Henry Alexander Wise

Henry Alexander Wise c1857

Henry Alexander Wise (December 3, 1806 – September 12, 1876) was an American attorney, diplomat, politician and slave owner from Virginia. As the 33rd governor of Virginia, Wise served as a significant figure on the path to the American Civil War, becoming heavily involved in the 1859 trial of abolitionist John Brown. After leaving office in 1860, Wise also led the move toward Virginia's secession from the Union in reaction to the election of Abraham Lincoln and the Battle of Fort Sumter.

In addition to serving as Governor, Wise represented Virginia in the United States House of Representatives from 1833 to 1844 and was the United States Minister to Brazil during the presidencies of John Tyler and James K. Polk. During the American Civil War, he was a general in the Confederate States Army. In politics, Wise was consecutively a Jacksonian Democrat, a Whig supporter of the National Bank, a dissident Whig supportive of President Tyler, a Democratic secessionist, and a Republican supporter of President Ulysses S. Grant. His sons Richard Alsop Wise and John Sergeant Wise both also served in the Confederate Army and the post-war United States House as Republicans. After the Civil War ended, Wise accepted that slavery had been abolished and advocated a peaceful national reunification.