|Sequence in Graves I Have Visited
|September 14, 2009
|17th Vice President visited
The career of the Natick Cobbler, Henry Wilson, began in a small New England shoe shop. It ended in the U.S. Capitol as vice president. The fourth VP to die in office, Wilson lay in state in the Capitol rotunda before he was brought to rest in his adoptive state of Massachusetts. The detailed memorial at left belongs to Wilson’s son of the same name, an army lieutenant who died at age 20 of a ruptured appendix. The VP rests beneath the more diminutive stone in the center, which is also decorated with an American flag.
In the 18 years preceding his vice presidential inauguration, Wilson served as a U.S. senator alongside fellow Bay Stater Charles Sumner. Both men were anti-slavery Radical Republicans, and Sumner was the last person to lie in state at the Capitol before Wilson. They died in consecutive years: 1874 and 1875. Although ill health hampered Wilson during his vice presidency even before his fatal stroke, he was able to attend his former colleague’s services. Sumner is interred 18 miles away from Wilson in Cambridge’s acclaimed Mount Auburn Cemetery.
This plaque honoring Wilson’s feats was added to his family’s burial plot in 2011, two years after my initial visit.
Born: February 16, 1812 in Farmington, New Hampshire
Spouse: Harriet Malvina Howe Wilson (m. 1840-1870)
Highest Military Rank: Brigadier General — Massachusetts Militia; Colonel — U.S. Army
Primary Political Affiliation: Republican Party
Vice Presidential Term: 1873-1875 under Ulysses S. Grant
Died: November 22, 1875 in Washington, D.C.
Cause of Death: Stroke
Interment: Dell Park Cemetery, Natick, Massachusetts
"I have sought no controversy, and I seek none, but I shall go where duty requires, uninfluenced by threats of any kind."
- Henry Wilson spring 1856 to members of the press regarding threats from Representative Preston Brooks, who recently caned Senator Charles Sumner
Sources Consulted and Further Reading