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Henry A. Wise (1806-1876) Papers

Henry A. Wise (1806-1876) Papers

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Open Finding Aid

HENRY A. WISE (1806-1876) PAPERS, 1836-1859





Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Wise, Henry A. (Henry Alexander), 1806-1876
Title:Henry A. Wise (1806-1876) Papers
Dates:1836/1859
Quantity:0.25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:The Henry A. Wise papers document the personal and political life of this member of the United States Congress, governor of Virginia, and Confederate general.
Collection Number:MSS 107

Series List


Scope and Content Note

The Henry A. Wise papers document the personal and political life of this member of the United States Congress, governor of Virginia, and Confederate general. Personal papers contain accounts and correspondence written to Wise from friends and fellow politicians. Of interest are letters discussing reaction to Wise's involvement in 1838 as a second in a duel between two congressmen. Political papers contain correspondence written to Wise from fellow politicians and citizens. Of note are citizens' suggestions concerning proslavery and a newspaper article and letter discussing the war between the Floridians and Indians down South. There is no correspondence from Wise. A court transcript (1852) describes the trial of the Commonwealth vs. William Rolly. Witnesses' accounts regarding the murder of a free Negro woman are presented. Miscellaneous papers include newspaper articles and a poem about death by an unknown author.


Biographical Sketch

Henry Alexander Wise was a member of the United States Congress, governor of Virginia, and Confederate general. Born in Drummond town, Virginia, in 1806, he was the son of Major John Wise and Sarah (Cropper) Wise.


Wise married his first wife Ann Jennings in October of 1828, his second wife Sarah Sargent in November 1840, and his third wife Mary Lyons in 1853. He had six children including John Sergeant and Richard Alsop, both of whom became members of Congress. One son died during the Civil War.


Graduating from Washington College where he studied law, Wise was admitted to the bar in Winchester, Virginia. In 1833, he was elected to Congress as a Jackson Democrat, having engaged during the campaign in a duel with his competitor, Richard Coke, who was slightly wounded. Later breaking his ties with Jackson over the bank question, Wise went over to the Whig Party. In Congress, he took a strong stand in favor of slavery. In 1843, Wise was appointed United States Minister to France, but was rejected by the Senate. He resigned from Congress in 1844 upon his appointment as United States Minister to Brazil, in which capacity he served from 1844 to 1847. In 1848 and 1852 he supported the Democratic candidates for president. Wise was elected governor of Virginia in 1855. Toward the end of his term, he dealt with the uprising at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, by abolitionist John Brown, whose execution on December 2, 1859 was one of t last acts of Wise's administration.


During the Civil War, Wise was appointed brigadier-general in the Confederate army. After the war he resumed his law practice and also wrote a book Seven Decades of the Union in 1872.


Wise died in Richmond, Virginia, on September 12, 1876, and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery, located in Richmond.


Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

United States. Congress. House
Dueling
Governors--Virginia
Lawyers
Politicians
Slavery
Trials--Murder
United States--Politics and government
Virginia

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.


Administrative Information

Copyright

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Henry A. Wise (1806-1876) Papers, MSS 107, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Provenance

The material was found in the collection.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lisa M. Petrucci, January 1984. Updated by Catherine Robertson, December 2014.


Related Material


Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. VI (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1889). pp. 579-580


Who Was Who in America. Historical volume 107-1896 (rev. ed.: Chicago: the A.N. Marquis Company, 1967). pp. 663.


Dictionary of American Biography. Volume XX (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936). pp. 423-425.


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