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Wise, Henry Alexander

WISE, HENRY ALEXANDER (1806-1876), American politician and soldier, was bom at Drummondtown (or Accomac), Accomack county, Virginia, on the 3rd of December 1806. He graduated from Washington (now Washington and Jefferson) College, Pennsylvania, in 1825, and began to practise law in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1828. He returned to Accomack county, Va., in 1830, and served in the National House of Representatives in 1833-1837 as an anti-nullification Democrat, but broke with the party on the withdrawal of the deposits from the United States Bank, and was re-elected to Congress in 1837, 1839 and 1841 as a Whig, and in 1843 as a Tyler Democrat. From 1844 to 1847 he was minister to Brazil. In 1850-1851 he was a member of the convention to revise the Virginia constitution, and advocated white manhood suffrage, internal improvements, and the abolition of imprisonment for debt. In 1855 he was elected governor of the state (1856-1860) as a Democrat. John Brown's raid occurred during his term, and Wise refused to reprieve Brown after sentence had been passed. He strongly opposed secession, but finally voted for the Virginia ordinance, was commissioned brigadier-general in the Confederate army and served throughout the war. He died at Richmond, Va., on the 12th of September 1876. He wrote Seven Decades of the Union 1700-1860 (1872).

His son, JOHN SERGEANT WISE (b. 1846), United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in 1881-1883, and a member of the National House of Representatives in 1883-1885, wrote The End of an Era (1899) and Recollections of Thirteen Presidents (1906).

See the Life of H. A. Wise, by his grandson, B. H. Wise (1899).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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