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hand clutching at his vitals, yet with a laugh clear and ringing as the marriage-bell; his thin face is of deathly hue, yet the dark eyes are blazing lamps. If you are his friend, he is gentle and affectionate as a girl; if his enemy, he will have great pleasure in standing opposite to you at any distance that may be arranged,-in which case you had better look sharp, for he is cool as an oyster. A student and true philosopher, a laborious and conscientious legislator, a powerful lawyer, and a zealous cultivator of grapes, (Catawba and Scuppernong,) for he has faith in the virtues of wine,- —a generous friend and patron of humble merit, for the which many prayers and blessings arise every evening on his behalf,—& noble imaginative orator, yet not of the Charles Phillips school of Irish oratory' by any means, his taste being too highly educated for that species of rigmarole,—such is Alexander H. Stephens."



WITHOUT doubt, one of the most remarkable and brilliant men of the day is he whose name stands at the head of this sketch. A clear thinker, a forcible debater, and a man ready for every occasion, few have attracted so much publio attention, and none have deserved his great and exciting successes better.

Henry Alexander Wise, the son of John Wise and his wife Sarah Corbin Cropper, was born on the 3d of December, 1806, at Accomac Court-House, called Drummondtown. On both the paternal and maternal side he is descended from military people of energy and great decision of character. His father was the son of Colonel John Wise, a commissioned colonel of the King of England, and one of the earliest emigrants to the Eastern Shore of Virginia; and his mother was the daughter of General John Cropper, who, commissioned as captain in February, 1776, while yet but nineteen years old, fought under Washington at Germantown, Princeton, Monmouth, Trenton, Chadd's Ford, and Brandywine, won the esteem of La Fayette, and, after further service in the South,-chiefly as county lieutenant of Accomac County,—died a brigadier-general in January, 1821, aged sixty

five years.

At the period of the birth of Henry A., his father, who was a lawyer by profession and had been distinguished as Speaker of the House of Delegates previous to 1800, was clerk of the courts of Accomao. He died in 1812, and was followed by his widow in the succeeding year. Thus the subject of this sketch was orphaned at the age of seren years. He was taken to Bowman's Folly, the old family seat of Sir Edmund Bowman, an ancestor of his mother's, and, after some further changes, was placed under the care of two paternal aunts at Clifton, on the Chesconessex Creek, where he remained two years, and learned the alphabet and the Lord's Prayer. Margaret Academy next had the honor of his presence, where he learned as much mischief and as little Greek and Latin as were needed to sustain the character of that institution; and so it turned out that when-in 1822– young Wise was sent to Washington College, Pennsylvania, it was with much difficulty that he entered the sophomore class. The college was then under the Presidency of Dr. Andrew Wylie, a North-of-Ireland Presbyterian, whose reputation comes to our day as that of a gentleman, philosopher, linguist, and metaphysician,-as also that of “a cavalier who loved virtue for virtue's sake, truth for truth's sake, and his fellow-creatures for their own sake," and cultivated in his pupils the additional accomplishments of “gallantry and high game.”

This suited young Wise exactly; and his progress in the polite arts, as well as in “high game,” was of a most satisfactory nature. He greatly distinguished himself in the debates of the Union Literary Society, and, as its champion, carried off the victory twice from a rival society, and on a third trial brought the judges to a tie. He graduated in 1825, before he was nineteen, dividing the first honor with a Maryland youth named Mitchell. Mr. Wise commenced practice as an advocate before he left college, having volunteered to defend W. H. McGuffey, who was suspended for thrashing a fellow-student. Wise justified his course, and narrowly escaped sharing the penalty inflicted on his client. How now stand these gentlemen of the same alma mater? asks Dr. Hambleton, and answers, “One [McG.] adorns the chair of Moral Philosophy in the greatest, best-regulated, best-conducted, and most republican university in the land, and the other presides over the Commonwealth of Virginia.'

Mr. Wise left college in 1825, and returned home by way of Canada and New York. He studied law in the school of Henry St. George Tucker, at Winchester, with whom he remained until the fall of 1828, when he went home and cast his maiden vote for Andrew Jackson, Having marriedt in October of that year,

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*“Virginia Polities in 1855," &c., by James P. Hambleton, M.D.

† Mr. Wise was married to Ann Eliza, daughter of Rev. Dr. O. Jennings, of Washington College, on the 8th of October, 1828. She died in June, 1837. He was married a second time, in November, 1840, to Sarah, third daughter of Hon. John Sergeant, of Philadelphia. She died in 1850. He was married a third time to Mary Elizabeth Lyons, sister of a distinguished lawyer of Richmond, Virginia, in November, 1853.

in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, he settled there, formed a law-partnership, and achieved a good practice, but, yearning for his native State, returned to Accomac in the fall of 1830, and in the following spring commenced a very successful professional career, to which he soon added a political one of a very remarkable and active character, and which has grown in vitality and importance down to the moment at which these lines are written,

Although the parents and relatives of Mr. Wise were Federalists, he early declared himself in favor of State rights, and has continued one of the most vigorous exponents of that doctrine. He represented the York District in 1832 as delegate to the Baltimore National Democratic Convention, and supported General Jackson for the first office, but refused to acquiesce in the nomination of Van Buren for Vice-President. During the Nullification furore in 1832–33, Mr. Wise espoused the doctrine of the resolutions of 1798-99, as reported by Madison,—"that each State for itself is the judge of the infraction, and of the mode and manner of redress.” He was, therefore, opposed on the one hand to the Proclamation and Force Bill, and on the other to the remedies of South Carolina, and set forth his views in an address to the York District, which Mr. Ritchie at the time characterized as “a masterly refutation of many of the errors of the day,—the doctrines of consolidation as well as of Nullification.” Mr. Wise then, as now, was equal to any emergency, and very soon brought his "high-game" proclivities into the political arena, of which Ritchie thus gives us an early illustration when he says, “Mr. Wise has been bitterly assailed by the Nullifiers; but he is fully able to defend himself. He asks no quarter from them, and he will give none.' Mr. Wise in those days supported Jackson to save the Union, while he condemned his course,—thinking that a milder one was more suitable to the crisis. In 1833, the Jackson party of the Eastern Shore presented Mr. Wise as a candidate for Congress against Hon. Richard Coke, of Williamsburg, who had represented the York ·District but became a Nullifier on the appearance of the Proclamation. The contest was severe and acrimonious, but resulted in


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the election of Wise by four hundred majority, and a duel with his antagonist, the latter being the challenging party. In the “affair of honor,” Mr. Coke's right arm was fractured.

Mr. Wise was among the seventeen Democrats of the House who seceded from Jackson on the removal of the deposits. Hambleton gives a strange anecdote of this period. In Wise's speech on the removal of the deposits he quoted a remark of John Randolph's about the "rara avis,” the “black swan," and alluded to the fact that his death had not been announced in the House, saying it was no fault of his. This called out, a few days afterward, Randolph's successor, Judge Bouldin, who took the floor and commenced giving the reasons thus :—“I will tell my colleague the reason why”—Here his head went back, the veins in his temples became corded, his face for a moment was distorted, and he fell a dead man. What is strange about this whole affair is, that the only allusion to the death of Mr. Randolph ever made in the House of Representatives prefaced the death of him who filled his seat.* Mr. Wise was re-elected in 1835, and again in 1837, as the advocate of the principles of Hugh Lawson White and John Tyler, who had been run respectively for the offices of President and Vice-President in opposition to Van Buren and Johnson,—“That is, opposed to the Pet Bank system, Benton's Sub-Treasury, and the reference of Abolition petitions to special or any committee, and the fearless advocate for the annexation of Texas, a Tariff for revenue only, &c.

The famous Graves and Cilley duel took place in 1837. Mr. Wise was the second of the former, and Hon. George W. Jones, of Iowa, the second of the latter. It grew out of an attack by Mr. Cilley on James Watson Webb, of the “Courier and Enquirer.” Graves first acted as the friend of Webb, when Cilley refused to be accountable for words spoken in debate. A question of veracity having subsequently arisen, Graves became a principal, and acted by the advice of Henry Clay. Mr. Wise was opposed to the duel, and desired to delay it, and, if possible, settle the affair by negotiation. He declined several times to bear the challenge to Mr. Cilley; and, on the last occasion of his doing so, “Mr. Graves appealed to Messrs. Clay and Menefee to bear witness that on one

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* Hambleton, p. 20.

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