Wright, Silas

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Silas Wright, 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).