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Benjamin Wilson (congressman)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Benjamin Wilson
Benjamin Wilson.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1883
Preceded byJohn James Davis
Succeeded byNathan Goff
Personal details
BornApril 30, 1825
Wilsonburg, Harrison County Virginia
DiedApril 26, 1901(1901-04-26) (aged 75)
Clarksburg, Harrison County, West Virginia
Political partyDemocratic
Professionlawyer, politician

Benjamin Wilson (April 30, 1825 – April 26, 1901) was an American lawyer and Democratic politician[1] who served as a United States Representative from West Virginia) (1875–1883) and as an assistant attorney general during the administration of President Grover Cleveland (1885 to 1893).[2]

Early and family life

Born in Wilsonburg in Harrison County, Virginia (now West Virginia) to Mary Martin (1804-1831) and her husband, Josiah D. Wilson (1796–1868), Benjamin was named for his paternal grandfather, the patriot Col. Benjamin Wilson Sr. (1747-1827), a lieutenant in Lord Dunmore's Army. After fighting Native Americans, in 1774 Col. Wilson moved across the Allegheny Mountains, settled in the Tygart valley and founded "Wilson's Fort" (which he defended during the American Revolutionary War)[3] and later represented what was then Monongelia County in the Virginia General Assembly and became first clerk of the Harrison County court.[4] This Benjamin Wilson's maternal grandfather, William Martin (1763–1851), had been a patriot as well, serving as commissary for New Jersey troops before settling in Harrison County.[5]

Although Benjamin Wilson did not own slaves, his father Josiah Wilson owned seven or eight slaves in 1850,[6] and ten slaves in 1860.[7] This Benjamin Wilson attended the Northwestern Virginia Academy in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia). He then traveled to Staunton, Virginia to attend the law school which Judge Briscoe Baldwin had begun in 1831.

Wilson married Susan Marsh in 1848, and they had a son, Stonewall Jackson Wilson (1862–1887), who survived to adulthood, as did three daughters: Buena Wilson Brown (1849–1930), Mary Drusilla Feeny (1851–1876), and Virginia Lee Wozencraft (1865–1893).[8]


Admitted to the Virginia bar in 1848, Wilson began his legal practice in Clarksburg. He was elected as commonwealth attorney for Harrison County following adoption of a new Virginia state constitution in 1851, and served from 1852 to 1860.

Prelude and American Civil War

Voters elected Wilson along with Unionist John S. Carlile as their delegates to the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861.[9] Unlike Carlile, who voted against secession during both votes, Wilson abstained from the second vote, though he did sign the ordinance of secession.[10] Later, he and Judge Gideon D. Camden (who owned slaves in both censuses) moved southward into Virginia after Union forces captured much of Harrison County.

Postwar politician

Wilson was a member of West Virginia's State constitutional convention in 1871. After the adoption of West Virginia's second Constitution in 1872 (which re-enfranchised Confederates, among other changes) voters elected Wilson from West Virginia's 1st District.[11] Re-elected three times, Wilson served in the 44th United States Congress and the next three Congresses (March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1883). Wilson was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1872, the same year that he lost a campaign for election to the 43rd United States Congress. Two years later, Wilson won election as a Democrat to the Forty-fourth and was re-elected to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1883). During the Cleveland administration, Wilson was Assistant Attorney General of the United States (from 1885 to 1893).

Death and legacy

Congressman Wilson died on April 26, 1901 in Clarksburg and was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery there.[1]


  1. ^ a b United States Congress. "WILSON, Benjamin (id: W000569)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.. Retrieved September 10, 2007.
  2. ^ "Bioguide Search".
  3. ^ "Benjamin Wilson - West Virginia (WV) Cyclopedia". Archived from the original on 2006-03-26.
  4. ^ "Family History of Randolph County, West Virginia".
  5. ^ North American Family Histories by the Daughters of the American Revolution. lineage book Vol. 137, p. 212
  6. ^ two women aged 20 and 33, boys aged 10 and 12 and three or four children three years old or younger. See 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Slave Schedules for District 21, Harrison County, Virginia p. 2 of 5
  7. ^ two women aged 28 and 45, youths aged 14,(2), 15 and 19, 8 and 5 year old boys and girls aged five and one. See 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Slave Schedules for District 21, Harrison County, Virginia p. 4 of 8
  8. ^ no. 7613198
  9. ^ Cynthia Miller Leonard (ed), The General Assembly of Virginia 1619–1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members (Richmond, 1978) p. 475
  10. ^ How Virginia Convention Delegates Voted on Secession, April 4 and April 17, 1861, and Whether They Signed a Copy of the Ordinance of Secession
  11. ^ Lawrence Kestenbaum. "The Political Graveyard". Retrieved 2008-08-17.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 8 July 2022, at 03:24
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