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William W. Wick

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Watson Wick
2nd Secretary of State of Indiana
In office
January 14, 1825 – January 14, 1829
GovernorJames B. Ray
Preceded byRobert A. New
Succeeded byJames Morrison
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1839 – March 4, 1841
Preceded byWilliam Herod
Succeeded byDavid Wallace
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
Preceded byWilliam J. Brown
Succeeded byWilliam J. Brown
Personal details
Born(1796-02-23)February 23, 1796
Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, United States
DiedMay 19, 1868(1868-05-19) (aged 72)
Franklin, Indiana, United States
Resting placeGreenlawn Cemetery, Franklin, Indiana, United States
Political partyDemocratic
RelationsWick family
MotherElizabeth née McFarland
FatherWilliam Wick

William Watson Wick (February 23, 1796 – May 19, 1868) was a U.S. Representative from Indiana and Secretary of State of Indiana.

William was the son of the Presbyterian Minister Rev. William Wick, Sr. and his wife Elizabeth née McFarland, the daughter of Colonel Daniel McFarland, an officer in the Continental Army. The younger William (known as "W") was born in Canonsburg, Washington County, Pennsylvania, where his father was then a student at what is now Washington & Jefferson College. William Sr. was the son of Lemuel Wick and Deborah Lupton, and a lineal descendant of the Pilgrim Father John Wickes.[1]

Early life

In 1800 Rev. Wick moved his family to the Western Reserve for the purpose of missionary work in the region, and became the first minister to settle in the Western Reserve.[2]

William completed preparatory studies, and after his father's death in 1815, moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he taught school and studied medicine. Some time later, he decided on a law career, and undertook study in a law office, according to the custom of the time, and was admitted to the bar at Franklin, Indiana, in 1819.

Political career

He served as Clerk of the Indiana House of Representatives in 1820 and for the Indiana State Senate in 1821. Appointed to a state judgeship, he served as President Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit from 1822–1825, 1834–1837 and 1850–1853, and presided over the trial resulting from the Fall Creek Massacre, which resulted in the first recorded case of a white man being sentenced to death for crimes against Indians.[3] In between judicial assignments he served as Indiana's Secretary of State (1825–1829) and as the Prosecuting Attorney for the same circuit from 1829–1831.


In 1838, Wick was elected to the Twenty-sixth Congress as a Democrat, and began his first term from March 4, 1839. Having failed in his bid for reelection, he resumed his private law practice in Indianapolis.

Wilmot Proviso

In 1844, Wick was re-elected to Congress. In 1846, during the debates on the Wilmot Proviso, he proposed an amendment to extend the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific coast. Wick feared that free blacks would flood the urban northeast. The proposal was defeated 89–54. The Wilmot Proviso passed the House in August and was defeated in the Senate.

Wick was a leading opponent of racial mixing and integration, and famous for his opposition to the annexation of Mexican territory: "I do not want any mixed races in our Union, nor men of any color except white, unless they be slaves. Certainly not as voters or legislators."[4] He also served on the Board of Directors of the American Colonization Society, which helped to establish Liberia as a homeland for free blacks.

While a member of Congress, fifty-two-year-old Wick wrote about himself to a friend, describing himself as "fair, a little fat, having increased since 1833 from 146 to 214 pounds— six feet and one inch high, good complexion, portly." Wick, speaking of himself said that "Wick has committed much folly in his time—the principal of which has been holding offices, writing rhymes, playing cards for money, and paying other people's debts—all which he abandoned about the time he became a Democrat." By now his hair had turned gray, and he was suffering from frequent fevers and what he described as "bilious attacks and dyspepsia."

Speaking of himself, Wick told his friend that "He has acquired a good deal of miscellaneous knowledge, loves fun, looks serious, rises early, works much, and has a decided penchant for light diet, humor, reading, business, the drama, music, a fine horse, his gun, and the woods. W[ick] owes nothing, and were he to die today his estate would inventory eight or nine hundred dollars . . . . He 'takes no thought for tomorrow.' but relies upon the same good Providence to which he is debtor for all. W. would advise young men to fear and trust God, to cheat rogues, and deceive intriguers by being perfectly honest . . . to touch the glass lightly, to eschew security and debt, tobacco, betting, hypocrisy and federalism, to rather believe, or fall in with new philosophical and moral humbugs, and to love woman too well to injure her. They will thus be happy now, and will secure serenity at fifty-two years of age and thence onward."[5]

He remained in Congress until the expiration of the Thirtieth Congress in March 1849, having chosen not to stand for reelection.

Later life

In 1853, President Franklin Pierce appointed him Postmaster of Indianapolis, Indiana in which capacity he served until 1857. Later he served as Adjutant General in the State Militia.

He moved to Franklin, Indiana, in 1857, where he continued his law practice, and sat as a judge of the Circuit Court for a fourth time for two months in the Autumn of 1859.

He died in Franklin, Indiana on May 19, 1868. He was interred in Greenlawn Cemetery.


  1. ^
  2. ^ History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, pp. 379 H.Z. Williams & Bros. 1882
  3. ^ Funk, p. 38
  4. ^
  5. ^ Woollen, William Wesley, Biographical and Historical Sketches of Early Indiana pp. 254


  • Funk, Arville L. (1983) [1969]. A Sketchbook of Indiana History (Revised ed.). Rochester, Indiana: Christian Book Press.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert A. New
Secretary of State of Indiana
Succeeded by
James Morrison
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Herod
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
David Wallace
Preceded by
William J. Brown
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
William J. Brown
This page was last edited on 7 February 2021, at 01:49
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