The New International Encyclopædia/Wheeler, William Almon

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WHEELER, William Almon (1819-87). An American legislator, Vice-President of the United States from 1877 to 1881. He was born at Malone, Franklin County, N. Y. He taught a district school for several seasons after completing the course at the public schools, and studied for two years at the University of Vermont. He then studied law at Malone, was admitted to practice, and met with considerable success in his profession. From 1847 to 1849 he was district attorney of Franklin County, and in 1850 and 1851 was a Whig member of the New York State Assembly. In 1851 he abandoned his law practice for banking, and was also interested in railroads. In 1857 he was chosen, as a Republican, to the State Senate, and was elected president pro tempore. In 1860 he was elected a member of the Thirty-seventh Congress. In 1867 he was a member of the New York Constitutional Convention, of which he was elected president. From 1809 until 1877 he was again a member of Congress, serving as chairman of the important committees on Commerce, the Pacific Railroads, and Southern Affairs, and taking a leading part in legislation affecting the reconstructed Southern States. In 1875-76, while chairman of the Committee on Southern Affairs, he originated and effected the compromise, known by his name, between the warring political factions in Louisiana. From 1877 to 1881, during the administration of President Hayes, he was Vice-President of the United States.