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The Life and Public Services of Henry Wilson
Late Vice President of the United States by Rev. Elias Nason and Hon Thomas Russell (1876)


A STATESMAN eminent for patriotism and integrity is a national instructor. The record of his life, his services, and his opinions, is, to some extent, an exposition of the spirit and progress of the people whom he represents; and the people have the right to claim it, not only as a memorial of the past, but as an inspiration for the present, and a light for times to come.

Pre-eminently may this be asserted in regard to the distinguished man whose biography we now purpose to write.

Holding himself steady to his noble purposes, he was so prominent an actor in the remarkable events of the last twenty years, he was so identified with the life of the republic, that an account of his official career becomes, in some respects, the key to the history of the country for that period; while in the development of the principles of freedom which he made, in the consistent life he led, and in the counsel he imparted, we have our hopes in the permanency of popular government brightened, and our steps directed as we rise to national strength and grandeur.

In making a register of his life, the authors have had access to original sources of information, and have availed themselves of every aid within their reach for the verification of their statements as to matters of fact. They have endeavored to present opinions frankly and fairly, and to render this biography as complete as the allotted time and space would permit.

If this book, in spite of any errors, tends to do justice to the character and course of one of the representative men of the present times, to give dignity to labor, to inspire working-men with confidence in themselves, and stronger love for our country, the end for which it is written will be attained.


Chapter I.
The Colbaths. —Fannington People In 1812.—Mr. Winthrop Colbath and Wife. - Introduction of Son to Mrs. Guy's School. - School-Books of those Days.—Change of Residence.—Visit to Mrs. Eastrnan.—Testament. Hard Times In the Family. —Young Colbath goes to live with Mr. William Knights. —His Labors on the Farm. -Kindness of Mrs. Eastman. -Young Coibath's Love of flooks. — His readlng. — Faithfulness to his Employer. - His Frugality. - Freedom. - Compensation. - Change of Name. - Character. - Search for Labor. - Resolves to go to Natick and become a Shoe.maker

Chapter II.
Journey to Natick. -Visits Bunker Hill and the Office of "The North American Review." - The Town of Natick. - Shoemaking. - Lets himself to learn the Trade.—Makes Forty-seven Pairs and a half of Shoes without Sleep. - Forms a Debating Club. - Improves In Speaking. - Deacon Coolidge. - Health impaired. - Visits Washington In 1836. - Opposition to Slavery. — Williams's Slave-Pen. — His Own Account of his Visit. — Attends Academies In New Hampshire. - School-Teaching. - Studies. - Attends an Antislavery Convention at Concord. N.H.—Loss of Funds. — Returns to Natick. - Improvements in the Village.- He begins to manufacture Shoes. - Character as a Business-Man. - Amount of Business done.— His Regard to Principle

Chapter III.
The Rev. E. D. Moore: his Views, and Regard for Mr. Wilson.—The Rev. Samuel Hunt: his Influence.—Bible-Class.-- Presentation of a Watch.— Marriage. - Mrs. Wilson's Character. —Her Influence over her Husband.- Their house and Home.—Birth of a Son.—Mr. Wilson's Regard for Tern. perance. — Speech. — Candidate for General Court.—Defeated on the Fifteen-gallon Law. - Enters the Harrison Campaign. - General Enthusiasm of the People. —He makes his first Political Speech. —Addresses more than Sixty Audiences. - His Manner. - Elected to General Court. - Story of the Farmer. - His Industry. - This Views of Slavery. - Advocates Repeal of Law against Intermarriage of Blacks and Whites. - Defeated as Candidate for Senate—Elected to that Body the Next Year, and for 1845. -Contends for the Right of Colored Children to a Seat In the Public Schools. —Remarks thereon. -Advance in Public Sentiment.—Mr. Wilson's Mission

Chapter IV.
ills Military Turn of Mind, -Reading. -Views of War. —Views of the Militia System. —Election as Major, 1543.—Colonel and Brigadier-General, L846. - Regard for Discipline. - Popularity with Soldiers. - Speech in the Senate. - Peace and War. - Preparations for more Important Duties. - His Regard for Temperance. - Speech at Natick, 1845.— A Citizen at Home. - Appreciated by his Townsmen

Chapter V.
Southern Efforts to annex Texas to the United States.— Mr. Wilson's Amendment to Resolutions against Annexation in the Senate adopted.—Cali for a Convention. —Opposed by Whigs.—Held in Faneun Hail, Jan. 27.—Address to the People.—The True Reformer. —Meeting at Waltham.—Mr. Wilson's Views. — Convention at Concord, 1845.—Mr. Hunt.—Meeting at Cambridge, Oct. 21.—Address of Mr. Wllson. — Persistent Efforts—Carries Petitions to Washington. -Refuses to take 'Wine with Mr. Adams. - State Representative in 1846.— Introduces Resolution on Slavery. - Eloquent Speech thereon. —Mr. Garrison's View of it.—Regard for the Constitution

Chapter VI.
Regard of the People—Delegate to the National Convention.—Withdraws from that Body.—Origin of the Free-soil Party.—" Boston Republican." —Editor of—Its Principles and Influence. —Chairman of Free-soil State Committee.—Member of the house, 1850.—Mr. Webster's 7th-of-March Speech—The Coalition.—Election of Mr. Sumner to the United-States Senate, 1851.—Mr. Sumner's Letter.—Mr. Wilson made Chairman of the Senate that Year—Address on taking the Chalr.—A Contrast.—" The Liberator."— Harvard University.—Thanks of the Senate, and Closing Address. —Delegate to Pittsburg. — Candidate for Congress, 1852.—Chairman of the Senate, 1S5'2.—Ills Course in the Senate.— Welcome to Kossuth.—Sympathy between them.— His Punctuality. —Gold Watch

Chapter VII.
A Friend of his Pastor,— hard Study.—Temperance.—Books and Authors. —The Source of Civil Liberty. —No "Back-Blows."—Cheerful Spirit.— Home. - Gift to his Minister. - Revision of the State Constitution. - Elected by Natick and Berlin. - Punctuality. - His Course. - how he looked at a Legal Question. - Chairman pro tern. - Speech in Favor of Colored Troops. —On the Death of Mr. Gourgas of Concord.—On the Course of Harvard College in Respect to Prof. Bowen. - Address to his Constituents.- Reason for Defeat of the Amendments. - Cost and Influence of the Convention

Chapter VIII.
Candidate for Governor. - Defeated. - Not disheartened. - Visit to Washington. — His Grand Idea. — Ready to surrender Party for Principle.—Convention at Worcester, 1854. - Again nominated for Governor, and defeated. - State goes into the American Organization. - His Views. - Southern Domination. - Antislavery Sentiment increasing. Sumner. - If 'Wilson nominated United-States Senator. - His Firmness. - His Election. - United. States Senate-Chamber. - His Fitness for the Place. - His Personal Appearance.—His First Speech. —Letter from Mr. Ashmun.—Extract from Mr. Parker's Sermon, and Letter from the Same

Chapter IX.
Defection of the American Party. - Southern Influence. Resolution. Interesting Letter. - .Address in New York. - Antislavery Cause in Peril. - Brattieborough, Vt.—Delegate to American National Council, June, 1855. —Stand for Freedom—Protest—Defiant Speech. — Letter from Amasa Walker. - Remarks of" The Tribune." - Activity in forming a New Party. —Speech at Springfield. - Twenty-one-Years Amendment. -Opposes It. - Friendly to Foreigners. - Letter to Francis Gillette. - Catholic Spirit

Chapter X.
Troubles in Kansas. - Slave and Free Labor Antagonistic. - Reply to Mr. Toucey. - Mr. Douglas. - Assault on Mr. Sumner.— Aided by Mr. Wilson. —Scene In the Senate-Chamber. — Challenge of P.8. Brooks. — Reply. — How received. — Letter of Mr. Harte.—Reply to Mr. Butler of South Carolina. - Letter from 'Whittier. -Labors in the Senate.-Views on Slavery.—Speech July 9.—Musket-Bail.—Speech against sending Military Supplies to subjugate Freemen in Kansas

Chapter XI.
Philadelphia Convention, 1856.—Platform.—The Campaign.—Sons of New Hampshire. —South for the Dissolution of the Union.—Kansas and Nebraska —Speech on the Republican Party.—Opening of the Grand-Trunk Railroad. — Speech at Montreal. — Activity in the United-States Senate.— Measures proposed. - Speech on the Leeompton Constitution. - Letter from the Hen. George T. Bigelow; also from the Hon. G. R. Russell

Chapter XII.
Character of his Reply to Mr. Hammond.—"Cotton is King."—Southern Institutions. — A Contrast. — Social Condition of the North and South. — Mud-sills.—Free Labor of the North. —Conclusion of his Argument.— Reply to Mr. Uwlu's Challenge.— The Affair amicably adjusted

Chapter XIII.
Re-elected by a Large Majority. -Reasons for it. —ills Industry. —Patronage. -Advocates Central Route for the Pacific Railroad. -Extract from his Speech. - A Radical Southern Party. - A Personal Interview. - ills Course. -Temperance Meeting. -Printers' Banquet.-Paul Morphy. - Fourth of July at Lawrence. - His Address. - Ills Course in respect to the Raid of John Brown.— Meeting at Natick.—Reply to Mr. Iverson.—Vote of Thanks by the General Court. -Speech on the Slave-Trade

Chapter XIV.
Mr. Lincoln nominated.—Mr. Wilson's Energy In his Support—Speech at Myrick's.—East Boston.—Free and Slave Labor—Letter. of Mr. Packard. —Secession of the Southern States.—Mr. Wilson Fearless.— Speech In the Senate. -Labors in the Military Committee with Mr. Davis. - He foresees a tremendous Contest. —His Position. — Great Speech on Mr. Critten. den's Compromise. - Letters from Mr. Whittier, Mrs. L. M. Child, Gerrit Smith, Amasa Walker. - Vote of Thanks

Chapter XV.
The Beginning of Hostilities. - His Advice to the President. —Activity. - Labors as Chairman of Military Committee. — Bills introduced by him.— Letter from Gen. Scott. - The Soldier's Friend. - Battle of Bull Run, July 21.—He raises nearly Twenty-three hundred Men. - Made Colonel of the Twenty-second Regiment.—Goes with it to Washington—Character of this Regiment.— Aide-de-camp to Gen. McClellan. —Letter of Gen. Williams. - Receives no Compensation for Service.- Unfounded Charge of Mr. Russell.-Mr. Wilson's Letter.- His Record. - Rebellion strengthens.- Character of the Republican Leaders. - Measures introduced and carried through Congress by Mr. Wilson.—Letter of Mr. Cavneron.—Emancipation in the District of Columbia.—An Early Aspiration realized. —Letters from Lewis Tappan and John Jay

Chapter XVI.
The Conflicting Powers. - The Army and Congress. - Position of Mr. Wilson. —Bill for Sutlers.—Signal Service.—Pay to Officers—Medical Department. —Volunteers. - Seniority of Commanders. -Storekeepers. - District of Columbia—Medals—Pay in Advance.—Abolition in District of Columbia. - The Confederates. - Militia Bill.- President's Proclamation.- Rosecrans. - Bureau of Emancipation. -Enrolment Bill.-Remarks.- Colored Youth.-Wounded Soldiers. -Corps of Engineers. -Letter of Dr. Silas Reed.—Fall of Vicksburg.—Conference with the Cabinet.—Battle of Gettysburg. —Gen. Grant.—Address before the Antislavery Society.— Thanks to the Army. — Bounties. — Ambulances. —Colored Soldiers Free. -Thirteenth Amendment. - Speech. - Appropriation Bill. - Wives and Children of Colored Soldiers Free.—Fourth of July at Washington. — Gen. Grant.— "New-Bedford Mercury. - A Letter

Chapter XVII.
Mr. Wilson returned to the United States Senate. - Notice of Election by "The Boston Journal." - Freedmen's Bureau. - Military Appointments. - Visit to Fort Sumter—Death of Mr. Lincoln.—Mr. Wilson's View of him.— Speech at Washington July 4.— Mayor Wallach. - Advice to the Colored People. - The Course of the Executive. - Silver Wedding. - Description of. - Articles presented. - Respect of his Townsmen. - Record of Anti. slavery Measures ln Congress. — Character of the Work.—Opinion of "'the Atlantic Monthly."—Summary of the Work—Slaves used for Military Purposes made Free. -Fugitives. -District of Columbia.—" Black - Witnesses. - Schools. - Railroads. - Territories Free. - Emancipation. —Captives of War.—Rebel Claimants of Slaves. —Hayti and Liberia.— Slaves in Military Service. - Fugitive-slave Acts. - Slave-Trade. - Courts, Testimony in. - Reconstruction. - United-States Mail. - Wives and Children of Slaves. —Bureau of Freedmen.—Amendment of the Constitution. - The Negro a Citizen.— Colored People indebted to the Labors of Mr. Wilson

Chapter XVIII.
Course of the President. —Reconstruction Difficult. —Mr. Wilson's View.— No Desire to degrade the South. -Bill to maintain the Rights of the Freed. men. -Supports Mr. Trumbull's Bill to enlarge the Freedmen's Bureau. - What he means by Equadity.—Honorable Sentiments. —Joint Resolution for disbanding Military Organizations. - Speech on the Resolution of Mr. Stevens against the Admission of Southern Representation. -The Nature of the Struggle.—Condition of Freedmen.—Mistake of the President.— Gen. Grant.—Legislative Labors.—Speech In Boston. —Natick.—Defence. Son of the President. —Massachusetts. - Congress a Co-ordinate Branch of the Government. —Tour through the West. - Speech at Chicago. - Elective Franchise in the District of Columbia. —Corporal Punishment.— Buying and selling Votes.—Address on Religion—Testimony of Statesmen to Christianity.-An Admonition. -Death of his Son. -Monument. -Address at Quincy.-Good Advice. - His Work on Military Legislation In Congress. - Its Character

Chapter XIX.
Peonage.—Whipping.—Colored Persons In the Militia.—Bill to facilitate Restoration. - Speech thereon. - Feelings toward the Rebels. - Temperance In Congress. - lion. Richard Yates. - Reception at Tremont Temple. - Remarks of W. B. Spooner. - Mr. 'Wilson's Address. - Mr. Yates Is. - Liquors banished from the Capitol. —Enforcement of the Law. —Visit to the South. —At Richmond, Va.—Petersburg.—Animosity of Goldsborough, N.C.Reception at Wilmington. - Mr. Robinson. - At Charleston May 2. - New Orleans.—Gen. Longstreet's Opinion—Declines going to Europe.— Bill vacating Offices. - Appointing Civilians incorporated in Mr. Trumbun's Bill. —Remarks on its Passage. —President of Convention at Worcester. - Speech.—Gen. Sheridan.—Hopeful View of the Republic.—Speech at Marlborough. - Effects of Intemperance. - Who are Weak? - Strong Appeal—Speech at Bangor.—Gen. Grant -Speech In Faneull Hall.—Friend of Working-Men. - Reconstruction Measures. - Style and Subject-Matter. —A Wedding

Chapter XX.
Mrs. Wilson's Death and Character. - Mrs. Ames's Opinion. —Visit to Europe. —American Missionary Society. —Rise and Fall of the Slave-Power Extract. - Nomination as Vice-President. - Letter of Acceptance. - Address at Boston. - Regard for the Memory of Mrs. Wilson. - Visit to North Carolina and Virginia. - Regret for One Expression. - American Party and Credit Mobilier. —Mr. Sumner's Course regretted. —Election as Vice-President. - His Poverty

Chapter XXI.
Mr. Wilson presiding over the Senate. - His Industry. - Declension of his Health. - His Retirement from Labor. - Visit to New Hampshire. - Letter to "The Springfield Republican." - The Bounty Bill. - Death of Charles Sumner. - Health Improving.— The Second Volume of "The Rise and Fall of the Slave-Power in America." - his Back Pay as Senator. - his Opinion of President Grant. - His Tour to the South-west. - Summer at Saratoga. - The Republican Convention at Worcester. —His Last Sickness and Death. - The Autopsy

Chapter XXII.
The National Grief at the Death of Mr. Wilson. - President Grant's Order. - honors paid to the Remains at Washington. - Dr. Rankin's Address. - The Baltimore Fifth Regiment. —Honors at Philadelphia; New York.— Announcement of Coy. Gaston. - Remarks of Mr. Stebbins; of Judge Clark. — Reception of the News at Natick. — Meeting In Faneuil Hall.— Address of Gen. Banks. —The Remains in Doric Hail. -Memorial Services In the House of Representatives.—Dr. Manning's Eulogy..— Services at Natick. —Address of the Revs. E. Dowse and F. N. Peloubet. -The Burial at Doll Park Cemetery.—Mr. Wilson's Will. —His Character.

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