The New International Encyclopædia/Wise, Henry Alexander

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WISE, Henry Alexander (1806-76). An American political leader, born at Drummondtown, Accomac County, Va., December 3, 1806. He graduated at Washington College, Pa., in 1825, was admitted to the bar in 1828, and settled in Nashville, Tenn., the same year, but returned to Accomac County in 1830. He was elected to Congress in 1832 as a Jacksonian Democrat and was twice reëlected. On the question of the rechartering of the United States Bank he broke with the Jackson Administration, and became a Whig, but was sustained by his constituents. After his first election in 1832 he fought a duel with his competitor for the seat in Congress. Wise was active in securing the nomination of John Tyler as Vice-President in 1840. He declined the appointment as Secretary of the Navy under Tyler, but from 1844 to 1847 was Minister to Brazil. After his return he identified himself with the Democratic Party, and in 1855, after a remarkable campaign, he was elected Governor of Virginia over the Know-Nothing candidate. During his administration the John Brown raid occurred, and one of the last acts of his term was the signing of Brown's death warrant. Wise was a member of the Virginia secession convention of 1861, and opposed immediate secession. Upon the withdrawal of the State from the Union, however, he joined the Confederate Army as brigadier-general and afterwards was promoted to the rank of major-general. He took part in the campaigns of western Virginia, commanded at Roanoke Island, and was present at Appomattox. After the war he resumed his law practice, and wrote an historical work entitled Seven Decades of the Union (1872). He died September 12, 1876. Consult his Life, (New York, 1899), written by his grandson, B. H. Wise.