Silas Wright

Silas Wright

Wright, Silas, 1795-1847, American political leader, b. Amherst, Mass. He was admitted (1819) to the bar and began practicing law at Canton, N.Y. Becoming involved in state politics, in the 1820s he opposed the faction headed by De Witt Clinton and became one of the leaders of the Albany Regency. Having served (1824-27) in the state senate, he became (1827) a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and was (1829-33) comptroller of New York state. In the U.S. Senate (1833-44), Wright consistently supported President Andrew Jackson, voted for the annexation of Texas, upheld the Independent Treasury System, and opposed slavery. In 1844 the Democratic convention chose him as its vice presidential candidate, but Wright refused the nomination, ran for governor of New York instead, and defeated Millard Fillmore in a close contest. Wright vetoed a canal improvement bill, opposed calling the constitutional convention of 1846, and used the militia in the antirent riots.

See biography by J. A. Garraty (1949, repr. 1970).

Silas Wright, Jr. (May 24, 1795August 27, 1847) was an American Democratic politician. Wright was born in Amherst, Massachusetts and moved with his father to Weybridge, Vermont in 1796. He graduated from Middlebury College in 1815 and moved to Sandy Hill, New York, the next year, where he studied law, being admitted to the bar in 1819. Wright commenced practice in Canton, New York. He served as surrogate of St. Lawrence County 1821-1824 and then as a member of the New York State senate from 1824 to 1827. Wright was appointed brigadier general of the state militia in 1827.

In 1826, he was elected to the Twentieth Congress and served from March 4, 1827, to February 16, 1829, when he resigned. He successfully contested the election of George Fisher to the Twenty-first Congress, but declined to qualify. Wright served as Comptroller of the State of New York from 1829 to 1833, in which post he became a prominent follower of Martin Van Buren and a member of the Albany Regency that ran the state for the Democratic Party in this period. Wright was elected to the United States Senate in 1833 as a Democrat to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William L. Marcy. He was reelected in 1837 and served from January 4, 1833, to November 26, 1844. In the Senate, he served as Chairman of the Finance Committee from 1836 to 1841.

Wright was offered the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 1844, as a sop to followers of Van Buren, who had been disappointed in his hopes for renomination, but declined instead running for the position of Governor of New York. He served as Governor from 1845 to 1846, and was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection, being defeated by the Whig candidate John Young.

Wright died soon after, aged 52, in Canton, on August 27, 1847 and is interred in Old Canton Cemetery.


  • Lives by Gilet, (Albany, 1874); Hammond, (Syracuse, 1848); Jenkins, (Auburn, 1847)

See also

List of Governors of New York

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