The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Wright, Silas
WRIGHT, Silas, an American statesman, born in Amherst, Mass., May 24, 1795, died in Canton, St. Lawrence co., N. Y., Aug. 27, 1847. He graduated at Middlebury college in 1815, was admitted to the bar in 1819, and settled at Canton. In 1820 he was appointed surrogate. In 1823 he was elected a member of the state senate as a democrat. Early in 1827 he made a report to the senate, in which he developed the financial policy which he subsequently enforced as a political measure while governor. He was elected a member of the twentieth congress, and there advocated the protective tariff of 1828, although subsequently he became an advocate of a tariff for revenue only. He also voted for the appointment of a committee to inquire into the expediency of abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia. He was controller of New York from 1829 to 1833, when he was chosen as the successor of Mr. Marcy for four years in the United States senate, of which he remained a member by reëlection for nearly 12 years. He supported Mr. Clay's compromise bill in 1833; defended President Jackson's removal of the deposits; opposed the recharter of the United States bank; voted against Mr. Calhoun's motion not to receive a petition for abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, and in favor of excluding from the mails all “printed matter calculated to excite the prejudices of the southern states in regard to the question of slavery;” opposed the distribution among the states of the surplus federal revenues; supported the independent treasury scheme of President Van Buren; voted in 1838 against the resolution offered by Mr. Rives of Virginia, declaring that the citizens of the states had no right to interfere with the question of slavery in the federal territories, and that the people of those territories had the exclusive right to settle that question for themselves; opposed the bill requiring the states to choose members of congress by single districts; and voted for the tariff of 1842 and against the treaty for the annexation of Texas. In 1844 he was elected governor of New York. He opposed in 1845 the calling of a convention to revise the state constitution, preferring the adoption of amendments then proposed; vetoed a bill appropriating money for works on the canals; and recommended legislation against the anti-renters, and on occasion of disturbances produced by them in Delaware co. in 1845 proclaimed the county to be in a state of insurrection and called out a military force. He was renominated in 1846, but was defeated, and returned to his farm in Canton. He was plain in his speech and habits.