WISE, Henry Alexander

WISE, Henry Alexander
Image courtesy of Library of Congress.
1806–1876

Biography

WISE, Henry Alexander, (father of John Sergeant Wise and Richard Alsop Wise and uncle of George Douglas Wise), a Representative from Virginia; born in Drummondtown, Accomack County, Va., December 3, 1806; was privately tutored until his twelfth year and then entered Margaret Academy, near Pungoteague, Accomack County; was graduated from Washington College, Pennsylvania, in 1825; studied law in Winchester, Va.; was admitted to the bar in 1828 and commenced practice in Nashville, Davidson County, Tenn.; returned to Virginia in 1830; held several local offices; elected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses, as a Whig to the Twenty-fifth through Twenty-seventh Congresses, and as a Democrat to the Twenty-eighth Congress and served from March 4, 1833, until his resignation on February 12, 1844; chairman, Committee on Naval Affairs (Twenty-seventh and Twenty-eighth Congresses); was appointed Minister to France in 1843, but was not confirmed; Minister to Brazil 1844-1847; delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1850; Governor of Virginia 1856-1860; delegate to the Virginia Convention, 1861; served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War; resumed the practice of law in Richmond, Henrico County, Va.; served on the commission to fix the boundary line between Virginia and Maryland; died in Richmond, Va., September 12, 1876; interment in Hollywood Cemetery.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Library of Virginia
Archives Branch

Richmond, VA
Papers: Gubernatorial papers (1856-1860), 9 cubic feet; executive letter book (1856-1860). Finding aid in repository.
Papers: 1824-1872. 1/2 cubic foot. Personal, business, and congressional papers and correspondence. Finding aid in repository.
Papers: ca. 1841-1860, 14 leaves. These letters are from Henry Alexander Wise to Fernando Wood, and one from Wise to his wife, discussing political issues of the day.
Papers: In the Collection of Miscellaneous Virginia Manuscripts, 1759-1865, 24 items. Other authors include Henry A. Wise.
Papers: In the In the John W. Gillet Papers, 1834-1872, 126 pages and 1 volume. Subjects include Henry A. Wise.

Boston Public Library

Boston, MA
Papers: 16 items.

College of William and Mary
Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, Swem Library

Williamsburg, VA
Papers: 1856-1859, 3 items. Letters with Henry A. Wise concerning United States politics (especially the 1856 presidential election), and his family. The letters contain his views on religion and liberty, and makes an appeal to James Buchanan on behalf of a candidate for appointed office.
Papers: In the Benjamin Stoddert Ewell Papers, ca. 1784-1934, approximately 1,503 items. Correspondents include Henry A. Wise.
Papers: In the Southall Family Papers, 1807-1904, approximately 23,572 items. Correspondents include Henry A. Wise.

Duke University
Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library

Durham, NC
Papers: 1833-1894, 34 items. The papers of Henry A. Wise contain correspondence, 1867-1876, with Wise's antipathy toward the Radicals, and Capen's work, "The History of Democracy"; letter, 1859, to David Hubbard of Alabama, giving Wise's views on slavery, popular sovereignty and Kansas, and the burning of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.; letter, 1853, to Wise from R.M.T. Hunter concerning their political disagreements and the selection of a cabinet by President Franklin Pierce; letter, 1836, by Wise commenting on political corruption, particularly in the U.S. House; letter, 1856, discussing the upcoming presidential election; and miscellaneous official papers and personal or business letters.
Papers: 1869, 2 items. A letter from R.R. Collier to H.A. Wise with an accompanying news clipping. The letter is regarding a letter in the clipping by Wyndham Robertson. The clipping deals with suffrage and its adoption by both the state of Virginia and the Congress of the U.S. and the proposed fifteenth amendment.

Indiana State Library

Indianapolis, IN
Papers: In the Richard Wigginton Thompson Papers, 1818-1900, 2 boxes. Essay by Thompson about Wise. Collection described in published guide. Finding aid in repository.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1840, 1 item. A letter from Nathan Sargent to Henry A. Wise written on June 23 inviting him to a Whig Party celebration of the Fourth of July in Philadelphia, Pa., and urging him to convince Henry Clay to attend also.
Papers: In the John W. Forney Papers, 1841-1881, 150 items. Correspondents include Henry Wise.
Papers: In the Jedediah Hotchkiss, Papers, ca. 1835-1908, 29.6 linear feet. Correspondents include Henry Wise.
Papers: In the Christopher Morgan Papers, 1840-1841, 54 items. Correspondents include Henry Alexander Wise.
Papers: In the Ambrose W. Thompson Papers, ca. 1847-1960, 26 linear feet. Correspondents include Henry Alexander Wise.
Papers: In the John Tyler Papers, 1691-1918, 1.8 linear feet. Correspondents include Henry Alexander Wise.
Papers: In the Wise Family Papers, ca. 1836-1928, 350 items. Correspondents include Henry Alexander Wise.

The Morgan Library
Literary and Historical Manuscripts

New York, NY
Papers: 1837, 1 item. A letter from Henry A. Wise to an unidentified recipient written on October 3, 1837. In the letter, Wise writes that he is sending his autograph.
Papers: 1841, 1 item. A letter from Henry A. Wise to Thomas Teackle written on January 9, 1841. In the letter, Wise testifies to his good character and hoping that he may receive the appointment as Navy Agent.
Papers: 1856, 1 item. A letter from Henry A. Wise to Robert Johnson written on September 24, 1856. In the letter, Wise writes concerning secession.
Papers: 1857, 1 item. A letter from Henry A. Wise to President Buchanan written on March 20, 1857. In the letter, Wise urges President Buchanan to retain Bowyer Miller of Fincastle, Virginia as United States District Attorney for Western Virginia.
Papers: 1857, 1 item. A letter from President James Buchanan to Henry A. Wise written on November 23, 1857. In the letter, President Buchanan writes concerning his presidential campaign and referring to Robert J. Walker, Gov. of Kansas.
Papers: 1859, 1 item. A letter from Henry A. Wise to Col. T.H. Ellis written on August 1, 1859. In the letter, Wise writes on business and social matters.
Papers: 1864, 1 item. A letter from John H. Winder to General H.A. Wise written on February 5, 1864. In the letter, Winder writes concerning the delivery of some prisoners.
Papers: 1864, 1 item. A letter from Beverly Holcombe Robertson to Brig. Gen. H.A. Wise written on February 6, 1864. In the letter, Robertson writes that he is sending him two privates under guard with the charges against them.

Newberry Library

Chicago, IL
Papers: 1838, 1 item. A letter from Lewis Ross to H.A. Wise written on June 18, 1838. In the letter, Ross encloses a letter to John Ross (lacking) and reporting on the progress of the Cherokee emigration. Ross notes that the emigrants were waiting at depots for land transportation and that 2,000 had already been sent by water. He comments that the Indians had "born their trials with the greatest fortitude" and that they were grateful for Wise's support of their rights.
Papers: 1858, 1 item. A letter from Tandy Walker to Hon. Henry Wise written on December 21, 1858. In the letter, Walker formally acknowledges on behalf of the Choctaw Nation, the receipt of a book contributed in exchange for a volume of the laws of the Nation.

Peabody Essex Museum

Salem, MA
Papers: 1836-1859, 0.25 linear foot. The collection of Henry Alexander Wise contains personal papers (1837-1857) containing accounts and correspondence with friends and fellow politicians, including letters discussing reaction to Wise's involvement (1838) as a second in a duel between two congressmen; political papers (1836-1859) containing correspondence of fellow politicians and constituents including suggestions concerning pro-slavery, information pertaining to the war between the Floridians and Indians (3rd Seminole War), and transcript (1852) of the trial of the Commonwealth of Virginia vs. William Rolly (relating to the murder of a freed slave); and miscellaneous papers (1836-1858) consisting of newspaper clippings and a poem.

Tennessee Sate Library and Archives

Nashville, TN
Papers: In the David Hubbard Papers, 1807-1871, 240 items. Correspondents include Henry A. Wise.
Papers: In the Martha De Bow Casey Collection, 1791-1933, 85 items. Correspondents include Henry A. Wise.
Papers: In the John P. Heiss Family Papers, 1835-1872, approximately 500 items. Correspondents include Henry A. Wise.

University of North Carolina
Southern Historical Collection

Chapel Hill, NC
Papers: 1833-1986, 43 items. Chiefly antebellum political correspondence and speeches of Henry A. Wise as a Whig and Democrat. Topics include the political feud, 1838, between William Jordan Graves (1805-1848) and Jonathan Cilley (1802- 1838) that resulted in a duel and ended in Cilley's death; and American politics. Also included are notes on daily life in Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian slave trade while Wise was U.S. Minister there, 1844-1847, and correspondence concerning U.S.-Brazilian foreign relations; Wise's account of his role in John Tyler's nomination for the vice-presidency; and a scrapbook on the Wise family.
Microfilm: In the Garnett and Wise Family Papers, 1764-1884, 67 items. Includes letters (1855) with extensive autobiographical material for a campaign biography, family letters, and other items.
Papers: In the John Beauchamp Jones Papers, 1794-1893, 184 items. Family correspondence including 5 volumes.

University of Virginia
Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: 1856, 1 item. A letter from Henry A. Wise to James C. Dobbin written on April 10, 1856. In the letter, Wise writes to Dobbin, Secretary of the Navy, recommending Henry D. Baines of Kanawah Co., Va., for a midshipman's warrant in the U.S. Navy.
Papers: 1856, 3 pages. A letter from D.H. Wood to Henry Alexander Wise written on August 20, 1856. In the letter, Wood discusses the phrases eulogizing George Washington: "First in war ..." With the aid of antiquarian Peter Force, he establishes the correct wording and traces the authorship to Henry Lee and not John Marshall.
Papers: 1859, 1 item. A letter from Henry Clay Dean to Henry Alexander Wise written on April 19, 1859. In the letter, Dean discusses his choice of Wise for the Democratic presidential nominee and his wish to publicize this choice.
Papers: In the Samuel Barron Papers, 1820-1899, 697 items. Correspondents include Henry A. Wise.
Papers: In the Kingston Galleries, Inc, Dealer Letters, 1846-1912, 4 items. Correspondents include Henry Alexander Wise.
Papers: In the Alexander H.H. Stuart Papers, ca. 1776-1878, approximately 660 items. Correspondents include Henry A. Wise.
Papers: In the William Booth Taliaferro Papers, 1823-1867, 18 items. Correspondents include Henry A. Wise.
Papers: In the Virginia Letters and Legal Opinion, 1776-1846, 10 items. Correspondents include Henry A. Wise.
Papers: In the Wise Family Papers, 1777-1983, approximately 24,315 items. Persons represented include Henry Alexander Wise.

Virginia Historical Society

Richmond, VA
Papers: In the Wise Family Papers, 1816-1898, 149 items. Persons represented include Henry Alexander Wise.

Virginia Military Institute
Archives

Lexington, VA
Papers: In the Wise Family Letters, 1813-1861, 14 items. Persons represented include Henry Alexander Wise.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Adkins, Edwin P. "Henry A. Wise in Sectional Politics, 1833-1860." Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, 1949.

Bear, James A., Jr., ed. "Henry A. Wise and the Campaign of 1873: Some Letters from the Papers of James Lawson Kemper." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 62 (July 1954): 320-42.

Child, Lydia Maria Francis. Correspondence between Lydia Maria Child and Gov. Wise and Mrs. Mason, of Virginia. Boston: The American Anti-slavery Society, 1860.

Goldfield, David R. "Marketing a Candidate: Henry A. Wise and the Art of Mass Politics." Virginia Cavalcade 26 (Summer 1976): 30-37.

Hambleton, James Pinkney. A biographical sketch of Henry A. Wise, with a history of the political campaign in Virginia in 1855. Richmond, Va.: J. W. Randolph, 1856.

Simpson, Craig M. A Good Southerner: The Life of Henry A.Wise of Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985.

Wise, Barton Haxall. The Life of Henry A. Wise of Virginia, 1806-1876. New York: Macmillan, 1899.

Wise, Henry Alexander. Address of Gen. Henry A. Wise, before the literary societies of Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia, June 17, 1873. Baltimore: J. D. Ehlers & Co., engravers and steam book and job printers, [1873].

------. The Lecompton question. Governor Wise's Tammany. [Richmond? 1858]

------. Opinions of Hon. Henry A. Wise, upon the conduct and character of James K. Polk, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, with other "Democratic" illustrations. [Washington: N.p., 1840].

------. [Remarks, on the bill to invorporate the subscribers to the fiscal bank of the United States. Washington: National Intelligencer Office, 1841]

------. Seven decades of the Union. The humanities and materialism, illustrated by a memoir of John Tyler, with reminiscences of some of his great cotemporaries. The transition state of this nation--its dangers and their remedy. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1876.

------. Speech of Mr. Wise, of Virginia, on his resolutions, on the subject of the President's protest to the Senate; the proper custody of the public money; the right of Congress to control the same, & co. Washington: Printed by Gales and Seaton, 1834.

------. Speech of Mr. Wise, (of Virginia,) on the causes of the loss of the Fortification bill of the last session. [N.p., 1836?]

Woodward, Isaiah A. "Delegates Faulkner, Brown and Wise and the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850 and 1851." West Virginia History 25 (January 1964): 130-37.

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