1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wright, Silas

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WRIGHT, SILAS (1795-1847), American political leader, was born at Amherst, Mass., on the 24th of May 1795. He graduated at Middlebury College, Vermont, in 1815, was admitted to the bar in 1819, and began practice at Canton, in northern New York. He was appointed surrogate of St Lawrence county in 1820, and was successively a member of the state Senate in 1824-1826, a member of the national House of Representatives in 1827-1829, comptroller of the state in 1829-1833, U.S. senator in 1833-1844, and governor of New York in 1844-1846. During his public life he had become a leader of the Democratic party in New York, Martin Van Buren being his closest associate. He was an influential member of the so-called “Albany Regency,” a group of Democrats in New York, including such men as J. A. Dix and W. L. Marcy, who for many years virtually controlled their party within the state. Wright's integrity in office was illustrated in 1845, when the “anti-rent troubles” (see New York) broke out and it seemed probable that the votes of the disaffected would decide the coming election. The governor asked and obtained from the legislature the power to suppress the disturbance by armed force, and put an end to what was really an insurrection. When the national Democratic party in 1844 nominated and elected James K. Polk to the presidency, instead of Martin Van Buren, Wright and the state organization took an attitude of armed neutrality towards the new administration. Renominated for governor in 1846, Wright was defeated, and the result was by many ascribed in part to the alleged hostility of the Polk administration. He died at Canton on the 27th of August 1847.

The best biography is that by J. D. Hammond, Life and Times of Silas Wright (Syracuse, N.Y., 1848), which was republished as vol. iii. of that author's Political History of New York.