833 as a printer's apprentice. The paper was discontinued a year later, and he was chosen to teach in the district school. In May, 1835, he entered the office of the “Kennebec Journal,” at Augusta, where he continued for a year, during which time he rose gradually until he became an assistant of the editor, and acquired his first knowledge of political life during the sessions of the state legislature. He then decided to study law, and entered Kent's Hill Seminary in 1836. After a year in that institution he began his professional studies in the office of John Otis in Hallowell, who, impressed by his diligence and ambition, aided him financially and took him into his own home to board. In March, 1839, he entered the law-school at Harvard, where among his class-mates were Richard H. Dana. Charles Devens, and William M. Evarts. He was admitted to the bar in 1840, and at once determined to establish himself in the west. Settling in Galena, Illinois, he there entered into law-partnership with Charles S. Hempstead, and, being a strong Whig, made speeches in behalf of that party, which had nominated William H. Harrison for the presidency. In 1844 he was a delegate to the Whig national convention in Baltimore that selected Henry Clay as its candidate, and on his return he visited that statesman in Washington. Meanwhile his business increased, and he was frequently called upon to practise in the supreme court of the state. In 1848 he was nominated for Congress in the Galena District, but was defeated by Colonel Edward D. Baker. In 1852, as a delegate to the National Whig Convention, he advocated the nomination of General Winfield Scott, and in the same year he was elected to congress, serving thereafter from 5 December, 1853, till 6 March, 1869. He soon gained an excellent reputation, and, on the election of Nathaniel P. Banks as speaker in 1855, was given the chairmanship of the committee on commerce, which he held for ten years. He was selected by the house to accompany William H. Seward, representing the Senate, to receive Abraham Lincoln when he arrived in Washington after his election. From the length of his continuous service he became recognized as the “Father of the House,” and in that capacity administered the oath as speaker to Schuyler Colfax three times, and to James G. Blaine once. From his continual habit of closely scrutinizing all demands that were made upon the treasury and persistently demanding that the finances of the government should be administered with the strictest economy, he acquired the name of the “Watch-dog of the Treasury.” He was a steadfast friend of Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War, and every promotion that the latter received was given either solely or in part upon the recommendation of Mr. Washburne. Subsequently he originated the bills that made General Grant lieutenant-general and general. Mr. Washburne was a member of the joint committee on reconstruction and chairman of the committee of the whole house in the matter of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. He opposed all grants of the public lands and all subsidies to railroad companies, and resisted with all his power what he called “the greatest legislative crime in history”—the bill that subordinated the first mortgage of the government on the Pacific Railroad to the mortgage of the railroad companies. He also opposed “log rolling” river and harbor bills, all extravagant appropriations for public buildings, all subsidies for steamship lines, and all undue renewals of patents. Among the important bills that he introduced was the one that provided for the establishment of national cemeteries. At the beginning of his administration President Grant appointed Mr. Washburne Secretary of State, which office he resigned soon afterward to become minister to France. This place he held during the Franco-Prussian war, and on the withdrawal of the German ambassador, the latter was ordered by Count Bismarck to turn over his archives to the American legation. At the request of Bismarck, and with the permission of the French minister of foreign affairs, he exercised his official influence with remarkable tact and skill for the protection of the Germans in Paris and acted as the representative of the various German states and other foreign governments. When the empire was overthrown, Mr. Washburne was the first foreign representative to recognize the new republic. He remained in Paris during the siege, and was at his post when the Commune ruled the City. He visited the venerable archbishop Darboy of Paris when he was hurried to prison, and succeeded in having the prelate moved to more comfortable quarters, but failed to prevent his murder. He retained the respect and good-will of the French during all the changes of government, and the emperor of Germany recognized his services by conferring upon him the Order of the Red Eagle. This he declined, owing to the provision of the U. S. constitution that prevented its acceptance, but on his resignation in 1877 the emperor sent him his life-size portrait, and he was similarly honored by Bismarck, Thiers, and Gambetta. On his return to this country he settled in Chicago, and in 1880 his name was brought forward as a candidate for the presidency, but he refused to have it presented to the convention. He was president of the Chicago historical society from November, 1884, till his death, and was frequently invited to lecture on his foreign experiences. He wrote a series of articles on that subject for “Scribner's Magazine,” which were expanded into “Recollections of a Minister to France, 1869-1877” (2 vols., New York, 1887). His collection of pictures, documents, and autographs he desired to be given to the city of Chicago, provided they should be exhibited free to the general public. Efforts are being made to secure the erection of a suitable building in Lincoln park for their exhibition. Mr. Washburne edited “History of the English Settlement in Edwards County, Illinois” (Chicago, 1882); and “The Edwards Papers” (1884). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 370-371.


Washburn, Israel

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WASHBURN, Israel, governor of Maine, born in Livermore, Maine, 6 June, 1813; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 12 May, 1883. He was descended from John Washburn, who was secretary of Plymouth colony in England and who came to this country in 1631 and settled in Duxbury, Massachusetts. His grandfather, Israel, served in the Revolutionary war and attained the rank of captain. He was repeatedly elected to the legislature, and was a member from Massachusetts of the convention which ratified the constitution of the United States. In 1806 Israel, son of the foregoing, moved to Maine, where he taught at first, but in 1808 settled at White's Landing (now Richmond), on Kennebec River, where he engaged in ship-building. He established a trading-post at Livermore, Maine, in 1809, at what is now called The Norlands, and soon afterward settled there. Israel, the subject of this sketch, was educated at public schools and by private tutors, and was admitted to the bar in October, 1834. Settling in Orono, Maine, he soon acquired a large practice, and in 1842-'3 was a member of the legislature. In 1850, he was sent to Congress, serving as a Whig from 1 December, 1851, to 1 January, 1861, when he resigned, having been chosen governor of Maine. Declining a re-election, he was appointed in 1863 by President Lincoln collector of customs at Portland, Maine, which office he held until 1877. He was president of the board of trustees of Tufts College, and was elected to the presidency of that institution in 1875, but declined. The degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by Tufts College in 1872. Governor Washburn was a member of historical and genealogical societies, and, in addition to many of his addresses and speeches, which have had a wide circulation, published "Notes, Historical. Descriptive, and Personal, of Livermore, Maine" (1874).  Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 370.


Weld, Theodore Dwight, 1803-1895, Cincinnati, Ohio, New York, NY, reformer, abolitionist leader, anti-slavery lobbyist.  Co-founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) in December 1833.  Manager, 1833-1835, and Corresponding Secretary, 1839-1840, of the Society.  Weld was a prominent leader in the abolitionist movement.  He converted many late leaders to the cause.  Among them were the Tappan brothers, Congressman Joshua R. Giddings, Edwin Stanton, Henry Ward Beecher and his wife, future author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriett Beecher Stowe.  While at Lane University, Weld led debates on slavery.  These were very controversial.  As a result, the university ended the debates.  This led to many of the students at Lane leaving in protest and going to Oberlin College.  Many of these students became Agents for the American Anti-Slavery Society.  Weld published American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839).  Also wrote The Bible Against Slavery (1839) and Slavery and the Internal Slave Trace in the United States (London, 1841).  In the 1840s, he worked with prominent anti-slavery Whig Congressmen.

(Barnes, 1933; Drake, 1950, pp. 138, 140, 158, 173; Dumond, 1961, pp. 161, 176, 180, 183, 185, 220, 240-241; Filler, 1960, pp. 32, 56, 67, 72, 102, 148, 156, 164, 172, 176, 206; Hammond, 2011, pp. 268, 273; Mabee, 1970, pp. 17, 33, 34, 38, 92, 93, 104, 146, 151, 152, 153, 187, 188, 191, 196, 348, 358; Pease, 1965, pp. 94-102; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 42, 46, 106, 321-323, 419, 486, 510-512; Sorin, 1971, pp. 42-43, 53, 60, 64, 67, 70n; Thomas, 1950; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 425; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, p. 625; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 681-682; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 22, p. 928; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, p. 318; Hinks, Peter P., & John R. McKivigan, Eds., Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition.  Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood, 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 740-741; Abzug, Robert H. Passionate Liberator: Theodore Dwight Weld and the Dilemma of Reform, New York, 1980; Dumond, Dwight L., ed., Letters of Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimké Weld and Sarah Grimké, 1822-144, 1965)


Welling, James Clarke

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WELLING, James Clarke, educator, born in Trenton, New Jersey, 14 July, 1825. He was graduated at Princeton in 1844, and, after studying law, renounced that profession in 1848 to become associate principal of the New York Collegiate School. In 1850 he was secured by Joseph Gales and William W. Seaton as literary editor of the " National Intelligencer" at Washington, and he was afterward associated with them in the political conduct of that journal, becoming charged in 1856 with its chief management, for which post he was qualified by his accurate scholarship, his facility in writing, and his judicial temperament. His editorship continued through the crisis of the Civil War. Adhering to the old-line Whigs as against the Republican and the Democratic Parties, he supported the Bell-Everett ticket for president and vice-president in 1860. Steadfastly resisting the disunion movement at the south in all its phases, he gave to the war for the Union his loyal support. He advocated Lincoln's proposition of emancipation with compensation to loyal owners, the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and its abolition throughout the Union by constitutional amendment; but he questioned the validity of the emancipation proclamation, and strenuously opposed the constitutionality of military commissions for the trial of citizens in loyal states, which practice was subsequently condemned by the Supreme Court. The discussions of the " Intelligencer during this period often took the form of elaborate papers on questions of constitutional or international law, and exercised an acknowledged influence on public opinion. Some of them have been republished, and are still cited in works of history and jurisprudence. Dr. Welling withdrew from journalism in 1865, and spent the following year travelling in Europe for health and study. He had been previously appointed a clerk of the U. S. Court of Claims, and served in that office till 1867, when he was chosen president of St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland. During his presidency the number of students advanced from 90 to 250. In 1868 he received the honorary degree of LL. D. from Columbian College, Washington. In 1870 he was appointed professor of belles-lettres in Princeton, but he resigned the post in the following year to accept the presidency of Columbian College (now University). Under his administration that institution has been enlarged, has received a new charter from Congress, erected a building in the heart of Washington (see illustration), added new professional schools, and laid the foundation of a free endowment. At the same time he has been connected with many literary, historical, and scientific societies. As president of the board of trustees of the Corcoran gallery of art since 1877 he has devoted much time to its development, visiting in 1887 the studios of the chief artists of Europe in its interest. In 1884 he was appointed a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, and soon afterward he was elected chairman of its executive committee. He is an active member of the Philosophical and Anthropological Societies of Washington, was chosen in 1884 president of the former, and has contributed valuable memoirs to the published proceedings of both bodies. He is president of the Copyright League of the District of Columbia. For many years he has been a contributor to periodicals. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 427-428.


Wheeler, William Almon

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WHEELER, William Almon, statesman, vice-president of the United States. Born in Malone, Franklin County, New York, 30 June, 1819; died there, 4 June, 1887. He studied at the University of Vermont for two years, but was compelled by the death of his father to leave college without being graduated. He then began the study of law under Asa Hascall in Malone, New York, was admitted to the bar in 1845, and succeeded Mr. Hascall as U. S. District Attorney of Franklin County, which post he held till 1849. At that time his political sympathies were with the Whig Party, by which he was chosen to the assembly in 1849, but in the early part of the Fremont canvass in 1856 he supported the newly formed Republican Party, remaining in it until his death. An affection of the throat compelled him to abandon the practice of law in 1851, and from that year till 1866 he was connected with a bank in Malone. He became president of the Northern New York Railroad Company about the same time, and for twelve years was supervisory manager of the line from Rouse's Point to Ogdensburg, New York. He was a member and President pro tempore of the state senate in 1858-'9, and was chosen to Congress in 1860 as a Republican, but, after serving one term, returned to his railroad and banking interests. He was president of the New York Constitutional Convention in 1867, returned to Congress in 1869, and served continuously till 1877. During that time he was chairman of the committees on the Pacific Railroad Company and commerce, a member of those on appropriations and southern affairs, and was the first in either house to cover his back-pay into the treasury, after the passage of the back-salary act. He was also the author of the famous "compromise" in the adjustment of the political disturbances in Louisiana, by which William Pitt Kellogg was recognized as governor, and the state legislature became Republican in the Senate and Democratic in the house. In 1876 he was nominated for the vice-presidency by the Republican National Convention, and he took his seat as presiding officer of the Senate in March, 1877. On the expiration of his term in 1881 he returned to Malone, and did not again enter public life. Mr. Wheeler was a man of most excellent character and of great liberality. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 455.


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 I860 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.


Whittlesay, Elisha, 1783-1863, Canfield, Ohio, lawyer, U.S. Congressman, American Colonization Society (ACS), Vice-President, 1836-41.  (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, pp. 495-496; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WHITTLESAY, Elisha,
lawyer, born in Washington, Connecticut, 19 October, 1783; died in Washington, D.C., 7 January, 1863. He was brought up on a farm, received an academical education, studied law, and on his admission to the bar began practice in Canfield, Ohio, in 1806. He served as an aide-de-camp during the war of 1812-'15, was for sixteen years prosecuting attorney of his district, a member of the Ohio state House of Representatives in 1820-'1, and served in Congress from Ohio by successive elections from 1 December, 1823, till 9 July, 1838, when he resigned. He was one of the founders of the Whig party, was appointed by President Harrison in 1841 auditor of the post-office department, and by President Taylor in 1849 first comptroller of the treasury, from which post he was removed by President Buchanan in 1857, but he was reappointed by President Lincoln in 1861, and held office till his death. In 1845 he was appointed general agent and director of the Washington national monument association, and contributed greatly to the success of that enterprise.  Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI. pp. 495-496.


Wilson, Henry, 1812-1875, abolitionist leader, statesman, U.S. Senator and Vice President of the U.S.  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.


Winthrop, Robert Charles

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

WINTHROP, Robert Charles, statesman, born in Boston, 12 May, 1809, was graduated at, Harvard in 1828, studied law with Daniel Webster, was admitted to the bar in 1831.  After a brief professional career he became active in local politics as a Henry Clay Whig. From 1834 till 1840 he was a member of the lower house of the Massachusetts legislature, of which he was chosen speaker in 1838, 1839, and 1840. In the last-named year, he was elected to Congress, where he served ten years with much distinction, maintaining the reputation he had already acquired as a ready debater and accomplished parliamentarian, and adding to it by a series of impressive speeches upon public questions, many of which are still consulted as authorities. The earliest resolution in favor of international arbitration by a commission of civilians was offered by him. In 1847-9 he was Speaker of the House, but he was defeated for a second term by a plurality of two, after a contest that lasted three weeks. In 1850, he was appointed by the governor of Massachusetts to Daniel Webster's seat in the U.S. Senate, when the latter became Secretary of State. His course on the slavery question was often distasteful to men of extreme opinions in both sections of the Union, and in 1851 he was defeated for election to the Senate by a coalition of Democrats and Free-Soilers, after a struggle of six weeks. In the same year, he was Whig candidate for governor of the state, and received a large plurality; but the constitution then required a majority, and the election was thrown into the legislature, where the same coalition defeated him. This occasioned a change in the state constitution, which now requires merely a plurality, but Mr. Winthrop declined to be a candidate again, and successively refused various other candidacies and appointments, preferring gradually to retire from political life and devote himself to literary, historical, and philanthropic occupations. From time to time, however, his voice was still heard in presidential elections, and he gave active and influential support to General Winfield Scott in 1852, to Millard Fillmore in 1856, to John Bell in 1860, and to General McClellan in 1864, when a speech of his at New London was the last, but not the least memorable, of his political addresses. Of the Boston provident association, he was the laborious president for twenty-five years, of the Massachusetts Historical Society for thirty years, of the Alumni of Harvard for eight years, besides serving as chairman of the overseers of the poor of Boston, and in many other posts of dignity and usefulness. He was the chosen counsellor of George Peabody in several of his munificent benefactions, and has been from the outset at the head of the latter's important trust for southern education. It is as the favorite orator of great historical anniversaries that Mr. Winthrop has long been chiefly associated in the popular mind, and he has uniformly received the commendation of the best judges, not merely for the scholarship and finish of these productions, but for the manifestation in them of a fervid eloquence that the weight of years has failed to quench. They may be found scattered through four volumes of "Addresses and Speeches." the first of which was published in 1852 and the last in 1886. Among the most admired of them have been an "Address on laying the Corner-Stone of the National Monument to Washington" in 1848,and one on the completion of that monument in 1885, the latter prepared at the request of Congress; an "Address to the Alumni of Harvard." in 1857: an "Oration on the 250th Anniversary of the Landing of the Pilgrims," in 1870; the " Boston Centennial Oration," 4 July, 1876; an address on unveiling the statue of Colonel Prescott on Bunker Hill, in 1881; and, in the same year, an oration on the hundredth anniversary of the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, delivered by invitation of Congress. He has been thought equally to excel in shorter and less formal utterances. Several speeches of his on Boston common during the Civil War excited much enthusiasm by their patriotic ring; while his brief tributes to John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, Edward Everett, Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, and many other eminent men with whom he had been associated at different periods, are models of graceful and discriminating eulogy. Besides the collected works already cited, he is the author of the "Life and Letters of John Winthrop" (2 vols., Boston, 1864), and ' Washington, Bowdoin. and Franklin " (1876). A portrait of him, in the capitol at Washington, presented by citizens of Massachusetts, commemorates at once his speakership and his Yorktown oration; while another, in the hall of the Massachusetts Historical Society, is a fit reminder of his services to New England history. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. VI, p. 576.

 




Return to Top of Page


References

(Blue, 2005, pp. 9, 52, 52n33, 53, 196, 198, 204; Drake, 1950, p. 137; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 20, 22, 32-34, 37, 40-41, 43, 47-49, 54, 61, 67, 72, 136; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 513-514; Wilson, 1872, pp. 123-128; Braver, Kinney J. Cotton versus Conscience: Massachusetts Whig Politics and Southwestern Expansion, 1843-1848. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1967; Formisano, Ronald P. The Transformation of Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties 1790’s-1840’s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983; O’Connor, Thomas. Lords of the Loom: The Cotton Whigs and the Coming of the Civil War. New York: Scribner’s, 1968)