Library of Congress
WILSON, Henry (1812-1875)
Senate Years of Service: 1855-1873

WILSON, HENRY, a Senator from Massachusetts and a Vice President of the United States; born Jeremiah Jones Colbath in Farmington, N.H., February 16, 1812; worked on a farm; attended the common schools; had his name legally changed by the legislature to Henry Wilson in 1833; moved to Natick, Mass., in 1833 and learned the shoemaker's trade; attended the Strafford, Wolfsboro, and Concord Academies for short periods; taught school in Natick, Mass., where he later engaged in the manufacture of shoes; member of the State legislature between 1841 and 1852; owner and editor of the Boston Republican 1848-1851; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1852 to the Thirty-third Congress; delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1853; unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of Massachusetts in 1853; elected on January 31, 1855, to the United States Senate by a coalition of Free Soilers, Americans, Conscience Whigs and Democrats to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Edward Everett, and soon after aligned with new Republican party; reelected as a Republican in 1859, 1865, and 1871, and served from January 31, 1855, to March 3, 1873, when he resigned to become Vice President; chairman, Committee on Military Affairs and the Militia (Thirty-seventh through Fortieth Congresses), Committee on Military Affairs (Forty-first and Forty-second Congresses); in 1861 he raised and commanded the Twenty-second Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry; elected Vice President of the United States on the Republican ticket with President Ulysses Grant and served from March 4, 1873, until his death in the Capitol Building, Washington, D.C., November 22, 1875; lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, November 25-26, 1875; interment in Old Dell Park Cemetery, Natick, Mass.

American Philosophical Society
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: Correspondence in Louis Agassiz papers, 1833-1873.

Boston Public Library
Boston, MA
Papers: 41 items.

Boston University
Boston, MA
Papers: 1856-1872. 6 letters.

Brown University
Providence, RI
Papers: Letters addressed to Henry Wilson in Mary Rivers Allen collection, 1846-1881; 2 letters (May 29, 1856; May 20, 1870) to Samuel Hunt; 1 letter (May 30, 1863) to Edwin McMasters Stanton; 1 letter (November 27, 1846) to Francis Wayland; and 1 letter (January 30, 1864) from Caleb Cushing.

Danvers Archival Center
Danvers, MA
Papers: Correspondence in John Dudley Philbrick papers, 1849-1900.

Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH
Papers: June 3, 1848. 1 letter. From Daniel Webster.

Harvard University
Houghton Library
Cambridge, MA
Papers: 10 letters from Wilson in Robert Carter papers, 1819-1879; and correspondence in Edward Lillie Pierce papers, 1852-1888.

Rutherford B. Hayes Library
Fremont, OH
Papers: 1856-1872. 39 items and 1 volume of autographs of U.S. senators and representatives.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: Correspondence in Salmon Portland Chase papers, 1824-1881.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1851-1875. Ca. 200 items. Chiefly letters received together with some copies of outgoing correspondence, relating to Senate, state and national politics, abolition, the Civil War, Reconstruction, patronage, and the organization of the army.

Massachusetts Historical Society
Boston, MA
Papers: Ca. 80 letters and miscellaneous papers (1841-1875), many concerning politics, in various collections including John A. Andrew papers, 1772-1889; George H. Gordon papers, 1842-1886; and William Schouler papers, 1840-1872.

Massachusetts State Archives
Boston, MA
Papers: 26 items in Executive Letters.

Massachusetts State Library
Boston, MA
Papers: Photograph in Portraits of Presidents of the Massachusetts Senate collection, 1781-1897.

Morse Institute Public Library
Natick, MA
Papers: 1 volume, miscellaneous letters, photographs, and portraits.

Peabody Essex Museum
Salem, MA
Papers: Correspondence in John Greenleaf Whittier papers, 1781-1922; and Edmund Kimball papers, 1786-1865.

Pierpont Morgan Library
New York, NY
Papers: 2 items (1855-1856); and 2 letters (1860 and October 27, [1860]) on political topics in the Gilder Lehrman collection. Finding aid.

Radcliffe College
Schlesinger Library
Cambridge, MA
Papers: Correspondence in Beecher-Stowe family papers, 1798-1956.

South Natick Historical, Natural History, and Library Society
Bacon Free Library
South Natick, MA
Papers: 1856-1885. 43 items. Correspondence, commissions, receipts, and calling cards. Also photographs, artifacts, estate papers, and volumes from his private library. Finding aid.

University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library
Rochester, NY
Papers: 9 letters by and 8 to Wilson (1852-1872) in various collections. Finding aid.

Yale University Libraries
Manuscripts and Archives
New Haven, CT
Papers: Correspondence in Samuel Bowles papers, 1853-1890.

  • Abbott, Richard H. Cobbler in Congress: The Life of Henry Wilson, 1812-1875. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1972.
  • Hatfield, Mark O., with the Senate Historical Office, "Henry Wilson." In Vice Presidents of the United States, 1789-1993. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1997: 231-40.
  • Kazarian, Richard, Jr. "Working Radicals: The Early Political Careers of William Seward, Thaddeus Stevens, Henry Wilson, Charles Sumner, Salmon P. Chase and Hannibal Hamlin.'' Ph.D. dissertation, Brown University, 1981.
  • Loubert, J. Daniel. "The Orientation of Henry Wilson, 1812-1856.'' Ph.D. dissertation, Boston University Graduate School, 1952.
  • McKay, Ernest A. "Henry Wilson and the Coalition of 1851.'' New England Quarterly 36 (September 1963): 338-57.
  • ___. Henry Wilson: Practical Radical: A Portrait of a Politician. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1971.
  • ___. "Henry Wilson: Unprincipled Know Nothing.'' Mid-America 46 (January 1964): 29-37.
  • Myers, John L. Henry Wilson and the Coming of the Civil War. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2005.
  • ___. Henry Wilson and the Era of Reconstruction. Lanham, Md. : University Press of America, 2009.
  • ___. Senator Henry Wilson and the Civil War. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2008.
  • Nason, Elias, and Thomas Russell. Life and Public Services of Henry Wilson, Late Vice-President of the United States. 1876. Reprint. New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969.
  • U.S. Congress. Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of Henry Wilson (Vice-President of the United States) Delivered in the Senate and House of Representatives. 44th Cong., 1st sess., 1875-1876. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1876.
  • Wilson, Henry. History of the Antislavery Measures of the Thirty-Seventh and Thirty-Eighth United-States Congresses, 1861-1864. 1864. Reprint. New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969.
  • ___. History of the Reconstruction Measures of the Thirty-Ninth and Fortieth Congresses, 1865-1868. 1868. Reprint. Westport, CT: Negro Universities Press, 1970.
  • ___. History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America. 3 vols. 1872-1877. Reprint. New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969.
  • ___. Military Measures of the United States Congress, 1861-1865. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1866.