William Almon Wheeler

Political Star of the North Country

By Herbert C. Hallas

Subjects: American History, New York/regional, Presidency, The, Politics, Biography
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438448121, 365 pages, December 2013

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. Tragedy in Malone
2. The Making of a “Cultivated” Man
3. Love and the New District Attorney
4. “Here Lies an Honest Man”
5. “Old Hunkerism” Is Dead
6. A “Mere Act of Justice”
7. “Grinding” It Out in Albany
8. A Pen “Dipped in Gall”
9. An Early-Morning Knock on the Door
10. Suddenly, a “Junior Partner”
11. A Sporting Gentleman Gets the Itch
12. “True to Our Trust, True to Ourselves, and True to Truth”
13. “Ho! For California”
14. Spreading “Law, Order, Population, Industry and Wealth”
15. “Common Justice” for the South
16. Returning the Salary Grab
17. No “Unproductive and Useless Park”
18. An “Earnest Champion of the Right”
19. The “New York Lincoln”
20. “God’s Hand Is in This Work”
21. “Hayes the True and Wheeler, Too!”
22. “As Righteous as an Edict of God”
23. “A Wild and Joyous Time”
24.   The Frozen Snake and the “Greatest of Humbugs”
25. “The Machine Always Slaughters Its New Converts”
26. Delivering a “Paroxysm” of Partisan Fury
27. U. S. Senate Election Round One: The Double-Cross
28. U. S. Senate Election Round Two: Caught in a Crossfire
29. “Distressing Malady of My Bladder”
30. Negotiating “Simple Justice”
Epilogue: From “Sterling Gold” to Neurotic Timidity

An American success story about the life of William Almon Wheeler, a poor boy from northern New York who became the nineteenth vice president of the United States.


William Almon Wheeler's life is an American success story about how a poor boy living near the Canadian border in Malone, New York, achieved fame and fortune. Often referred to as "the New York Lincoln," Wheeler was a lawyer, banker, railroad president, state legislator, five-term congressman, and the nineteenth vice president of the United States under Rutherford B. Hayes.

Using a variety of sources, including newspapers, letters, government reports, county histories, and biographies of Wheeler's contemporaries, Herbert C. Hallas examines Wheeler's role in shaping state and national public policy. Highlights include construction of the North Country and transcontinental railroads, the creation of the Adirondack and Niagara Falls state parks, the extension of voting rights in New York, the termination of racial civil war in Louisiana, and the curtailment of unnecessary government spending. The book traces Wheeler's path as he wound his way through the minefields of county, state, and national politics and helped found the Republican Party, without compromising his integrity or religious principles. Hallas rescues Wheeler's story from the dustbin of history. Along the way he debunks long-held myths about Wheeler and restores his place as an influential nineteenth-century political force.

Herbert C. Hallas is a retired high school teacher and lawyer. He lives on Long Island.


"Herbert C. Hallas's biography of Wheeler is a robust, scholarly, thorough account … With this book, Hallas has done much to restore Wheeler to his proper standing. He has performed prodigious labors of original research and tells the story of a distinguished New Yorker with whom we should all be better acquainted. " — Adirondack Explorer

"Herb Hallas' new book debunks many of the myths about Wheeler and sheds light on the creation of the Adirondack and Niagara Falls parks. " — North Country Public Radio

"Hallas weaves Wheeler's life with national political events thereby illustrating the importance of the North Country and its people to the country as a whole. He has effectively re-introduced a powerful political figure who has been overshadowed by other larger-than-life figures of the nineteenth century. " — Thomas Price, Curator, James K. Polk Ancestral Home