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Henry Alexander Wise

Wise, Henry Alexander, 1806–76, American political leader and Confederate general in the Civil War, b. Accomac, Va. A lawyer, he was successively a Jackson Democrat, a Whig, and a Tyler Democrat in Congress (1833–44). He was minister to Brazil from 1844 to 1847. An outspoken defender of slavery, Wise defeated (1855) the Know-Nothing candidate for governor of Virginia by accusing that party of abolitionism, thereby breaking the Know-Nothing movement in the South. One of his last official acts as governor (1856–60) was to sign the death warrant of John Brown. Although he opposed secession, when war broke out he became a Confederate brigadier general, distinguishing himself in the defense of Petersburg against General Grant's first assault (1864) and in the retreat to Appomattox.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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