Miscellaneous Manuscripts

Collection ID: MISC MSS
Location: MISC MSS

(Description ID: 595176)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

William Almon Wheeler 


Biographical Sketch
Scope and Content

In addition to the Wheeler correspondence in the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection, the Rutherford B. Hayes Papers contains the correspondence of Rutherford B. Hayes and William A. Wheeler.

Biographical Sketch
William A. Wheeler, Vice President of the United States, during the Hayes administration, was born in Malone, New York, June 30, 1819. His father, a lawyer, died when William was eight years old, leaving his mother to raise three children. William received a solid education in the Franklin County schools and attended the University of Vermont for two years (1838-1840). Suffering from eye problems and poverty, he returned to Malone without a degree. He taught school, was elected town clerk, and studied law in Malone, being admitted to the bar in 1845. He married Mary King in 1845. The following year, Wheeler became the Franklin County district attorney. In 1850 he was elected as a Whig to the New York assembly, but switched to the Republican Party in 1855 and was elected to the state senate in 1856.

Strongly opposed to slavery, Wheeler was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1860. He did not run for reelection in 1862. In 1867, he served as president of the New York state constitutional convention and in 1868 returned to Congress for four terms in the House of Representatives. Wheeler was rarely in the public spotlight but was chair of several important committees. He gained national attention as head of a commission examining the political chaos in Louisiana following the 1874 state elections. The "Wheeler Compromise" restored order to the quarreling factions in that state, but his report criticized policies in Louisiana for implementing black suffrage without providing education and signaled the growing unwillingness of the Grant administration to continue supporting the remaining Reconstruction governments in the South.

In 1876, with the support of men like General Philip Sheridan and as a gesture to the New York delegation following the nomination of Rutherford B. Hayes as President, the Republican Party chose Wheeler to run for Vice President. His reputation as a healer of political disputes and his highly ethical public service record made him an ideal candidate. Wheeler became a very close friend of the Hayes family and one of President Hayes' closest confidants but, perhaps because his wife, Mary, died shortly before the convention, he found the day-to-day duties of Vice President uninteresting. When the Hayes administration ended in 1881, Wheeler returned to Malone where health problems plagued him the rest of his life. He died there June 4, 1887.

Scope and Content
This collection contains several letters related to legal and political matters. However, most are letters of recommendation for individuals seeking military or government positions. Several letters offer praise of President Hayes and his leadership abilities. Two letters written after Wheeler's retirement offer reflections on his legislative career.

The remainder of the letters derive from the family of a first cousin, the Rev. Dr. Alfred Wheeler. Lydia, the author of many of these letters, was the wife of Rev. Wheeler. They were the parents of John, Edward, Mabel, Alfred D., and Mame. The letters refer primarily to family matters and activities, but occasionally mention world events such as the Spanish-American War.

Ac. 1331, 1998, 2023, 2115, 2158, 2238, 4007, 4014, 4142, 4167, 4393, 4857, 5130, 5413, 5527
30 items

Letters from William A. Wheeler to:

  • Young, John, dtd Malone, [NY], Aug 21, 1848. 1p. A.L.S. [Ac. 2158]
  • Benton, Nathaniel S., dtd n.p., Feb. 11, 1859. 1p. Petition signed by Wheeler and others [Ac. 4393]
  • Morgan, Edwin D., dtd [Washington, Aug 1, 1861] 1p. A statement, signed, on integal leaf of A.L.S. by Preston King to Edwin D. Morgan, Aug 1, 1861 [Ac. 4142]
  • Recommendation for Rev. Andrew Millar, dtd Washington, Jan.. 8, 1862. 1p. A.L.S. [Ac. 1998]
  • Fish, Hamilton, dtd Malone, [NY], Nov. 6, 1869. 2 pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 4007]
  • Dix, John A.,dtd House of Representatives, Washington, Dec. 11, 1872. 3pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 4167]
  • Gardner, Prof., dtd Malone, [NY], July 11, 1874. 2pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 4014]
  • Jenison, H., dtd House of Reps., Washington, Dec. 18, 1872. 1p. L.S. [Ac. 4857]
  • Spinner, F. E., dtd Departmental Telegraph Lines, House of Reps., January 5, 1875. 1p telegram [Ac. 2238]
  • Potter, Wm. A., dtd Departmental Telegraph Lines, House of Reps., May 14, 1876. 1p. telegram [Ac. 4196]
  • Powers, H. G., dtd Vice-President's Chambers, Washington, Mch 13, 1877. 1p. A.L.S. [Ac. 2115]
  • Canby (?), C. T., dtd Vice-President's Chambers, Washington, December 14, 1877. 1p. A.L.S. [Ac. 5130]
  • Alvord, Thos. G., dtd Vice-President's Chambers, Washington, February 2, 1878. 1p. A.L.S. [Ac. 5413]
  • Townsend, M. I., dtd Malone, [NY], Sept. 15, 1879. 1p. A.L.S. [Ac. 1331]
  • Wilson, F. P., dtd Vice-President's Chambers, Washington, Dec. 3, 1880. 1p. A.L.S. [Ac. 2023]
  • Wheeler, Rev. Dr. Alfred, dtd Richfield Springs, [NY], July 15, 1885. 2pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]
  • Wheeler, Ed[ward] J[ewitt], dtd Richfield Springs, [NY], July 16, 1885. 3pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]

Letter form Alfred D. Wheeler to:

  • "Dear Mame", dtd Amsworth (?), July 27, 1892. 4pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]

Letter for Edward J. Wheeler to:

  • "Dear Folks", dtd New York, [NY], Dec. 24, 1892. 4pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]

Letters from Lydia P. Wheeler to:

  • "My Dear John", dtd Erie, [PA], Nov. 9, 1892. 4pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]
  • "My Dear John", dtd Erie, [PA], Feb. 1, 1895. 4pp. incomplete. [Ac. 5527]
  • "My Dear John", dtd Erie, [PA], Feb. 24, 1895. 4pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]
  • "My Dear John", dtd Erie, [PA], Apr. 20, 1897. 8pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]
  • "Dear Puss", dtd Erie, [PA], Apr. 28, 1897. 3 pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]
  • "My Dear Puss", dtd Erie, [PA], May 4, 1897. 6pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]
  • "My Dear Mrs. Laffer", dtd Erie, [PA], May 30, 1898. 5pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]
  • "My Dear Mame", dtd Erie, [PA], June 30, 1898. 8pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]
  • "My Dear Girl and people generally", dtd Erie, [PA], July 2, 1898. 12pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]
  • "My Dear Blessed People", dtd Erie, [PA], July 9, 1898. 10pp. A.L.S. [Ac. 5527]

Unidentified author to:

  • "My Dearest Dear", n.d. 4pp. incomplete [Ac. 5527]