Brief Biographies from the Jackson/Van Buren Era (W):


Wadsworth, James 1768 - 1844:

Pioneer in the Genessee Valley, NY from 1790. Born in Durham, CT.


Wainwright Jonathan Mayhew 1821 - 1863:

A naval officer who, with Farragut and Porter conducted operations with Grant to open up the Mississipi. Killed in action Jan 1, 1863. Son of Jonathan Mayhew (1792 - 1854), the clergyman.


Wainwright, Jonathan Mayhew 1792 - 1854:

English-born Episcopal minister who rose to Bishow of New York in 1852. Father of Jonathan Mayhew (1821 - 1863) the Civil War naval hero of Grant's Mississippi campaign.


Waldo, Peter - 12th Century:

French heretic and founder of the persecuted "Poor Men of Lyons" - later called Waldensians. (Ralph Emerson preferred his middle name, Waldo).


Walker, Amasa 1799 - 1875:

After being a farmer and small shopkeeper, joined the teaching staff of Oberlin from 1842-9. Later taught at Harvard and Amherst, and served from 1862-3 in the House of Representatives. Wrote The Science of Wealth in 1866, and was regarded as an economist. Born in Woodstock, CT.


Walker, David (1785 - 1830):

A black man, born free in North Carolina, who ran a used clothing shop in Boston, catering to sailors. He self-published his Appeal, a stirring and bitter protest against the treatment of his fellows, especially the slaves, by white Americans, and predicting (and encouraging) a violent outcome if it should go on in the same manner. He was restrained and eloquent, and showed no true relish for violence, but clearly expressed anger at the "stupidity" of some slaves who, while being transported in chains to a new location, overcame their overseer and escaped. I.e. they were stupid not to have killed the man, and as a result, their leaders were executed and the rest sold back into slavery.

A longer biographical sketch of David walker is written by Leon Jackson at Ferris State University.


Walker, James 1794 - 1874:

Helped organize the Unitarian Association in 1825, and edited their periodical, The Christian Examiner, from 1831-39. Taught at Harvard from 1839, to 53, when he took over as president, and served until 1860.


Walker, Joseph Reddeford 1798 - 1876:

An explorer and trapper, who operated out of Independence, MO from 1820-32, and for whom Walker Lake, and Walker Pass, in the Rockies are named.


Walker, Robert John 1801 - 1869:

Lawyer in Pittsburgh, PA from 1821-26; then in Natchez, MI. Senator from Mississippi from 1836-45; Secy of treasury under Polk, 1845-9. Gov. of Kansas Territory 1857-8.


Walker, Sears Cook 1805 - 1853:

Astronomer who worked the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington DC from 1845 on, and was responsible for innovations such as obtaining more information from astronomical observations through the use of multiple observations coordinated by telegraph.


Walker, William 1824 - 1860:

Drawn to California by the gold rush, he gathered an expedition to invade Lower California (part of Mexico) and proclaim it an independent republic. Forced out of Mexico, he was acquitted of the charge of violating neutrality laws. Repeated the same sort of action in Nicaragua, but failed, and this time was courtmartialed and shot. Born in Nashville, TN.


Wallace, David 1799 - 1859:

Gov of Indiana 1837-40; In Congress 1841-3.


Wallack, Henry John 1790 - 1870:

English born actor who debuted in Baltimore in 1819. A leading actor and stage manager, sometimes based on New York City (after 1824), and sometimes in London. Brother of James William Wallack (1795-1864).


Wallack, James William 1795-1864.

Actor of comedy and melodrama, and somtimes stage manager, both in London and New York. Brother of Henry John Wallack (1790 - 1870):


Walsh, Robert 1784 - 1859:

Founded American Review of History and Politics (1811-12); American Register (1817), American Quarterly Review (1827-37). Cofounded National Gazette and Literary Register in 1820 with William Fry. Consul general in Paris 1844-51. Born in Baltimore, MD.


Walter, Thomas Ustick 1804 - 1887:

Architect of the celebrated of Girard College in Philadelphia; went on to become architect of the Capitol in 1851; designed the new wings and dome which were added between then and 1865. Born in Philadelphia.


Walther, Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm 1811 - 1887:

In 1839, he led a Lutheran religious community to the U.S. Founded a theological school later relocated and renamed as Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis.


Ward, Artemus

Pen name of Charles Farrar Browne.


Ward, Samuel 1786 - 1839:

Founder of the Bank of Commerce of New York City. Father of Samuel (1814 - 1884), and of Julia Ward Howe.


Ward, Samuel 1814 - 1884:

Lobbiest for the financial interests in the years after the Civil war (to about 1877). A lively companion and bon vivant; friendly with Charles Sumner among others. Son of his namesake the banker, and brother of Julia Ward Howe. F. Marion Crawford used him as model of Horace Bellingham in Dr. Claudius.


Ware, Henry (Senior) 1764 - 1845:

Professor of divinity at Harvard from 1805 - 1840. His assuming that role was seen as a watershed marking Harvard as a liberal (essentially Unitarian) institution. Born in Sherborn, MA.


Ware, Henry (Jr.) 1794 - 1843:

Son of his namesake. Served as pastor of Second Church, or "Old North", in Boston, from 1817-1830. For a brief period, shared the pulpit with Ralph Waldo Emerson, before resigning for reasons of health, and assuming the Hollis Professorship of Pulpit Eloquence and Pastoral Care at Harvard. Wrote The Life of the Saviour in 1833.

Source: Cayton, Emerson's Emergence (for lifespan, Webster's Bio ...)


Ware, John 1795 - 1864:

Medical doctor and educator - at Harvard from 1836; president of the Massachusetts Medical Society from 1848-52. Son of Henry Ware the prominent Unitarian theologian.


Ware, William 1797 - 1852:

Unitarian ministor in New York from 1821-36, and wrote several historical novels. Son of Henry Ware the prominent Unitarian theologian.


Warner, Susan Bogert 1819 - 1885:

Popular novelist who wrote as Elizabeth Wetherell. Wrote the very popular The Wide, Wide World in 1850 and Queechy in 1852. Born in New York City.


Warren, John Collins 1778 - 1856:

First Surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital. Demonstrated use of ether as anaesthesia in 1846. Son of Joseph Warren, the revolutionary war officer and doctor.


Warren, Josiah 1798 - 1874:

Part of Robert Owen's New Harmony community in Indiana. Later, known as founder of anarchism, as a political philosophy in America. Ran an "equity store" in Cincinnati, based on his theories, from 1827-29. Several significant inventions in printing machinery.


Warren, Russell 1783 - 1860:

Member of the Greek revival movement in architecture and inventor of a kind of steel truss for bridges called the Warren truss. Practiced in Rhode Island.


Warren, William 1767 - 1832:

English-born actor and theatre manager. Popular as Falstaff and other comic roles. Father of namesake (1812-1888) who became one of America's greatest actors.


Warren, William 1812 - 1888:

Established as one of the stock company of the Boston Museum from 1847 on; he became one of America's greatest actors. Son of namesake who lived 1767-1832.


Washburn, Cadwallader Colden 1818 - 1882:

Member of House of Representatives from Wisconsin from 1855-61 and 1867-71, and Governed Wisconsin from 1872-74. He was also a wealthy trader in real estate, and became a major general in the Civil War. All three brothers were in the House of Representatives at one time representing different states. The three brothers Cadwallader and Israel Washburn and Elihu Washburne (yes he added an 'e' to his last name) were, in the late 1850s, all in the House of Representatives representing different states.


Washburn, Israel 1813 - 1883:

Called a meeting on May 9, 1854 which was instrumental in founding of the Republican Party, and may have helped choose the name "Republican". Represented Maine in the House from 1851 - 61; Governed the state from 1861-2. The three brothers Cadwallader and Israel Washburn and Elihu Washburne (yes he added an 'e' to his last name) were, in the late 1850s, all in the House of Representatives representing different states.


Washburne, Elihu 1816 - 1887:

Responsible for Ulysses S. Grant entering the Union army as a Major General during the Civil war. Represented Illinois in the House of Reps from 1853-69. Secy of state briefly at beginning of Grant's term, but resigned within days to take the post of Minister to France, which he held from 1869-77. The three brothers Cadwallader and Israel Washburn and Elihu Washburne (yes he added an 'e' to his last name) were, in the late 1850s, all in the House of Representatives representing different states.


Washington, Bushrod 1762 - 1829:

Favorite nephew and heir of George Washington, and Supreme Court justice from 1798 - 1829. Born in Westmorland County, Va.


Watts, Isaac 1674 - 1748:

English Congregationalist minister, famous hymn writer, and theologian. Composed 600 hymns including "O God, Our Help in Ages Past".

Collections of Watts' hymns formed the core of many 19th century American hymnals. Many of Watts' hymns express a sublime absorption in the grandeur of God and his creation. Some, like "Lord I am Vile" (p133 Watts Select), or "Sin Like a Venomous Disease Infects Our Vital Blood," give voice to the Calvinist doctrines that have mostly disappeared from Christianity.

Watts has been called the "Creator of the modern hymn" (Encyclopedia Americana; Leonard Ellington).

In addition, he wrote philosophical and theological works that were used by Oxford, Harvard, and Yale until around 1800.


Wayne, Anthony 1745 - 1796:

Revolutionary war Colonel; most notable achievement was the campaign against the Indians that secured Ohio - especially the Battle of Fallen Timbers, just before he died.


Webb, James Watson (1802-1884):

American journalist and diplomat; owner/editor or Morning Courier and New York Enquirer, New York City (1829-61); U.S. minister to Brazil (61-69).

Leonard L. Richards, in Gentlemen of Property and Standing, called him the "North's most vehement anti-abolitionist spokesman". Also, acc. to Richards, the onetime colonel (or militia?) "saw himself as the foremost protector of the interests and traditions of New York City's gentlemen merchants ... shunned impersonal relations in business, cuffed and caned 'inferior' rivals on the street, fought one duel and caused another."

His son, Alexander Stewart (1835-1911) was a Civil War general, chiefly responsible for the repulse of Pickett's charge. Another son was named after William Seward (lived 1851-1926).


Webster, Daniel (1782 - 1852):

Congressman, high priced lawyer, and Senator, considered to be the most eloquent man of the age; sometimes called "Godlike Dan Webster"; also "Black Dan".

Born in New Hampshire. Became a lawyer, then served New Hampshire congressman 1813-17. As his fame grew, he moved to Boston Massachusetts, which in time also made him a congressman - from 1823-27. He was in the U.S. Senate from 1827-41 and from 1845-50, serving as secretary of state in the intervals between those two periods, and from 1850-52.

In the Senate, he made the famous "reply to (Robert)Hayne", from which schoolboys would thereafter quote, when practicing oration. He ringingly defended Andrew Jackson's putting down of Nullification by stick and carrot.

His last major act was to support Henry Clay in working out the "compromise of 1850" which for a while prevented the breakdown of the union on the issue of whether new territories should allow slavery or not (to simplify somewhat). As Massachusetts was tending more and more towards radical anti-slavery, this caused many there to disrespect his memory, and when one of the most outspoken anti-slavery men, Charles Sumner, succeeded Webster in his Senate, it was regarded as a watershed event.


Webster, Noah 1758 - 1843:

Grad Yale 1778. Published his first speller: A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, Part 1 (Hartford, CT 1783), a huge success, which "had much to do with the standardization of spelling and, to some degree of pronunciation in the U.S." along different lines from the English. 1828: published An American Dictionary of the English Language. A Federalist in Politics, he edited several New York newspapers between 1787 and 1798. Also edited The American Magazine from 1787-88. After 1788, he lived in New Haven. (source: (concise) DAB).


Weed, Thurlow (1797-1882):

A New York state politician and newspaperman, styled by Glyndon G. Van Deusen as The Wizard of the Lobby. Weed belonged successively to an anti-Clinton faction (?) (and pro-Clay?), the Anti-Masonic Party, the Whigs, and finally the Republicans.

He was born in a rural log cabin on a turnpike connecting two Catskill towns, and within ten miles of the Hudson. His father, a poor carter, soon took the family to the town of Catskill on the Hudson, 30 miles south of Albany.

There, while his father struggled, going in and out of debtor's prison, he got a few months schooling - which was all he ever got; he spent two years as a cabin boy on sloops sailing the Hudson in those pre-steamboat days. He was also, in 1808, did odd jobs for Dr. Croswell, the editor of the Catskill Recorder. He would have been acquainted with Croswell's son, a future arch-rival editor and political operative - Edwin Croswell, future editor of the Albany Argus.

In 1809 the family moved to Cincinnatus, in Cortland County, which was then a wilderness

In 1821, he got a position on the Rochester Telegraph, which he kept until 1827.

In the election of 1824, he engineered a coup in the selection of presidential electors which may have been critical in causing Adams to be elected. It involved very careful vote-counting, deal making, and a secretly printed split ticket.

While Van Buren's "Regency" continued to dominate New York politics into the late 40s, Weed eventually became what Van Deusen called the "Dictator" of New York.

He helped place William Henry Seward in the governership from 1838-1842, and afterwards, accompanied Seward into the Republican party, and supported the moderate anti-slavery man for president.

Was consulted by Abraham Lincoln on the selection of Lincoln's presidential cabinet.

References:

Van Deusen, Glyndon, Thurlow Weed: Wizard of the Lobby (Boston, 1947)


Weld, Theodore Dwight (1803-1895):

Perhaps the most effective of all anti-slavery slavery speakers.

Born in Hampton Connecticut to Ludovicus Weld, graduate of Harvard, and pastor of the town's Congregational Church.

He had a wild side to his nature, and before he was ten, had had

"a broken hand, a broken foot, at least four dislocated bones, the cords of a finger severed, and an eye almost hooked out of its socket... In middle age he confessed 'I must cut capers'; and every day the chance afforded he would seek a secluded spot where he might 'jump and hop and scream like a loon and run on all fours and wrestle and throw stones and play tag and hide and seek ... and all those childish rompings. (Thomas, Weld)

At sixteen, he tried to put himself through Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. In his second year, while driving himself excedingly hard, he became unable to read, and had to drop out of school (The same happened to Emerson in college, and Emerson's aunt Mary, and may have been due to long hours of reading by the light of a dim candle).

Shortly after, he mastered the "science of mnemonics", or art of improving the memory, and from age 17 to 20 or 21, lived on the road as a successful lyceum-style lecturer, traveling from New England down as far as North Carolina.

In 1825, with improved sight, he entered Hamilton College in Clinton NY, near Fabius, where his family had since moved.


Welles, Gideon

A Jacksonian Democrat, who left the party to help organize the Republicans (joining anti-slavery elements of the Democrats and Whigs), who contributed greatly as secretary of the Navy under Lincoln and Johnson (1861-69).

Born in Glastenbury CT (now spelled Glastonbury) to Samuel Welles, a successful shipping merchant until the embargo caused him to retrench. They were still comfortably middle class, but too pinched to readily send sons to Yale or Harvard. Gideon's father was also a fervent Jeffersonian, and an Episcopalian (In late 18c and early 19c Connecticut this was often a sign of anti-Calvinist rebellion; it seems to have been so in both the Welles family and that of Amos Bronson Alcott -- see below).

Slow to chose a career, he made a belated attempt at a college education, attending the Episcopal Academy at Cheshire, CT, directed by Tillotson Bronson (the uncle of A.Bronson Alcott).

After a sojourn in Pennsylvania, where he failed to salvage his father's shaky land claims, he attended the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy in Norwich VT (now Norwich University), in 1824-25. In the year Welles attended, the heavily promoted school's enrollment went from 162 to 400. Meanwhile, Welles found the atmosphere rowdy and overcrowded, the courses in the catalogue mostly nonexistent, and the library poor and grossly misrepresented.

In the late 1820s, he moved to Hartford,to study law, which he failed to do, but found his calling, and blossomed, as he became editor of the Hartford Times, and a powerful figure among the growing set of Jacksonian Democrats in Connecticut.

<to be continued>


Wesley, John (1703 - 1791):

Founder and early builder of the Methodist Church.

He became a priest of the Church of England in 1728. Became leader of his brother Charles' "Methodist Society" at Oxford (1729-34). Accompanied Gov. Oglethorpe to Georgia as missionary to the colonists and Indians, was influenced there by Zinzendorf, founder of the Moravian church.

Soon after his return to England, in 1738, he experienced a kind of dramatic conversion, abaondoned ecclesiastical and High Church views, began preaching in fields and in a deserted gun foundry which he bought.

He traveled constantly throughout Britain, building a new organization of Christians who rejected the Calvinistic doctrine of election (rather, they believed anyone could be saved). They brought about highly emotional conversions. They also maintained a structure that included bishops, used circuit riders, and had a complex and energetic system of conferences in which ministers were held accountable for the numbers they brought into the church. They were particularly effective on the frontiers of the U.S., where settlements had outrun churches, leaving a religious vacuum.

For more on the Methodist church in America, see Peter Cartwright and Francis Asbury.


Whittier, John Greenleaf 1807 - 1892:

Poet and abolitionist; friend of William Lloyd Garrison. Editor, particularly in youth, of various periodicals. He was raised a Quaker, on a farm in Haverhill MA, on the Merrimack River.

Accompanied Garrison to the 1833 anti-slavery convention, and wrote an account of it, found in Harper's Encyc. of U.S. History.


Wigfall, Louis Tresvant (Apr 21, 1816 - Feb. 18, 1874):

Southern "fire-eater". Served as U.S. Senator from Texas from Dec 5, 1959 - March 23, 1861, when he withdrew. Served in the Confederate army in the Civil War, and represented Texas in the Confederate Congress. After the war he moved to London, England until 1873. Returned to America and died soon after.

His life is somewhat connected with that of congressman Francis Preston Brooks, who badly beat Senator Charles Sumner in 1856. Wigfall and Brooks were both born in Edgefield district, SC; both attended South Carolina College, and both shot each other (nonfatally) in a duel in 1841.


Wilberforce, William 1759 - 1833

A leader in the evangelical reform movement in England, and particularly of the drive to end slavery.


Willard, Emma Hart 1787 - 1870:


Willis, Nathaniel 1780-1870:

Son of another Nathaniel, owner of the Independent Chronicle a Boston

Willis, Nathaniel Parker 1806-1867:



Winchester, Marcus Brutus ? - ? :

Early citizen and first mayor of Memphis TN, at a time when it was just a trading post. Married a free black woman named Mary; had 8 children, the first boy named for Robert Owen, and their 2nd girl named Frances Wright.


Wirt, William 1772 - 1834:

Attorney General under Monroe and John Q. Adams, author of a biography of Patrick Henry. Presidential candidate in 1832 under the Anti-masonic ticket. (Source: DAB)


Witherspoon, John, 1768 - 1792:

4th President of the College of New Jersey (later known as Princeton) (and the 2nd one to serve for more than a few months) He had been something of a radical in Scottish politics and emprisoned for it (1745-6). He was invited to America for the purpose of becoming Pres. of this college. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, and inspirer of the young James Madison. He slso "introduced into American thought the Scottish Common Sense philosophy of Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart, which dominated the nation's thought for a century." (Source: p530, Sandoz, Political Sermons..)


Woodbury, Levi 1789-1851


Woodward, Thomas Green ? - ?

Co-owner of New Haven's Connecticut Herald. Made decision to publish Anne Royall's first book, Sketches...., in connection with the printer Durrie & Peck.

Source: James, Anne Royall's U.S.A., p157.


Worcester, Noah Emerson 1758 - 1837:

Born in Hollis, NH, Unitarian minister, and, indeed the first editor (1813-18) of the Unitarian publication Christian Discipline, whose name was later The Christian Examiner. His brother, Samuel, was on the opposite side of the Congregationalist church split.

He also was a peace organizer, writing A Solemn Review of the Custom of War, in 1814, and The Friend of Peace from 1819-28.

Uncle of Samuel A. Worcester, the indian missionary.


Worcester, Samuel, D.D. 1770 - 1821:

Congregational clergyman, born in Hollis, NH. Graduated Dartmouth 1795. Pastor at Fitchberg, MA 1797-1802, but was too conservative for this parish, being a rigid Hopkinsian Calvinist. Became pastor of the Tabernacle Church of Salem, MA. Wrote "directions for musical expression" that were incorporated in Watts Select, edited by, presumably, his son; at any rate, by Samuel M. Worcester.

One of the founders, in 1810, and later corresponding secretary, of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

His brother, Noah Emerson, was a Unitarian minister, and, indeed, was the first editor (1813-18) of the Unitarian publication Christian Discipline, whose name was later The Christian Examiner.

Uncle of Samuel A. Worcester, the indian missionary.


Worcester, Samuel A. 1798 - 1859:

Missionary to the Cherokee Indians; promoted the written Cherokee language, and publications in it; imprisoned by Georgia, along with Elizur Butler, about 1830 for his activities with the Cherokees, and/or for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the State of Georgia, whom Georgia was trying to force out of the state. This became a cause celebre on which the Supreme Court ruled that Georgia had no jurisdiction to arrest anyone on the Cherokee reservation. Andrew Jackson did little or nothing to enforce the decision, and supposedly said "Let [John Marshall] enforce it", but

Born in Worcester MA. Nephew of Samuel (1770-1821) and Noah Worcester.


Worcester, Samuel M., A.M. ? - ?:

Professor of Rhetoric at Amherst College, MA, and editor of the 1856 edition of Watts Select, a hymnal.


Wright, Camilla 1797 - Feb. 8, 1931 :

Sister and, until her death, inseparable companion of Frances Wright. (source:  Eckhardt, Fanny Wright)


Wright, Elizur (Feb 12, 1804 - Nov. 22, 1885):

Born in South Canaan, CT; graduated Yale in 1826; professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Western Reserve College in Ohio from 1829-33. Edited the following anti-slavery periodicals: Human Rights, 1834-5, Anti-slavery Magazine, 1837-8, and Massachusetts Abolitionist from 1939. He was commissioner of insurance for Massachusetts in 1858-66, and his subsequent career had to do with insurance.


Wright, Frances Sep. 6, 1795 - Dec. 13, 1852 :

A Scottish (upper middle class) born radical free thinker who visited America in 1818-1820, became a passionate friend of Lafayette starting September 1821. Followed him to America in 1824, and stayed, making the U.S. her main home thereafter (she and her sister Camilla got U.S. citizenship in 1825).

Frances Wright was a British-born radical reformer/adventurer who became an American citizen, and considered the United States her home after 1824.

Born in 1795, She and her younger sister Camila were orphaned very early, and sent to live in London with a grandfather, and an aunt whom she came to despise; she also came to despise their Tory politics. The death of an uncle gave the two Wright sisters a sizeable fortune, and resulted in her foster family (also heirs of the uncle) setting up an estate in Devonshire. She then spent her adolescence (ages 11-18) in the very milieu described in Jane Austen's novels. At 18 Fanny, with her sister, fled their legal guardian, and were welcomed in Glasgow by an uncle, James Mylne, a successor to Adam Smith's professorship of Moral Philosophy. In this great university town, in the bosom of a learned and liberal family, Wright accomplished much of her impressive self-education.

Wright's childhood was spent in the early days of industrialization, during which the landless poor were also being deprived of the use of common lands, and the French Revolution followed by the Napoleonic wars helped generate a violent reaction against liberal ideas by the party in power, which made the U.S.' Alien and Sedition Laws look very pale by comparison.

In this period, America looked to her like the Promised Land, and as soon as she came of age, in 1818, she sailed for New York, with Camilla in tow. During these first years in America, she wrote a very successful play, which flattered the American self-image. Though the sisters filed for U.S. citizenship in late 1820, the two sisters were on their way back to England in early 1821.

Back in England, Frances Wright published Views of Society and Manners in America, which most Americans welcomed as fair and accurate, and which James Fenimore Cooper called "nauseous flattery". She became something of a disciple of the radical-thinking Jeremy Bentham, and then on a visit to France sought out Lafayette, and became his passionate friend for life, spending much of her time at the Lafayette estate.

In 1824, Wright followed Lafayette to the U.S. when he came to see the almost 50 year old nation he had helped liberate. There was much awkwardness with Lafayette's family, so the Wright sisters were kept at arms-length, and they eventually struck out on their own. Since their application for citizenship, the necessary five years had elapsed, and despite their having been out of the country most of that time, citizenship was granted.

Fanny Wright had always abhored American slavery, though it took her a long time to see just how deeply embedded it was in the nation's life. In late 1825, she decided on a scheme to demonstrate just how the U.S. could extricate itself from the "misfortune" of slavery. She would gather a group of slaves (purchase them, in fact), and with them she would break a tract of virgin land on the Wolf River in the wilds of south-western Tennessee. Meanwhile she would educate them morally and intellectually in preparation for freedom. The slaves, understanding her good intent, would work much harder than slaves normally worked. Out of the procedes their purchase cost would be defrayed, with a nicely growing profit so that the venture could not only continue, but expand rapidly. Others, seeing that this sort of enterprise was more profitable than slavery itself, would copy it, which would lead, before very long to the end of slavery in America. The community was called Nashoba.

What happened to Nashoba? It was a well-intended and in some ways ingenious plan, but revealed Wright's problem dealing with or even perceiving human factors, and her lack of grasp of the fragility of human processes.

Under Wright's immediate guidance, and that of George Flower, a true soul-mate to Fanny (and probable lover), the enterprise did look promising. William Maclure, who clearly saw the failure of New Harmony, was "astonished that everything proceeded so smoothly. ... The slaves worked hard without coercion -- even without apparent direction". But by this time, George Flower was already gone (having returned to his wife), and Fanny's health was nearly wrecked by the chronic illnesses, including malaria, suffered by nearly all American pioneers.

To overcome decades of being lied to and abused; to convince slaves of the improbable notion that one who held ownership papers on them was planning their liberation, and, with all this, to lead them through a transformation of their culture from that of slaves to that of free and independent educated people -- without the two tremendously gifted organizers, the process would founder.

Wright decided that to recover her health she would need to travel to a different climate. Thus for most of 1827, she traveled back to Europe. While she was gone, the managers of Nashoba used sometimes terrible judgement in dealing with their charges, and even resorted, on occasion, to whipping. They also informed the world at large of their disdain for the marriage institution, and that one of the men was openly living with a free "mulatto" woman.

In England and France, Wright reenvisioned the enterprise as a communal place of work and education, in which the marriage contract would be invalid (the Rubicon having been crossed), and the two races would learn to live in peace and harmony. From henceforth, they would receive only free blacks, and would educate them for colonization in a land where they would be safe from the viciousness (towards blacks) of white culture in America. It was thought that they could be colonized in Haiti, as a few indeed were at the time of the dissolution of the Nashoba experiment. Unfortunately for Wrights plans, there were no large numbers of free blacks wanting to be sent to a strange new country, much less would the mostly urban free blacks want to serve an apprenticeship in a pestillential swamp in western Tennessee. They rightly doubted that this would be an improvement, even over their current oppressed lives.

Meanwhile, Wright tried to recruit enlightened Europeans to take part in the building of a new world. She found one taker, another Frances, or "Fanny", the mother of Anthony Trollope, who would write a book on the Domestic Manners of the Americans at wide variance from the "nauseous flattery" of Wright's views of the U.S.

Frances Trollope was a lively, open-hearted woman (though a caustic observer), by no means radical in politics, though having some share of liberal optimisim, and able to be dazzled, for a while, as people were, by the brilliant Wright. Mrs Trollope, two of her children, and her artist protege Auguste Hervieau accompanied Wright to America, expecting to spend considerable time in America, away from English creditors, in brilliant company, getting a fine education for her children, and with the artist participating in the experimental educational institute of Nashoba.

As Wright composed a sort of manifesto to be presented to the newpaper of another communal venture in the American west, (Robert Owen's New Harmony), Mrs. Trollope "watched, while Fanny sat on a coiled rope in steerage and read parts to a sailor patching his trousers" the composing of her "Explanatory Notes on Nashoba" (See Jacksonian Miscellanies, 3/25/97, 4/8/97).

Frances Trollope described Nashoba, and the Frances Wright of Nashoba, as follows:

Source: pp 27-29, Trollope, Frances, Domestic Manners of the Americans (originally London, 1832); also "edited with a history of Mrs. Trollopes Adventures in America, by Donald Smalley (New York 1949):

The Trollope family and their artist-in-tow soon fled Nashoba, and within a few months Nashoba was no more. Neither the self-supporting institution for buying(!), educating and freeing the slaves, nor the cultivated interracial commune was forthcoming, and Wright had dangerously compromised her modest fortune.

Wright subsequently became co-editor of the New Harmony Gazette, which was renamed the Free Enquirer. She lectured all over the United States (the first woman to so address mixed audiences -- "promiscuous audiences", as they said back then ) promoting strict equality of the sexes, a strong universal education system, free love (and, more or less, abolition of marriage), atheism and communalism. She relocated the Free Enquirer to New York, and there purchased a former Baptist church, rechristening it a "temple of science" - a combination lecture hall with seating for 3000, museum, bookstore, and headquarters. Walt Whitman described her in this period as

From Eckhardt, Fanny Wright, p189

Two years later, Wright chartered the brig John Quincy Adams to take the former slaves to Haiti. She was accompanied by William Phiquepal D'Arusmont, an unfortunate traveling companion. She must have felt drawn to him during the difficulties of this trip, for sometime on the voyage she became pregnant by him. She became, for almost five years a recluse, and married D'Arusmont after the child was born. She was so hidden from view that the press did not get to make hay over her illegitimate baby, as much as they delighted in attacking her.

The marriage to D'Arusmont was an empty affair and worse, he gained control of much of her remaining fortune. Late in 1835 she returned to America and tried to stage a comeback as a lecturer. The rest is anticlimactic until her death in 1852, in Cincinnati. She did lecture and write, but no longer reached a large audience. She and D'Arusmont eventually divorced. Her daughter became an ardent Christian and a conservative, and in 1874 testified against woman's suffrage before an American congressional committee.

Principal Source:  Eckhardt, Celia Morris Fanny Wright - Rebel in America (Harvard U. Press, 1984).

See also Jacksonian Miscellanies, 3/25/97, 4/8/97.


Wright, Silas Jr. (May 24, 1795 - Aug. 27, 1847):

Prominent member of Van Buren's Albany Regency, he was in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1827-29, was Comptroller of New York from 1829-33, was a U.S. Senator from 1833-44, and Governor of New York from 1844-46. His years as Governor were plagued by the anti-rent wars against the still strong remnants of the patroon system, and he was unsuccessful in his bid for reelection.

Born in Amherst, MA. Moved with his father to Wybridge, VT the next year (not on the maps I have checked). He graduated Middlebury College (VT) in 1815. He moved to Sandy Hill, Washington County, NY, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1819. He was surrogate of St. Lawrence County 1821-24, a member of the State senate from 1824-27, appointed Brigidier General of the State Militia in 1827, and the same year, become something of a national figure, as a U.S. Congressman (see above for the rest).


Wythe, George 1726 - 1806:

After an active career in the Revolution, he took the first chair of law in an American college, namely William and Mary. After 1790, he resigned this position to conduct his own law school. Among his students were Henry Clay, John Marshall, and William Branch Giles.