Henry Wilson
Burial Location Visited Vice President Grave #
Natick, Massachusetts September 13, 2009 17th Visited


After failing once before, we finally reached                                Henry Wilson was Ulysses Grant's second 
the small Wilson burial plot in Natick.                                         vice president. He was in office for around
                                                                                              two and a half years when he died of a
                                                                                              stroke inside the U.S. Capitol.


When going to visit Wilson's burial place,                                     Wilson was briefly entangled in the Crédit
be sure that you are in the correct cemetery.                               Mobilier of America Scandal, but he was
There are several along the same street.                                     declared innocent of any wrongdoing by
                                                                                               the investigating committee.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Though he is now known as Henry Wilson, this vice president was born Jeremiah Jones Colbath. His father had named him after a wealthy neighbor with the hope that, in return, his family would someday inherit some of the man's fortune. This, as one can imagine, never took place, and the Colbaths went on struggling financially. When Jeremiah was ten, his father apprenticed him to a farmer, for whom he was to work for until he became twenty-one. He rarely was able to attend school, but compensated by reading every book that he could get his hands on.

* Jeremiah turned twenty-one in 1833 and was no longer bound to be an apprentice to the farmer he worked with. Disgusted with his name, he had it changed to Henry Wilson. He then departed his hometown, Farmington, New Hampshire, leaving behind his childhood and his estranged family. Settling in Natick, Massachusetts, he established himself there as a cobbler. Wilson later enrolled himself at three academies and became a teacher for a year. He fell in love with one of his pupils, Harriet Malvina Howe, and the two were wed three years later when she turned sixteen.

* Eventually, Wilson chose to devote more of his time to politics rather than cobbling and hired others to do the work in his stead. As a member of the Whig Party, he was elected to the state legislature multiple times, serving in both houses. Wilson also worked as the editor of a newspaper called the Boston Republican from 1848 to 1851 and joined the local militia, eventually rising to the rank of brigadier general. He left the Whig Party in the late 1840's and switched over to the Free Soil Party. He ran for Congress in 1852 and lost, followed up by his defeat in the race for the governorship of Massachusetts the following year. The politician was a delegate to his state's constitutional convention in 1853 as well. In 1855, he was elected to Congress as a U.S. senator to replace Edward Everett, who had resigned. Wilson's election was made possible by a team-up in the Massachusetts State Legislature by the Know-Nothing, Democratic, and Free Soil parties, though he went on to align himself with the Republicans. In the senate, Wilson worked along with colleague Charles Sumner to combat slavery, an institution Wilson had hated since he saw slaves laboring on a trip to Washington, D.C. in 1836.

* Wilson ended up serving as a U.S. senator for eighteen years, from 1855 to 1873. For a majority of those years, he served as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, which was an important position to hold during the Civil War. Controversy arose after the First Battle of Bull Run when the Union lost and a female Wilson was friendly with was arrested as a Confederate spy. Though some people suspected that Wilson, either inadvertently or otherwise, may have given the woman information about the battle in advance, it was determined that she was acquainted with many Washington politicians and nothing could be proven. After the disastrous battle, Wilson formed a volunteer infantry and marched his men down to Washington, after which he resigned his commission and handed over command. In 1872, he replaced incumbent vice president Schuyler Colfax on the GOP ticket. Ulysses S. Grant and Wilson were able to claim victory at the polls, but the veep suffered a debilitating stroke the following year. He was partially paralyzed, but was able to perform his duties in presiding over the Senate until a second stroke ended his life in November of 1875.

* Since it was presented to Rutherford Hayes in 1880, most presidents have used the Resolute desk in
one form or another (It has not always been used in the president's office)*. All but three subsequent presidents have used the Resolute desk in some form. Upon becoming president, Richard Nixon requested that instead of the Resolute desk he use the desk that Wilson used in his office during his term. While Nixon meant
Woodrow Wilson's office desk, he did not specify which Wilson, and he was sent Vice President Henry Wilson's desk. It was not until later that Nixon discovered the foul-up. Following President Nixon's resignation, Gerald Ford chose to use Henry Wilson's desk as well. Nixon's predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, did not use the Resolute desk either, as he was too large for it. He used the desk that he had used as vice president instead.

Second Lady: None
      - Spouse: Harriet Malvina Howe Wilson (1824-1870)

Political Party:
 Whig Party
                         Republican Party

Served Under:
Ulysses S. Grant (1873-1875)

Last Words:

* Most earlier presidents had the Resolute desk placed in either their study, the Treaty Room, or the 
Yellow Oval Room. The desk was first moved into the Oval Office in 1961 by John F. Kennedy. It has
remained in the Oval Office since President Clinton removed it from his predecessor's study in 1993.
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